11 text processing and cognitive technologies




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COGNITIVE METAPHORS AS AN IMAGE OF KNOWLEDGE IN BULGARIAN MEDIA DISCOURSE 2


Dimitar Popov 3


ABSTRACT

The cognitive process of conceptualization of the new-acquired knowledge is based on the mechanisms of mastering the changing world around and some of the basic forms of that conceptualization, as a result of the language production, are cognitive metaphors. Cognitive metaphors make explicit the productive way of thinking (mental model) of the mediator of the information regarding the image of the world (model of the world). The expressive forms of modeling represent various forms of cognition of the world. Thoughts, perceptions, emotions, the processes of cognition, motor activity and language can be organized by means of the same structures, called Gestalt. Iconicity represents Gestalt (frame) the way it is coded by the language. The presence of equal or similar metaphorical concepts in mass media environment of different cultures testifies to the universality of cognitive process, but the concrete ontological meaning of metaphor is conventionalized in a way in a certain culture. Analogies, metaphors and mental images are the strings which connect consciousness with the world even when there is no direct contact between them, and they provide the unity of human experience. Cognitive metaphors usually refer to complex mental spaces (to the areas of sense and social experience). In the processes of cognition these complex generally unobserved mental spaces refer by means of metaphors to simpler or precisely observed mental spaces. Cognitive metaphors in media discourse are used as indicators of mythos. These manipulative means irradiate the public opinion with the lasers of power and in that way the new images are conceptualized.


KEYWORDS

Cognitive metaphors, conceptualisation of knowledge, media discourse


INTRODUCTION

In our dynamic every day life we turn witnesses to an evolutional element of forming a set of new notions. This cognitive process of conceptualization of the new-acquired knowledge is grounded on the mechanisms of mastering the changing world around and one of the basic forms of that conceptualization, as a result of the language production, are cognitive metaphors.

Metaphors in colloquial speech usually suggest themselves by the men of the day – the political and religious leaders, financial profiteers, then they are taken up and circulated by publicity and means of mass media, which proclaim them the truth of the day of a given culture. Thus by means of the timely and efficient propaganda of the “fourth estate” the new myth art is created. According to Giambatista Vico, the most efficient technique in the area of language myth art is the use of metaphors but closer scrutiny reveals that “every metaphor turns to be a short myth” (Жоль (1984)). Each epoch creates its own myths and the only difference is the metaphors it uses.


Cognitive metaphors as concept of linguistics

Cognitive metaphors are notions of the holistic cognitive linguistics. These linguistic means are discussed as unalterable and inseparable constituents of every day language, where they are produced unconsciously. In this respect the matter of interest is not only on their aesthetical or rhetorical effect (which concerns predominantly the poetical metaphors), but also their part as being a mirror of the elementary cognitive processes and an instrument of human mind.

In 1980 G. Lakoff and M. Johnson in their work “Metaphors we live by” demonstrate for the first time, that the meaning of metaphor is not limited within the boundaries of the poetical and rhetorically effective usage of language, but metaphors also have to be discussed as relatively unusual forms, constantly present in every day speech (Lakoff, Johnson (1980)). The conceptual system of the individual, the terms with which one thinks and functions, is fundamentally metaphorical in its core. Phrases like голи фрази (‘mere phrases’), празни приказки / празни думи (‘idle words’), пълни глупости (‘sheer nonsense’), публицистични напъни (‘journalistic strains’), словоблудства (‘word lechery’) and others, are not accidental and, of course, they cannot be interpreted literally.

G. Lakoff and M. Johnson focus on an unusual and unconscious on the part of the speaker use of metaphors in every day life, the spontaneous expression that runs through the language. It comes as a result of the individual experience in the process of mastering the world by conceptualizing the knowledge (mental model) of the world in language. Thus in the examples mentioned above, the overall idea of the abstract matter of language has been conceptualized by means of definite, elementary notions of a container, in which a certain meaning is implied by the speaker.

Experience is a key notion in Lakoff and Johnson’s work. So it will be of great interest to follow the way in which the abstract and hard to realize states of things are being structured by means of physical and cultural notions close from experience. According to G. Lakoff and M. Johnson the course of the metaphorical transfer from the physical to the abstract is always present, i.e. using of direct physical and cultural notions as a source of metaphorical structuring of abstract entities. As a result of the conviction that the creation of the concept reflects the way in which the individual masters his/her world, G. Lakoff and M. Johnson develop the thesis for experience.

The notion of the experience can be illustrated by the use of cognitive metaphors in the phrase Едни жънат успехи, други сеят раздори (‘Ones achieve success, others sow discord’), where basic concepts of the individual, related to his/her experience, are transferred upon abstract areas of the surrounding world, which are difficult to grasp, and thus they are stored until the moment of their full realization. And metaphorical concepts arise, which become explicit in spontaneous speech through metaphorical utterances.

The conceptual schemes (frames) people work with, have a concrete nature of their own and they often turn into generalizations focused on some perceptional characteristics of the respective subject of speech, which lead to associations by analogy with other perceptional standards that we already know from experience. Generalizations themselves are means of acquiring mythological functions by means of language resources in concrete uses. Such maxim generalization was spontaneously produced by Prof. Nikola Georgiev in the TV programme on Nova Televizija “Face to face”, where he, talking about the contemporary forms of manipulating society concerning the teaching of the new mythological items by the authorities, uses the following fresh metaphorical pun, based on analogy: Клин - клин избива, мит - мит измита. (‘One nail drives out another, one myth sweeps out another’). The maxim generalizations in the newspapers’ headlines are usually used as means of categorizing of information and its circulation is performed in the form of ready-to-use qualifications, which are consumed thoroughly and immediately by the user of that information as it is illustrated in the utterance: Медиите - комплексът за малоценност на властта? (‘Mass media – the complex of inferiority of the power?’). The shaping of the headline with the stylistic device of the rhetorical question emphatically strengthens the feeling of self evidence of the circulated information, which does not look for an answer at all. Power is assumed by means of language (Блакар (1987)).

Cognitive development of the individual goes as a complex process of changing vicissitudes as a result of his/her contact with the world around. The changes of one’s cognitive system (based on experience) function unconsciously; they function on the principle of equilibrium (the principle of balance), which aims to provide the optimal balance of the system by releasing it from its contradictions. The equilibrium tends to create the tendency of self regulation and self-preservation of the information. The processes of self organization influence the creativity of the language production of the speaker in the media environment as this becomes obvious especially when the speaker uses cognitive metaphors.

What we mean by cognitive metaphors?

Cognitive (conceptual) metaphors satisfy one’s ability to catch and create similarity among rather different individuals and classes of objects (Арутюнова (1990)). They give the possibility a concrete object of the reality to be seen through another object and in that respect they present one of the possible ways for representing the knowledge of the linguistic form. Cognitive metaphors are such contributive metaphors which are based on certain analogy. G. Lakoff and M. Johnson define them as basic level metaphors, or key metaphors as they function as a key to cognition. Cognitive (attributive) metaphors are an instrument of cognition. They function as indicators of the qualities of the material objects and abstract categories. Thus an attribute or an act of an entity may be transferred on another object, phenomenon or another abstract entity as it is in the following uses: Данъчен комар (вм. данъчни санкции) започна да жили тези, които не могат да докажат произхода на парите си ((‘A tax mosquito (instead of ‘tax pressures/sanctions’) biting those, who cannot demonstrate the origin of their money’)); Синя метла (вм. СДС) вилнее в политическото пространство ((‘Blue broom (UDFUnited Democratic Forces) is stalking up and down in the political environment’)); сив бизнес, сенчеста(сива) икономика (вм. нелегален бизнес и скрита икономика) ((‘Grey business, shady (grey) economy (instead of ‘illegal business’ and ‘secret economy’)); тромави закони (вм. закони със забавена процедура) ((‘sluggish laws’ (instead of deterring laws’)) or наболели въпроси на ежедневието (вм. актуални проблеми) ((‘heavy questions of every day life (instead of live problems’)).


COGNITIVE METAPHORS AS AN IMAGE OF KNOWLEDGE

Cognitive metaphors are a demonstration testifying the productive mental potentials of the producer of the speech and one’s creativity and aphoristic talent as well. The meaning of metaphor in its core is determined by the picture of the world (the model of the world) of the bearer of the language. We use the term mental model in cognitive science. Cognitive metaphors make explicit the productive way of thinking (mental model) of the mediator of the information regarding the image of the world (model of the world). The expressive forms of modeling represent the various forms of cognition of the world. Metaphors as a kind of figurative models are iconical signs (Henle (1958)).

Iconicity means the degree of similarity between the icon and its referent.

T. Lewandowsky defines metaphor as a transference of meaning based on the analogy of physical appearance (Gestalt – in English: “image”). By using metaphors the meaning of a word is expended (Lewandowsky (1973-1975)). Thoughts, perceptions, emotions, the processes of cognition, motor activity and language can be organized by means of one and the same structures, called Gestalt (Lakoff (1981)). The term Gestalt, a central term in psychology and cognitive linguistics is used in many other works for defining conceptions like frames (Fillmore (1982)). According to M. Minsky (the author of frame theory) the metaphor furthers the creating of unpredictable interframe relations that have great heuristic force (Арутюнова (1990)). Iconicity represents Gestalt (frame) the way it is coded by the language. The figurativity of the metaphor can be presented by the distinction, formulated by L. Wittgenstein, between: ‘I can see something and ‘I can see something as. The phrase I can see something has a corresponding Gestalt (image), which consists of two parts – half of thought and half of experience. The verbal iconical sign is a combination of meaning and emotion. Consequently, iconicity is a sense image (Gestalt, frame) implied in language. Cognitive metaphors are extremely iconical because there one can identify the relation between the vehicle of expression – the surface structure of the image – and meaning (tenor – the idea, the character of image) - the deep structure of that image (Richards (1965)). The iconicity of meaning of cognitive metaphors becomes explicit in examples testifying family proximities, family analogies (in German: Familenähnlichkeiten – a term suggested by L. Wittgenstein). A typical example of such family proximity is the phrase launched in mass media Страните от Източна Европа се стремят да дадат своя принос в изграждането на Общия Европейски дом (‘The Eastern European Countries are trying to give their contribution in creating the Common European Home’), where общият дом (‘the common home’) is a language image (metaphor-indicator of mythology of the notion of United Europe). It is obvious from the example, that the metaphor is a natural linguistic image, which is based on the relation of analogy between terms connected with the personal sphere of the individual (for ex. ‘home’), and terms connected with the public-political sphere, that is a transference of signatum on the basis of comparison of equal and similar characteristics of the meaning. The following examples of family proximities in Bulgarian media discourse show the same results: Успяхме да убедим партньорите от НАТО, че България заслужава да е част от семейството (‘We managed to convince our NATO partners that Bulgaria deserves to be part of the family’); Всички партии се писаха бащи на поканата ни за НАТО (‘All political parties claim to be fathers of our invitation to enter NATO’).

The presence of equal or similar metaphorical concepts in mass media environment of different cultures testifies the universality of cognitive process, but the concrete ontological meaning of metaphor is conventionalized in a way in a certain culture.

Cognitive metaphors provide the possibility to be discussed in terms of localization, categorization and quantification of abstract and concrete entities of patterns of familiar (from experience), physical objects and substances. As it is in media discourse in the countries where German is the official language, the myth of Bulgaria (in 1994) was circulated on Austrian TV channel ORF2 in the programme “Außenpolitik” (‘foreign policy’) by the use of the cognitive metaphor at the top of the material: България - Чикаго на Балканите (‘Bulgaria – Chicago of the Balkans’) - picture material presented by documental frames verifying the myth of extreme criminality in the streets of Sofia. In German press in 2000 the image of the Bulgarian was focused by the metaphorical headline: Българите - прусаците на Балкана (‘Bulgarians – the Prussians of the Balkans’). The myth of the modern hero of the day in Bulgarian press was circulated in “24 hours” in the headline Живите паметници Бойко Борисов, Иван Костов и Ицо Стоичков с най-много фенове за монументално извайване (‘Live monuments Boiko Borisov, Ivan Kostov and Itso Stoichkov with the greatest number of fans for monument erection’).

Such analogies are one of the most powerful instruments of thinking and they give us the opportunity to see an object or an idea “in the light of” another object or idea, which presume the knowledge and experience, acquired from a certain area, to be used in solving problems in another area. That’s exactly the way in which the spread of knowledge from a certain scientific paradigm into another is carried out (Минский (1988)).

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