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new book – ‘Metaphor’ by Denis Donoghue

April 7, 2014

Metaphor

Metaphor by Denis Donoghue (Harvard University Press, 2014)

(amazon.co.uk)

Book description from the publisher:

Denis Donoghue turns his attention to the practice of metaphor and to its lesser cousins, simile, metonym, and synecdoche. Metaphor (“a carrying or bearing across”) supposes that an ordinary word could have been used in a statement but hasn’t been. Instead, something else, something unexpected, appears. The point of a metaphor is to enrich the reader’s experience by bringing different associations to mind. The force of a good metaphor is to give something a different life, a new life. The essential character of metaphor, Donoghue says, is prophetic. Metaphors intend to change the world by changing our sense of it.

At the center of Donoghue’s study is the idea that metaphor permits the greatest freedom in the use of language because it exempts language from the local duties of reference and denotation. Metaphors conspire with the mind in its enjoyment of freedom. Metaphor celebrates imaginative life par excellence, from Donoghue’s musings on Aquinas’ Latin hymns, interspersed with autobiographical reflection, to his agile and perceptive readings of Wallace Stevens.

When Donoghue surveys the history of metaphor and resistance to it, going back to Aristotle and forward to George Lakoff, he is a sly, cogent, and persuasive companion. He also addresses the question of whether or not metaphors can ever truly die. Reflected on every page of Metaphor are the accumulated wisdom of decades of reading and a sheer love of language and life.

Comments (0) - language,new books

new book – ‘Words as Social Tools: An Embodied View on Abstract Concepts’ by Anna M. Borghi and Ferdinand Binkofski

March 31, 2014

Words as Social Tools

Words as Social Tools: An Embodied View on Abstract Concepts by Anna M. Borghi and Ferdinand Binkofski (Springer, 2014)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

How are abstract concepts and words represented in the brain? That is the central question addressed by the authors of “Words as Social Tools: An Embodied View on Abstract Concepts”. First, they focus on the difficulties in defining what abstract concepts and words are, and what they mean in psycholinguistic research. Then the authors go on to describe and critically discuss the main theories on this topic with a special emphasis on the different embodied and grounded theories proposed in cognitive psychology within the last ten years, highlighting the advantages and limitations of each of these theories. The core of this Brief consists of the presentation of a new theory developed by the authors, the WAT (Words As social Tools) view, according to which both sensorimotor (such as perception, action, emotional experiences) and linguistic experiences are at the basis of abstract concepts and of abstract word representation, processing and use. This theory assigns a major role to acquisition: one of the assumptions the authors make is that the different ways in which concrete and abstract words are acquired constrain their brain representation and their use. This view will be compared with the main existing theories on abstractness, from the theory of conceptual metaphors to the theories on multiple representation. Finally, the volume illustrates recent evidence from different areas (developmental, behavioral, cross-cultural, neuropsychological and neural) which converge with and support the authors’ theory, leading to the conclusion that in order to account for representation and processing of abstract concepts and words, an extension of embodied and grounded theories is necessary.

Comments (0) - cognitive science,language,new books

Kindle Daily Deal for March 3 – $1.99 for ‘The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us’ by James Pennebaker

March 3, 2014

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early kindle release – ‘The Bilingual Mind: And What It Tells Us About Language and Thought’ by Aneta Pavlenko

January 20, 2014

The Bilingual Mind

The Bilingual Mind: And What It Tells Us About Language and Thought by Aneta Pavlenko (Cambridge University Press, 2014)

(paperback – 2/28/14), (UK kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk – paperback ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

If languages influence the way we think, do bilinguals think differently in their respective languages? And if languages do not affect thought, why do bilinguals often perceive such influence? For many years these questions remained unanswered because the research on language and thought had focused solely on the monolingual mind. Bilinguals were either excluded from this research as ‘unusual’ or ‘messy’ subjects, or treated as representative speakers of their first languages. Only recently did bi- and multilinguals become research participants in their own right. Pavlenko considers the socio-political circumstances that led to the monolingual status quo and shows how the invisibility of bilingual participants compromised the validity and reliability of findings in the study of language and cognition. She then shifts attention to the bilingual turn in the field and examines its contributions to the understanding of the human mind.

Google Books preview:

See also: Author’s webpages

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new book – ‘More than Nature Needs: Language, Mind, and Evolution’ by Derek Bickerton

December 9, 2013

More Than Nature Needs

More than Nature Needs: Language, Mind, and Evolution by Derek Bickerton (Harvard University Press, 2013)

(amazon.co.uk)

Book description from the publisher:

The human mind is an unlikely evolutionary adaptation. How did humans acquire cognitive capacities far more powerful than anything a hunting-and-gathering primate needed to survive? Alfred Russel Wallace, co-founder with Darwin of evolutionary theory, saw humans as “divine exceptions” to natural selection. Darwin thought use of language might have shaped our sophisticated brains, but his hypothesis remained an intriguing guess–until now. Combining state-of-the-art research with forty years of writing and thinking about language evolution, Derek Bickerton convincingly resolves a crucial problem that both biology and the cognitive sciences have hitherto ignored or evaded.

What evolved first was neither language nor intelligence–merely normal animal communication plus displacement. That was enough to break restrictions on both thought and communication that bound all other animals. The brain self-organized to store and automatically process its new input, words. But words, which are inextricably linked to the concepts they represent, had to be accessible to consciousness. The inevitable consequence was a cognitive engine able to voluntarily merge both thoughts and words into meaningful combinations. Only in a third phase could language emerge, as humans began to tinker with a medium that, when used for communication, was adequate for speakers but suboptimal for hearers.

Starting from humankind’s remotest past, More than Nature Needs transcends nativist thesis and empiricist antithesis by presenting a revolutionary synthesis–one that instead of merely repeating “nature and nurture” clichés shows specifically and in a principled manner how and why the synthesis came about.

Google Books preview:

See also: Author at Academia.edu – “How ‘More Than Nature Needs’ Changes the Linguistic and Cognitive Landscape: A Study Guide”

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