Thursday, May 26, 2011

On 'Spying On Linguistics'

The Daily Dish by Andrew Sullivan recently had this. You might surprised, this concept is major research within linguistics as wells. Some of the more interesting 'policy-related' ones are:
"Love is war/violence.", oft illustrated by "She deflected his advances.", which has enormous implications for how people think about and talk about both rape and domestic violence. After all, if we live in a culture where we speak of love as a man 'occupying' a woman, it suddenly makes more sense that rape and domestic violence would be such a major problem. This also says something about the seemingly massive tolerance for Violence that is unique to the United States.
"Immigration is flood.", which can be demonstrated in "There seems to be an endless tide of Mexicans coming into the United States." Obviously, using the terminology of a natural disaster has massive effects on how people view immigration. There's another "Immigration is invasion." in lines such as "A horde of illegal immigrants descended on the city." which continues the serious negative connection in people's minds. In my own linguistics courses, we came to the conclusion that these 'cognitive metaphors' were a major part of the massive opposition to any immigration whatsoever.
Other interesting aspects of cognitive metaphors are their effects on literature and advertising. One way to make a major point stick in your readers mind is thinking of a new cognitive metaphor and deploying it throughout a work. In advertising, using the right cognitive metaphor can get your customers into just the right frame of mind to make the sale.
I should point out that the massive effects that these metaphors may have on daily life are part of the basis behind being 'politically correct'. It may seem annoying and pointless, but eradicating cognitive metaphors like "African Americans are Animals" seems like a needed step before equality can be achieved.

If you'd like to read more about the concept, there's a wiki article here (under an odd name) and you can also ask linguists about it here.

No comments:

Post a Comment