Categorization in Discourse and Grammar

by Małgorzata Fabiszak (Volume editor) Karolina Krawczak (Volume editor) Katarzyna Rokoszewska (Volume editor)
©2016 Edited Collection 336 Pages
Series: Lodz Studies in Language, Volume 40


This collection of papers addresses new trends in Cognitive Linguistics. Three parts of the book focus on Conceptual Metaphor Theory and Integration Network Analysis. Both the theoretical contributions and the empirical case studies stress the importance of contextual factors in the meaning making processes. They employ qualitative methods to analyze the use of metaphor in political discourse and in the conceptualization of emotions. The data sets include multimodal data, sign languages and co-speech gestures. The fourth part of the book contains two corpus-based studies. The fifth part concentrates on the grammatical categories of passive voice and aspect. One contribution discusses the problem of categorization in phonology.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Categorization in Discourse and Grammar
  • Part 1: Figurative Processes in Context
  • Contextual Factors in Metaphor Creation in Discourse
  • Metaphors in the Speech of Children with Language Impairment
  • A Few Remarks on the Distinction between Metaphor, Metonymy, and Synecdoche
  • Frame, Metaphor and Metonymy in Onomasiological Lexicography
  • Part 2: Metaphor, Conceptual Integration Networks and Political Discourse
  • Ideology as a Contextual Factor in Metaphor Production
  • Politicians-are-Animals Metaphor in Scenarios of Breeding and Hunting in Polish Political Discourse
  • Rats Can’t Swim: How Brandt and Brandt’s Model of Conceptual Integration Operates Behind Selected American Political Cartoons
  • Worldview, Metaphor, and Politics. The Translator’s Perspective
  • Part 3: Metaphor, Conceptual Integration Networks and the Conceptualization of Emotions
  • Degrees of Metaphoricity: A Dynamic View on Fear Metaphors
  • Metaphors and Metonymies of Emotions in Three Unrelated Signed Languages
  • Loss for Words & Words for Loss How Americans Talk About Loss When They Grieve: Metaphor and Blend
  • Part 4: Categories and Categorization
  • On Some Peculiarities of the Semantics of Non-Prototypical Members of Disease Category: A Corpus-Based Analysis
  • On the Polysemy of the Lexical Item Europe: An Approach from Access Semantics
  • Part 5: Cognitive Linguistic Accounts of Grammar
  • The Role of Constructional Factors in Passivization Infinitival Passives of Perception Verbs
  • The English get-Passive Revisited
  • Perceptual Structures and Grammatical Constructions on the Basis of Aspectual Opposition in French
  • Verb Transfer in L2 Acquisition vs. Stage Model of Figure/Ground A Case Study with Evidence from Lithuanian and German
  • Towards More Radical Solutions for Categorization Problem in Phonology A Cognitive Grammar Perspective

← 8 | 9 →

Małgorzata Fabiszak and Karolina Krawczak

Faculty of English, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań

Categorization in Discourse and Grammar

1.  Cognitive Linguistics: Basic Assumptions and New Trends

Cognitive Linguistics emerged from the dissatisfaction with how generative grammar dealt with meaning. During the Linguistics Wars (Harris 1995), the modularity of language, i.e. its special status vis a vis other cognitive abilities, and its innateness have been questioned and a new theory of language as originating in use through general cognitive processes such as categorization, generalization, and abstraction has been proposed. Unlike in generative grammar, in Cognitive Linguistics, the focus is on meaning construction and language in use. Lakoff and Johnson (1999: 6), in their philosophical manifest stress that “there is no Chomskyan person, for whom language is pure syntax, pure form insulated from and independent of all meaning, context, perception, emotion, memory, attention, action, and the dynamic nature of communication.” Thus, they reject the generative approach, which abstracted from linguistic performance and focused on the competence of the ideal native speaker, the competence viewed as a generator of acceptable grammatical structures independent of meaning. In Cognitive Linguistics, language is embodied, usage-based and sensitive to its context of use.

This change in the research scope has been nicely summarized by Bernardez (2007: 33f.). He traces the approach to cognition as a subject of linguistic research and shows that it is characterized by a move away from autonomous cognition based on the BRAIN IS A COMPUTER metaphor and towards an ever-expanding understanding of cognition in context. The expansion starts with cognition in the context of our own bodies – embodied cognition, through socio-cultural context – situated cognition, the context of interaction with other minds and tools – distributed cognition to, finally – synergic cognition, which expands the context beyond the here and now and into the historical dimension of the socio-cultural context. This last stage of expansion resulted in the interbreeding of cognitive linguistics and discourse analysis as evidenced in the multitude of studies into metaphorical construction of ideologies (e.g., in immigration discourse Hart 2010, in political speeches Charteris-Black 2013, in anti-Semitic discourse Musolff 2010).

For Lakoff and his collaborators (Lakoff & Johnson 1980, 1999; Lakoff 1987, 1996; Lakoff & Turner 1989; Johnson 1987), analysis of linguistic expressions leads to the uncovering of conceptual categories. The basic findings of this research ← 9 | 10 → project are that meaning is embodied and abstract concepts are metaphorically built on more concrete concepts. Universal trends in language structure are not a result of genetic endowment, but evolve as a result of commonalities in human bodies and brains. Language-specific differences arise from the differences in the environment, understood both as an ecological niche and a socio-historical and cultural construct. Universality and culture-specificity of metaphors and conceptualization has been discussed in much detail with respect to the categorization of emotions (e.g. Kövecses 1990, 2005; Krawczak 2014, 2015; Mikołajczuk 2004).

In Cognitive Linguistics, grammatical and lexical categories form a continuum, hence the boundaries between phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics and pragmatics are fuzzy. Linguistic categories are similar to all other categories, in that they are prototypically structured with central and peripheral members of the category. Naturally, the degree of prototypicality of any given member is context-dependent, which is to say that, on any occasion of use, the relevant aspects of a given category are contextually activated. In general terms, conceptual prototypicality is often operationalized in terms of frequency: the more frequent a given usage is, the more entrenched it becomes in our cognition (cf. Geeraerts 2015: 239f.). Cognitive entrenchment, in turn, which is central to language acquisition, use and change, is a process whereby frequently recurrent units or usage-features are abstracted across communicative events and reinforced for the individual (Langacker 1987). In fact, this ultimately means that grammar is emergent (Hopper 1987; Bybee 2007) and contextual. At the level of individual use, grammar emerges from context, which determines the presentation of conceptual information, i.e., construal (Langacker 1987). At the level of the cognitive system, grammar emerges from many instances of usage through entrenchment (for the individual) and conventionalization (for the community) of frequently encountered features.

The present collection of articles entitled Categorization in Discourse and Grammar reflects the trends and assumptions of Cognitive Linguistics described above. It is divided into 5 parts addressing different aspects in current categorization research. Part 1: Figurative Processes in Context considers certain new theoretical developments: the role of contextual factors in metaphor production and the delimitation of the categories of metaphor, metonymy and synecdoche. It also looks into new contexts of application: language acquisition/language disorders and lexicography.

Part 2: Metaphor, Conceptual Integration Networks and Political Discourse consists of four contributions. The first is closely linked with the theoretical investigation from part 1 and focuses on ideology as a contextual factor in metaphor ← 10 | 11 → construction. The second article offers new insights into how the Great Chain of Beings metaphor POLITICIANS ARE ANIMALS is deployed in political discourse. The third presents a multimodal analysis of political cartoons within the current version of integration networks theory. The final contribution in this section is a pilot study attempting to operationalize Underwood’s model of worldview.

Part 3: Metaphor, Conceptual Integration Networks and the Conceptualization of Emotions continues with the application of Conceptual Metaphor Theory and Integration Networks Theory in various empirical studies, this time focusing on the categorization of emotions. In this part, the first study focuses on the conceptualization of fear, but goes beyond mere description and reflects on the notion of degrees of metaphoricity. The second contribution offers a cross-linguistic comparison of emotion terms in three unrelated sign languages pointing to some universal tendencies among them. The third and last contribution of this section concentrates on grief and offers an integration network analysis of meaning construction in a number of individual interviews.

Part 4: Categories and Categorization consists of only two contributions. One is a corpus-based analysis of the category of DISEASE, while the other investigates the polysemy of the lexeme Europe.

Part 5: Cognitive Linguistic Accounts of Grammar offers three studies focusing on various aspects of meaning construciton through the use of grammatical structure, in particular looking into infinitival passives of perception verbs, get passives, and aspectual oppositions. The other two chapters address issues of lexical transfer and the problem of categorization in phonology. A more detailed account of the particular chapters is offered below.

2.  Figurative Processes in Context

In the first contribution to this volume, Zoltán Kövecses further elaborates Conceptual Metaphor Theory by considering the role of context in metaphorical meaning making. He incorporates findings from language acquisition and language evolution, such as joint attention and joint action and stresses the role of the communicative scene for the creation of metaphors in discourse. He proposes a classification of contextual factors into situational, linguistic, conceptual-cognitive, and bodily. They operate along a continuum from local to global context.

Danuta Pluta-Wojciechowska investigates the comprehension and production of metaphors in children between 6–10 years of age with a language impairment of cleft lip and palate. Her results unambiguously show that these children obtain poorer results in metaphor comprehension and production tests than their healthy peers. Thus, she posits that speech therapy for these patients should be expanded ← 11 | 12 → beyond pure pronunciation practice and should involve higher-level language skills as well. It is particularly important in the case of metaphors, as their skillful use and understanding is necessary for the general cognitive development.

The theory-oriented contribution by Wojciech Wachowski considers the question of how to delimit the boundaries between metaphor, metonymy and synec-doche. It starts with a comprehensive overview of literature on the topic. Then the author concentrates on two issues. One is the inherent personal variation in the delimitation and structure of conceptual domains. The other is the frequent intertwining of the three figurative processes. These two observations lead Wachowski to believe that classifying a particular use as one or the other can only be done for each instance of use in a given context on a one-by-one basis.

The article by Jarosław Wiliński is an applied Cognitive Linguistics study. It shows how the lexical entries in onomasiological dictionaries could be constructed in order to reflect our knowledge about semantic frames, metonymies and metaphors. Whether such construction of dictionary entries would facilitate comprehension and retention of new vocabulary items remains to be seen.

3.  Metaphor, Conceptual Integration Networks and Political Discourse

Orsolya Putz in her paper presents a case study illustrating how one of the contextual factors proposed by Kövecses (2015 and this volume) can influence metaphor production in political discourse. The focus of investigation is the role of ideology and embodiment in the discursive metaphorical representation of the treaty of Trianon in Hungarian inter-war period. The author emphasizes the mutual interaction between metaphor and ideology as metaphor is constitutive of and constituted by ideology.

The next article by Ewa Gieroń-Czepczor continues the investigation of the use of metaphor in political discourse. It concentrates on the POLITICIANS ARE ANIMALS metaphor in the Polish media and analyzes both verbal and multimodal data. The study looks into the particular mappings and entailments construing the image of the political opponent. It finishes with a discussion of the conceptual dimension of intertextuality.

The study by Agnieszka Mierzwińska-Hajnos is another contribution focusing on multimodal data. Political cartoons are analyzed with the use of the revized model of conceptual integration (Brandt & Brandt 2005). The analysis shows the importance of global context and the communicative situation for the construction and comprehension of meaning. ← 12 | 13 →

Anna Wyrwa’s work is a pilot study attempting to operationalize Underhill’s (2011) model of worldview. As a test case for her proposal she selects three metaphors from a speech of a Polish MEP and their English translations. The proposed analytic tool allows her to point out how differences in the linguistic choices can result in the construction of different worldviews.

4.  Metaphor, Conceptual Integration Networks and The Conceptualization of Emotions

Anna Rewiś-Łętkowska’s article is a third contribution analyzing multimodal data. Her data consist of a collection of textual fragments, a cartoon and a commercial. The focus of analysis is the conceptualization of FEAR and how verbal and visual factors contribute to the reawakening (Müller 2008) of the metaphors in particular contexts of use.

The next contribution of this section, by Krzysztof Kosecki, looks at a number of expressions for feeling and emotions from a cross-linguistic perspective. It analyzes signs for emotions in three unrelated sign languages: American Sign Language, British Sign Language and Polish Sign Language. Metaphor, metonymy and metaphtonymy are identified as motivating the use of hand shape, motion, orientation and localization in body space. Certain universal trends are observed between the three analyzed languages as well as between sign languages and phonic languages (Kövecses 1986, 1990).

Kamila Midor in her paper analyzes the conceptualization of grief and loss. This empirical study uses the transcription of 5 interviews with American English speakers and analyzes their talk within the conceptual integration model. This allows the author not only to carefully examine non-conventional ways of expressing grief, but also to point to certain advantages of using the model of online processing as opposed to the static CMT model. The interpretation of the verbal expressions is often supported with an analysis of co-speech gestures and offers an insightful image of the conceptualization of grief and loss.

5.  Categories and Categorization

The two papers comprising this section both adopt a corpus-based perspective to investigate the conceptualization of two different abstract categories in English. The first article, by Maria Libura, Agnieszka Libura, and Paweł Bechler, deals with the concept of DISEASE and addresses two questions. Firstly, it considers the prototypical structure of the category and draws analogy between the frequency of occurrence in the corpus and the centrality of its specific members. Secondly, ← 13 | 14 → it compares folk and expert conceptualizations of a selected range of the category members. The findings demonstrate that less prototypical diseases exhibit a less complex semantic structure and manifest more striking differences in the two types of conceptualizations.

The second paper in this section, by Przemysław Wilk, focuses on the lexical category EUROPE and its conceptualization in the press discourse. Through the analysis of a large sample of contextualized examples of the lexical items associated with the lemma, the author reveals its conceptual polysemy. This is attained within the framework of the Lexical Concepts and Cognitive Models Theory (Evans 2006, 2009). What is particularly important in this regard is the process of contextual activation of relevant aspects in the semantic structure of the category, which draws on a rich body of general non-linguistic knowledge.

6.  Cognitive Linguistic Accounts of Grammar

The first two contributions in this section deal with passive constructions in English from a corpus-based quantitative perspective. More specifically, the first study, by Joanna Podhorodecka, focuses on the passivization of three perception verbs, i.e., hear, see and feel. The data were annotated for formal and semantic factors (e.g., infinitive form, Aktionsart, boundedness or type of complement verb) and analyzed quantitatively through multiple correspondence analysis (Glynn 2014) to establish what determines the choice between the passive and active uses of the verbs under investigation. The results demonstrate that the choice between the passive and active construal is the most flexible for see, with the two other verbs having more distinct preferences marked by statistically significant associations.

The second article examining the passive voice, by Agnieszka Kaleta, revisits the get-passive constructions in English and, in so doing, it employs the method of distinctive collexeme analysis (Stefanowitsch & Gries 2003; Gries & Stefanowitsch 2004). It seeks to establish the prototypically-organized polysemous network of senses related to the passive construction [get + PAST PARTICIPLE], which is compared to the more wide-spread passive construction [be + PAST PARTICIPLE]. The findings show that the get-passives exhibit a radial category structure with a number of related meanings. Importantly, the construal imposed by this construction is found to be more dynamic than that linked to the be-passive, which the author attributes to the semantic properties of the passivizing verb get.

Katarzyna Kwapisz-Osadnik’s study is devoted to the interaction between tense and aspect in French. More precisely, it addresses the influence of perception upon conceptualization and the choice of a specific construal in conveying the same temporal information. The author points out that French is interesting in ← 14 | 15 → this regard because the grammatical aspect is conveyed through tense marking and French tenses exhibit plasticity with respect to expressing temporal and aspectual information. In the spirit of Cognitive Linguistics, Kwapisz-Osadnik also emphasizes the importance of contextual, socio-cultural and situational factors in the choice of specific construals in general, and those bearing upon temporality, in particular.

Józef Marcinkiewicz, in his contribution concerning verb transfer in L2 acquisition, adopts the stage model of figure/ground, as developed within Cognitive Grammar (Langacker 1987). This study employs the analytic tools provided by Langacker’s (1987) view on conceptualization to examine the cognitive motivations behind L2 errors. Actual examples of language errors are analyzed to demonstrate the applicability of the model. The author expects that the approach he adopts and his findings may provide valuable insights for language teaching methodology.

The last article of the volume, by Kamila Turewicz, addresses the problem of categorization of phonological units and proposes a novel solution that integrates two radically different perspectives. The first of the perspectives considered by Turewicz comes from within the framework of Cognitive Grammar, where the profile/base alignment in conceptualization is particularly relevant. The other perspective that forms the basis of the proposed model is neurophysiological and is linked to Wickelgren’s (1969) discussion of context-sensitive allophones and associative memory.


Bybee, J. 2007. Frequency of Use and the Organization of Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Bernardez, E. 2007. Synergy in the construction of meaning. In M. Fabiszak (ed.), Language and Meaning. Cognitive and functional perspectives. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.

Brandt, L. & P. A. Brandt. 2005. Making sense of a blend. A cognitive-semiotic approach to metaphor. Annual Review of Cognitive Linguistics 3: 216–249.

Charteris-Black, J. 2013. Analysing Political Speeches. Rhetoric, discourse and metaphor. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

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Evans, V. 2009. How Words Mean: Lexical concept, cognitive models and meaning construction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ← 15 | 16 →

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Glynn, D. 2014. Correspondence analysis: Exploring data and identifying patterns. In D. Glynn & J. Robinson (eds.), Corpus Methods for Semantics. Quantitative studies in polysemy and synonymy, 443–486. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Gries, St. Th. & A. Stefanowitsch. 2004. Extending collostructional analysis: A corpus-based perspective on alternations. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics 9: 97–129.

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ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2016 (March)
conceptual metaphor contextual factors political discourse emotions
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2016. 336 pp., 67 b/w fig., 16 tables

Biographical notes

Małgorzata Fabiszak (Volume editor) Karolina Krawczak (Volume editor) Katarzyna Rokoszewska (Volume editor)

Małgorzata Fabiszak is a University Professor and Karolina Krawczak is an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of English, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań. Katarzyna Rokoszewska is an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Philology and History, Jan Długosz University in Częstochowa.


Title: Categorization in Discourse and Grammar
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338 pages