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The Literal and Nonliteral in Language and Thought


Seana Coulson and Barbara Lewandowska-Tomaszczyk

The distinction between literal and nonliteral meaning can be traced back to folk models about the relationship between language and the world. According to these models, sentences can be seen as building a representation of the world they describe, and understanding a sentence means knowing how each linguistic element affects the construction of the representation. Papers in this volume connect these folk models to the more scientific notions of the literal/nonliteral distinction proposed by philosophers, linguists, and cognitive scientists. The current volume examines the literal/nonliteral distinction from a number of disciplinary and theoretical perspectives, outlining some of the problematic assumptions in traditional paradigms and pointing to promising directions for the study of meaning.
Contents: Seana Coulson: The Literal/Nonliteral Distinction – Mark Turner: The Literal Versus Figurative Dichotomy – Elżbieta Tabakowska: «Figurative»: Subjectification of Meaning in A (Literary) Text – Margaret H. Freeman: Is Iconicity Literal? Cognitive Poetics and the Literal Concept in Poetry – Barbara Lewandowska-Tomaszczyk: The Nature of Negation: Literal Or Not-Literal – Todd Oakley: Negation and Blending: A Cognitive Rhetorical Approach – Seana Coulson: Sarcasm and the Space Structuring Model – Michael Israel: The Rhetoric of ‘Literal Meaning’ – Begoña Vicente: Meaning in Relevance Theory and the Semantics/Pragmatics Distinction – Zoltán Kövecses: Is Thought (Meaning) Essentially Literal? The Relationship Between Literal-Figurative and Concrete-Abstract Meanings – Raymond W. Gibbs, Jr.: Literal and Nonliteral Meanings Are Corrupt Ideas: A View From Psycholinguistics – Noa Shuval/Rachel Giora: Beyond Figurativeness: Optimal Innovation and Pleasure – Benjamin Bergen: Mental Simulation in Literal and Figurative Language Understanding – Alan Cienki: Gesture and the Question of Literal Versus Non-Literal Reference – Gerard Steen: What Counts as a Metaphorically Used Word? The Pragglejaz Experience – Per Aage Brandt: Literalness and the Nature of Meaning – Mateusz W. Oleksy: Embodied Realism and Its Challenge to Philosophy – Tim Adamson: What is Metaphorical Cognition? Two Philosophical Models – Afterword: Why Literal Meaning? An Interview with George Lakoff.