Call for abstracts: EMCL: A Workshop on Image-Schemasand Linguistic Relativity

Alexander Gross language at
Sat Apr 17 21:55:51 UTC 2004

Hi, Monica, Rob and I agree on a few things and disagree on others.  But I
think he's come close to hitting the nail on the head when he points out
that there's not the slightest reason to suppose that so-called "image
schemas" would be the "same for everyone" regardless of language or culture.
If anything I don't think he's gone far enough.

I believe the crux of the problem lies in a preconception shared by many
would-be scientists today that ANYTHING could be the "same for everyone,"
that all or most phenomena can be reduced to a single set of explanations.
We see this preconception in the search for a Grand Unified Theory ("GUT")
by physicists, a genomic solution for all illness by biologists, a
data-perfect digital system of weather prediction by meteorologists, and of
course all the unprovable  universalist claims prevalent in modern
linguistics and so-called "cognitive research."

Somehow all of this gets called science, but is it?  Can we truly depend on
it that these various "everything theories" will work out in practice and
account for all (or even most) possible phenomena?  Or could this all turn
out to be nothing more than a latter-day hankering after a deity?  Could it
just be that many or perhaps most of these theories are in fact grounded in
local, transient, and often irreproducible causes?  And could it also be
that these local, transient, and irreproducible causes are responsible for
most of life as we know it, including language, cognitive functions,
illness, the weather, the maintenance of our planet in the universe, and
even the continued existence of that universe?  If so, instead of positing
the existence of universal, enduring, and scientifically replicable ideals,
might it not behoove us to study what these local, transient, and
irreproducible causes may be, and might we not come to understand more about
even the irreproducible ones by so doing?

Might these not be the questions we should really be asking if we were truly
practicing science, a field which was after all supposed to be  based on
skepticism and continually asking questions, and not the hit-or-miss,
wistful, wishful thinking we find in this claim  about image schemas (which
of course also conveniently ignores everything we know about images from
art, archaeology, Jungian psychology, and the study of other cultures)?

very best to all!


BTW, Rob, I am simultaneously sending you privately my reply to your
thoughts about maths (aka math) becoming the next "everything theory" that
will sooner or later be able to handle most language problems.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Rob Freeman" <rjfreeman at>
To: "Monica Gonzalez-Marquez" <mg246 at>;
<funknet at>
Sent: Monday, April 12, 2004 2:49 AM
Subject: Re: [FUNKNET] Call for abstracts: EMCL: A Workshop on
Image-Schemasand Linguistic Relativity

> Hi Monica,
> I won't be submitting any abstracts, but reading your CFP it just occurred
> me to ask _why_ Image-Schemas would need to be "the same for everybody",
> because they arise from "universal aspects of how the human body interacts
> with its environment".
> The wide variety of different cultures we see in the world, for example,
> arise from similar "universal aspects of how the human body interacts with
> its environment", but we accept that different cultures address those
> universal problems in different ways. Why couldn't image schemas show as
> variation as cultures, and indeed languages?
> -Rob
> On Friday 09 April 2004 01:39, Monica Gonzalez-Marquez wrote:
> > Call for abstracts
> >
> > EMCL*: A Workshop on Image-Schemas and Linguistic Relativity
> >
> > July 17, 2004
> >
> > University of Portsmouth, UK
> > To precede the Language, Culture, and Mind conference (July 18-20)
> >
> > In cognitive linguistics, image schemas are pre-linguistic cognitive
> > structures, arising from universal aspects of how the human body
> > interacts with its environment, both physical and social, and existing
> > largely outside of conscious awareness. It follows that image schemas
> > are the same for everyone, regardless of the language a person speaks.
> > In contrast, the idea of linguistic relativity maintains that language
> > influences thought. The goal of the workshop is to scrutinize
> > assumptions surrounding image-schemas and linguistic relativity in an
> > attempt to elucidate (and resolve) the conflict between the two research
> > areas.
> >
> > We invite submissions from researchers working in either or both areas,
> > and are especially interested in experimental approaches to the issues.
> > Please send a 500 word anonymous abstract as an attachment in text
> > format to Monica Gonzalez-Marquez at mg246 at
> >
> > Deadline: May 5, 2004
> > Notification of acceptance: May 20, 2004
> >
> > Organising Committee:
> >
> > Stanka Fitneva
> > Monica Gonzalez-Marquez
> > Stephanie Pourcel
> > J^rg Zinken
> >
> > * Empirical Methods in Cognitive Linguistics

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