Image Schemas and Linguistic Relativity

Alexander Gross language at
Tue May 11 06:02:32 UTC 2004

I wonder if it's truly Monica's posting (which I accept as innocent) that
has caused the confusion.  I rather suspect it's the whole tradition grown
up over the last forty-five years of accepting generalizations and
assertions about linguistics as "scientific" which are at best merely
"scienti-vistic,"  i.e. couched in seemingly scientific terminology, at
worst pure pseudo-science.

A few other such assertions, well-known to most of you:

1. All languages are based on--or are unified by or can be generated from
(accounts vary)--a universal grammar.

2.  A sublimely simple linguistic metatheory exists proving that (1) is

3.  Infants suffer from a "poverty of stimulus."

4.  Only the examples provided by those advocating a linguistic theory need
be studied, and almost all other instances of spoken or written language can
be conveniently ignored.

5. The terms "carburetor," "bureaucrat," "doorknob," and "tweezers" are
innate in the human mind and in human language.

6.  A whole new domain of cognitive linguistics, following a previously new
domain of psycholinguistics, will sooner or later prove that all these
statements are true.

7.  One neeed know only one language to understand how all languages work.

8. All these ideas are already so broadly and completely accepted by the
scientific community that opposing theories need not be examined.

Dissertations, tenures, careers, department chairs have been decided on the
basis of the acceptance or rejection of unsupported claims such as these.
Is it any wonder that some among us may turn a trifle resistant when these
generalizations are seemingly further expanded to include visual phenomena?

very best to all!


----- Original Message -----
From: "Rob Freeman" <rjfreeman at>
To: "Paul Hopper" <ph1u at>; "Monica Gonzalez-Marquez"
<mg246 at>; <funknet at>
Sent: Sunday, May 09, 2004 2:03 AM
Subject: Re: [FUNKNET] Image Schemas and Linguistic Relativity

> Resignation is harsh punishment. But I think it is worth chasing such
> statements in public announcements, simply because there are going to be
> less well informed, more easily influenced, individuals who won't see the
> posturing as provocative, but will assume it is the accepted position.
> In linguistics perhaps less so than in German politics... or perhaps not
> Anyway, I'm glad to see the issue of subjectivity in "image schemas" has
had a
> good airing on the list.
> I hope you have a good workshop Monica.
> Best,
> Rob Freeman
> On Saturday 08 May 2004 08:48, Paul Hopper wrote:
> > I understood Monica's call for papers all along to be stating two
> > positions, rather than endorsing one of them herself. As a means of
> > up opinions along the entire spectrum of views, it seems a perfectly
> > legitimate tactic in a call for papers.
> >
> > But it's an interesting category confusion, between direct and indirect
> > disourse, de re and de dictu, linguistic and metalinguistic, whatever
> > to call it. Failure to contextualize the two poles adequately can get
> > people into serious trouble. A few years ago a German politician had to
> > resign after giving a speech in which he rhetorically adopted the
> > of a supporter of right-wing extremists and seemed to many to be
> > the very views he was actually opposing.
> >
> > Paul Hopper

More information about the Funknet mailing list