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The Literary Mind: The Origins of Thought and Language
by Mark Turner
We usually consider literary thinking to be peripheral and dispensable, an activity for specialists: poets, prophets, lunatics, and babysitters. Certainly we do not think it is the basis of the mind. We think of stories and parables from Aesop's Fables or The Thousand and One Nights, for example, as exotic tales set in strange lands, with spectacular images, talking animal ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published December 17th 1998 by Oxford University Press, USA
(first published January 1st 1996)
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Mar 19, 2009 Elaine rated it it was amazing · review of another edition
Recommends it for: inquisitive minds
Mark Turner belongs to a cadre of linguistics scholars who examine in depth the way ordinary people - indeed, all speakers of a language -- utilize metaphor, metonymy and various modes of mental mapping in all their speech. Unlike his colleagues, writers like George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, Turner focuses on the interface between syntax and semantics, and shows, for instance, how an utterance like "people banded together to force him into defeat" takes our perceptions of space, such as pushing s ...more
Having read Lakoff and Johnson's work "Philosophy in the Flesh", among others, the notion of language as fundamentally metaphoric or parable wasn't new to get through. What Turner does here though is a great job of introducing such thinking through the lens of story/narrative/parable with enough examples to drive home how we as human beings construct our communication. Such thinking is completely against the Chomsky notion of a spontaneously arising cognitive module ready-made with a full gramma ...more
Starts off slow if you are already familiar with the idea of conceptual metaphor (called story and parable here), but develops the notion of blending spaces to explain how source and target interact selectively. Turner then runs with the idea that story, projection and parable are the rudiments of language and not the other way around. A compelling if under-footnoted argument.
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“Common or default recruitments are a phenomenon of thought in general: we are always ready to use default conceptual connections as we think. It is important to recognize, however, that common, default recruitments do not give us fixed basic concepts: we can always unplug the default connections; they are, in technical jargon, “defeasible.” They look stable and fixed sometimes, but only because they are entrenched.”More quotes…