Rediscovering the cognitive-semiotic and cognitive-pragmatic approaches to metaphor in the work of Johann Heinrich Lambert and Philipp Wegener

Ulrike Schröder

Belo Horizonte (schroederulrike@gmx.com)

Abstract

Since the advent of Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT) more than thirty years ago, many researchers have pointed to the problems of this approach due to its lack of historiographical contextualization, given that the major hypotheses of conceptual metaphor as well as many examples were already anticipated by philosophers, anthropologists, psychologists and linguists from the 17th century onwards. The article introduces two authors from the 18th and 19th centuries: the philosopher Johann Heinrich Lambert (1764/1965) and the linguist Paul Wegener (1885/1991). Not only did they develop a cognitive theory of metaphors ‘we live by’ but they also included some pragmatic aspects rediscovered in recent works on cognitive metaphor and characterized as issues disregarded by the first generation of CMT. Therefore, remembering the works of Lambert and Wegener may help to build a bridge from their work to current discussions. On the one hand, the approaches of both scholars allude to ways of overcoming the cleavage between the solipsistic individual and society; on the other hand, both works address the dichotomy of universalism and cultural relativity. Most importantly, they concurrently understand metaphor as a cognitive and intersubjective phenomenon negotiated between participants in real communication.

Seit Beginn der Konzeptuellen Metapherntheorie (KMT), die sich im Rahmen der Kognitiven Semantik von Lakoff & Johnson (1980) vor mehr als dreißig Jahren herauszubilden beginnt, haben Forscher wiederholt auf die mangelnde historiographische Einbettung des Ansatzes aufmerksam gemacht, d.h. darauf, dass die Kernthesen sowie viele ihrer Beispiele bereits in philosophischen, anthropologischen, psychologischen und sprachwissenschaftlichen Arbeiten seit dem 17. Jahrhundert antizipiert werden. Der Aufsatz stellt zwei Autoren des 18. und 19. Jahrhunderts vor – den Philosophen Johann Heinrich Lambert (1764/1965) und den Sprachwissenschaftler Paul Wegener (1885/1991) –, die nicht nur bereits eine kognitive Theorie der Metaphern, ‘in denen wir leben’ vorlegen, sondern gleichermaßen pragmatische Aspekte einbeziehen, die in jüngeren Untersuchungen als von der ersten Generation der KMT vernachlässigt aufgearbeitet werden. Sich der Vorarbeiten von Lambert und Wegener zu besinnen, so die hier vertretene These, wäre ein hilfreicher Brückenschlag zur aktuellen Diskussion, zumal die Ansätze beider Theoretiker Wege aufzeigen, wie die Kluft zwischen dem Individuellen und Sozialen überwunden werden kann. Darüber hinaus beschäftigen sich ihre Untersuchungen bereits mit der Dichotomie von Universalismus und kultureller Variation und sind in ihrem Verständnis der Metapher als kognitives und intersubjektives Phänomen, das zwischen Teilnehmern in realer Kommunikation ausgehandelt wird, der heutigen Auffassung von Metapher sehr nahe.

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Rediscovering the cognitive-semiotic and cognitive-pragmatic approaches to metaphor in the work of Johann Heinrich Lambert and Philipp Wegener

Ulrike Schröder; Belo Horizonte (schroederulrike@gmx.com)

Abstract

Since the advent of Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT) more than thirty years ago, many researchers have pointed to the problems of this approach due to its lack of historiographical contextualization, given that the major hypotheses of conceptual metaphor as well as many examples were already anticipated by philosophers, anthropologists, psychologists and linguists from the 17th century onwards. The article introduces two authors from the 18th and 19th centuries: the philosopher Johann Heinrich Lambert (1764/1965) and the linguist Paul Wegener (1885/1991). Not only did they develop a cognitive theory of metaphors ‘we live by’ but they also included some pragmatic aspects rediscovered in recent works on cognitive metaphor and characterized as issues disregarded by the first generation of CMT. Therefore, remembering the works of Lambert and Wegener may help to build a bridge from their work to current discussions. On the one hand, the approaches of both scholars allude to ways of overcoming the cleavage between the solipsistic individual and society; on the other hand, both works address the dichotomy of universalism and cultural relativity. Most importantly, they concurrently understand metaphor as a cognitive and intersubjective phenomenon negotiated between participants in real communication.

Seit Beginn der Konzeptuellen Metapherntheorie (KMT), die sich im Rahmen der Kognitiven Semantik von Lakoff & Johnson (1980) vor mehr als dreißig Jahren herauszubilden beginnt, haben Forscher wiederholt auf die mangelnde historiographische Einbettung des Ansatzes aufmerksam gemacht, d.h. darauf, dass die Kernthesen sowie viele ihrer Beispiele bereits in philosophischen, anthropologischen, psychologischen und sprachwissenschaftlichen Arbeiten seit dem 17. Jahrhundert antizipiert werden. Der Aufsatz stellt zwei Autoren des 18. und 19. Jahrhunderts vor – den Philosophen Johann Heinrich Lambert (1764/1965) und den Sprachwissenschaftler Paul Wegener (1885/1991) –, die nicht nur bereits eine kognitive Theorie der Metaphern, ‘in denen wir leben’ vorlegen, sondern gleichermaßen pragmatische Aspekte einbeziehen, die in jüngeren Untersuchungen als von der ersten Generation der KMT vernachlässigt aufgearbeitet werden. Sich der Vorarbeiten von Lambert und Wegener zu besinnen, so die hier vertretene These, wäre ein hilfreicher Brückenschlag zur aktuellen Diskussion, zumal die Ansätze beider Theoretiker Wege aufzeigen, wie die Kluft zwischen dem Individuellen und Sozialen überwunden werden kann. Darüber hinaus beschäftigen sich ihre Untersuchungen bereits mit der Dichotomie von Universalismus und kultureller Variation und sind in ihrem Verständnis der Metapher als kognitives und intersubjektives Phänomen, das zwischen Teilnehmern in realer Kommunikation ausgehandelt wird, der heutigen Auffassung von Metapher sehr nahe.

1. Introduction

Since the arise of Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT) more than thirty years ago (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980, 1999), many researchers in the field of cognitive metaphor have pointed out the persisting eclecticism of the approach due to its lack of interest in historiographical contextualization (Chamizo Dominguez & Nerlich 2010; Hülzer-Vogt, 1987; Jäkel, 2003; Schmitz, 1985; Schröder, 2004, 2008, 2010a, 2012a). In fact, the majority of the basic hypotheses and even the main part of the examples have already been discussed since the beginning of the seventeenth century, especially in philosophical treatises (Clauberg, Vico, Locke, Leibniz, Lambert, Kant, Nietzsche, Mauthner, Vaihinger, Richards, Blumenberg), but also from anthropological (Herder, Boas, Sapir, Whorf, Gehlen), psychological (Stählin, Bühler) and linguistic (Paul, Wegener, Gerber, Biese, Lady Welby, Black, Weinrich) perspectives. All these contributions already imply a profound awareness of the cognitive-epistemological function of metaphor, its ubiquity in everyday life, as well as its affection both on a conceptual and linguistic level.

Below, we will introduce two researchers from the eighteenth and nineteenth century: the philosopher Johann Heinrich Lambert (1764/1965) and the linguist Philipp Wegener (1885/1991) – who were not only responsible for preliminarily developing a cognitive theory of everyday metaphor but also for integrating pragmatic-semiotic questions, which have been rediscovered in current discussions as facets which had never been considered by the first generation of Cognitive Linguistics (Cameron, 2007; Schröder, 2012a; Steen, 2007; Tendhal & Gibbs, 2008).

            As a guideline to elaborate a discussion about the connections between the CMT and the ideas of the two researchers in question, we will adopt the nine hypotheses as proposed by Jäkel (2003:40-41; 2002:21-22), who aims to condense the core assumptions of cognitive theory of metaphor. According to him, the cognitive theory of metaphor is composed of nine main tenets:

  1. Ubiquity Hypothesis: “Linguistic metaphor is not an exceptional matter of poetic creativity or excessive rhetoric.” (Jäkel, 2002:21)
  2. Domain Hypothesis: “Most metaphorical expressions are not to be treated in isolation, but as linguistic realizations of conceptual metaphors” (Jäkel, 2002:21) which serve as mappings from source to target domains.
  3. Model Hypothesis: “Conceptual metaphors form coherent cognitive models” as “complex gestalt structures of organized knowledge” of complex reality. (Jäkel, 2002:21)
  4. Diachrony Hypothesis: “Cognitive-semantic studies of metaphor show that even in the historical development of languages, most metaphorical meaning extensions are not a matter of isolated expressions, but provide evidence of systematic metaphorical projections between whole conceptual domains.” (Jäkel, 2002:21)
  5. Unidirectionality Hypothesis: Metaphor links an abstract and complex target domain as explanandum with a more concrete source domain as explanans, which is more simply structured and open to sensual experience. This relation is irreversible.
  6. Invariance Hypothesis: “In conceptual metaphors, certain schematic elements get mapped from the source domain onto the target domain without changing their basic structure.” (Jäkel, 2002:22)
  7. Necessity Hypothesis: “In general, metaphors have an explanatory function. Certain issues could hardly be understood or conceptualized at all without recourse to conceptual metaphor.” (Jäkel, 2002,22)
  8. Creativity Hypothesis: The metaphor is open for myriad new ways of thinking by restructuring ingrained patterns of thinking.
  9. Focusing Hypothesis: “Metaphors only supply a partial description or explanation of the target domain in question, highlighting certain aspects while hiding others.” (Jäkel, 2002:22)

2. Johann Heinrich Lambert and his double view on metaphor

            For the philosopher Lambert, who already raised semiotic questions in the eighteenth century und whose interest in epistemological problems made him a significant predecessor of Kant, the metaphor represents the tropus par excellence. He draws his attention to its double function, i.e. for Lambert the metaphor is simultaneously an implement of recognition and communication because it functions as a medium for the marks objects leave on men: it is through metaphor that the abstract turns expressible as well as communicable (Lambert, 1764b/1965:85). Thus, Lambert chooses the way of impression to claim a critical position with respect to the cognitive function of language. Concurrently, he attends to ideas about the communicative and conducting mechanisms of language so that his approach becomes fertile to current discussions.

            The starting point of his semiotics is characterized by the division between the necessary (dem Notwendigen), the arbitrary (dem Willkürlichen) and the hypothetical (dem Hypothetischen) which language encompasses. Ungeheuer (1979:97) conceives this particular terminology as an implicit introduction to the distinction between ‘communicative’ and ‘extracommunicative perspectives’ concerning the phenomenon of language:[1] By the term ‘the necessary’, Lambert refers to the representational relation between sign and concept; by the term ‘the arbitrary’ to the meaning of the signs themselves, that is, to the conventional meaning; and by the term ‘the hypothetical’ to the communicative practice. This implies a focus onto the process itself guided by the hypotheses about the meanings and the sense of the utterance as constructed by the respective interlocutors. Whereas the arbitrary aspect corresponds to an extracommunicative treatment of the linguistic means for being dedicated to the analysis of language as a system, the hypothetic aspect adverts to the management of communication, to the communication acts of language and to the practical problem involved asking for how the reciprocal understanding and the correspondence between the meaning of the word and the sense of talking would be achieved[2] (Ungeheuer, 1979:98).

For Lambert (1764a/1965:483), the basis for the comparison created by the metaphor lies in the similarity of the impression provoked in us by the sensations of external objects and the imagination of abstract and invisible objects.[3] As Ungeheuer (1980:92) predicts, Lambert also holds that the ubiquity of metaphor alludes to its indispensable function in the linguistic proceeding of communication in general. Once a metaphorical expression has been accepted by the interlocutors, there will be initiated a process of habitualization (Hülzer-Vogt, 1987:26), in which the different instances of the linguistic level are related to a cognitive principle beyond the mere words:

On the contrary, it has already been introduced that we compare the visible with the invisible, the corporal world with the intellectual word, the sensations with the thoughts using the same words and expressions for both. Thus words necessarily receive a double and sometimes also multiple meaning. Having a light in the room and having a light in the thoughts are examples of such ways of talking.[4] (Lambert, 1764a/1965:483)

Such anticipation of the conceptual metaphor understanding is seeing, as well as the image schemas container, path and force (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980, 1999) mentioned by Lambert shortly before the cited paragraph, adverts implicitly to the Domain Hypothesis (2). Furthermore, he refers to the semantic principle of polysemy whose basis, according to Lambert, is shaped by a more ‘general’ or more ‘transcendental’ notion. In this context, his comprehension of tertium comparationis is crucial by showing a certain analogy to the ‘Invariance Principle’, by Lakoff’s (1990) definition, and corresponding to the sixth hypothesis, according to Jäkel: Lambert posits a basic schema representing an invariable core content of the word that remains constant in all the divergent occasions in which the word is used. 

If Ungeheuer (1985:474) purports that Lambert refers to the meaning we have to elicit from the way of denomination of the word with regard to the corporal world[5], we can conclude that such a statement is consistent with the idea of the image structure maintained untouched in the metaphorical mapping. However, Lambert is not interested in providing a list of examples of conceptual metaphors and their corresponding metaphorical expressions but in focusing on entire semantic fields in order to reveal the underlying cognitive principle with regard to the fundamental difference between the corporal and intellectual world.

Notably, the approach of Lambert already bears out an awareness of the importance of synesthetic metaphors and the cognitive principle they are governed by. As Baldauf (1997) points out in her revision of the classification of metaphors according to Lakoff and Johnson, she calls such synesthetic metaphors ‘attributional metaphors’ and holds that they merit more attention than they have received so far. Lambert assigns a central epistemological function to them since they permit a comparison between sensations and thoughts. They designate the starting point from where man comes to entire analogical conclusions as reflected in the construction of the air pump in analogy to the water pump. Therewith Lambert already uses an analogy to illustrate his point in a similar way as Gentner and Gentner (1983) do in their famous experiment where subjects were asked to explain the functioning of an electric circuit by means of a light interrupter. In dependence on the analogy the subjects chose – a water flow or a flow of people – the conclusions they arrived at were quite different: A water flow stops as soon as any barrier prevents the ongoing flow, while a flow of people stops as soon as pressure comes into play and, as a consequence, rises congestion causing the disruption. In Cognitive Semantics, there are many references to this example to illustrate that such analogies might be defined as a “comparison based on perceived similarity” (Evans & Green, 2006:98). Kövecses (2005:265) stresses that in the case of analogy, on a generic level, source and target domains have in common the whole structure so that they can be characterized by holding similar structural relations which assigns a crucial point for the creativity of metaphor development. Finally, Kohl (2007:87) concludes that an analogy represents an extended version of metaphor where the source domain turns into a narration with coherent sequences of meaning.

Hence analogies and metaphors serve as orientations in everyday life, a conclusion which turns out to be of fundamental importance for the experientalism (Lakoff & Johnson 1980/2003) or embodied realism (Lakoff & Johnson 1999) more than 200 years later, as Lakoff and Johnson define the ubiquity of metaphor as an intellectual implement:

They [the metaphors, US] also govern our everyday functioning, down to the most mundane details. Our concepts structure what we perceive, how we get around in the world, and how we relate to other people. Our conceptual system thus plays a central role in defining our everyday realities. (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980/2003:3)

            At this point, the view of Lambert is in line with the notion of conflation according to Johnson (1999) who dedicates his research to a neuroscientific and developmental anchoring of CMT[6]. Despite lacking the physical evidence we have recently gotten access to, Lambert (1764a/1965, p. 483) already speculates that the metaphorical mapping has its origin in the parallelization of the executions of the body[7] and those of the mind,[8] the concrete knowledge being applied to the understanding of cognitive processes. Therefore we conceive our memory as a container since we also keep real objects in boxes. The nexus between box and memory yields a force of imagination[9] (Lambert, 1764b/1965:144).

            Ultimately, the Diachrony Hypothesis (4), the Unidirectionality Hypothesis (5) and the Creativity Hypothesis (8) come to the fore in Lamberts postulation of a three-step-meaning-formation, a theoretical construct, which Ungeheuer (1980) calls semantic tectonics of vocabulary:[10] According to such tectonics one may observe the historical development of language from a more basic level to a more abstract one: (a) at the first level, we find root words like the class of sensorially perceivable objects; (b) the second level implies the metaphorical use of the words of the first level and (c) the third level comprises meta-metaphors presuming those of the second level.

This interest in meaning changes and transformations bears a certain anticipation of the ‘radial networks’ theory as formulated by Lakoff (1987). As a consequence, for Lambert the main reason for the ongoing growth of language is not at all the increase of the number of words but the extension of the original meaning. First of all, metaphor serves as the elimination of a deficit[11] (Bertau, 1996:217) by compensating an initial situation in which a multiplicity of notions confronts a small number of words. It is this economic principle of the language that leads to the described development by the means of gradual metaphorization. Nevertheless, at the same time, danger arises with respect to misunderstandings in communication (Hülzer-Vogt, 1987:46), and arguments about words become more probable in the transition from the first to the third word class (Ungeheuer, 1980:92).

Thus, in addition to the anticipation of the Ubiquity Hypothesis (1) and the Domain Hypothesis (2), Lambert alludes to an important topic around the Focusing Hypothesis (9) which brings him to the field of communication less focused by the CMT. He broaches the issue of communicative problems which emerge as a consequence of metaphorical extensions of meanings when the speaker stresses a specific aspect of meaning in a specific instance of interaction but another one in the following. Furthermore, Lambert brings to the fore the possibility that each individual applies his proclaimed comparability to different aspects, that is, realizing a diverging selection as opposed to the interpretation constructed by the hearer. 

In compliance with Lambert, each one can choose a totally individual way of thinking to arrive at new metaphors[12] (Lambert, 1764b/1965:183). Hülzer-Vogt describes this situation analyzed by Lambert as a kind of paradox:

The need of an idealization of meaning stability in order to be able to trust, under these circumstances, in the success of communication stands against the need of meaning plurality of the words in order to be able to encompass and mediate new language insights[13] (Hülzer-Vogt, 1987:30, emphasis by the author)

Accordingly, the speaker tends to unconsciously establish idealizations and attributes these to the hearer, too: on the one hand, the significability of the attributions of the meaning Lambert (1764b/1965:182-183) calls ‘hermeneutic approval’[14], on the other hand, the identity of the meaning Lambert (1764b/1965:203) refers to by the principle ‘of the hypothetical of language’.[15] Notably the same idea resides in the ‘Principle of Relevance’ as conceived by Sperber and Wilson (1986/1995) who claim that human cognition tends to be relevant. Tendhal and Gibbs (2008) show how the two perspectives – the CMT and the cognitive-pragmatic approach of Sperber and Wilson – might be seen as complementary and not as excluding each other. In the view of Sperber and Wilson (1986/1995) metaphor only represents one aspect of the so-called ‘loose talk’ which they see as everyday talk practice characterized by vagueness. Thereby it is the responsibility of the hearer to construct a contextual meaning when applying interpretative strategies based on the Principle of Relevance to the given utterance. The authors (Sperber & Wilson, 2002:319) give an example:

Peter: Can we trust John to do as we tell him and defend the interests of the Linguistics department in the University Council?

Mary: John is a soldier.

Here, we can view a variety of alternative understandings regarding the term soldier: (a) John is aware of his duties, (b) John stands by to follow orders, (c) John never questions authorities, (d) John identifies himself with the goals of the group, (e) John is a patriot and one can count on him, (f) John has the income of a soldier and (g) John is member of the army. However, based on the known schema as presented by Peter (trust, defend, interests) Mary might understand directly what Peter wants to say. Such metaphors represent a ubiquitous phenomenon in everyday talk. As opposed to other theories in the fields of pragmatics, Sperber and Wilson do not distinguish between different ways of understanding in the case of metaphor compared to further linguistic means as each mere meaning in a phrase is always underdetermined. In this sense, the theory of Sperber and Wilson can in fact be seen as compatible and complementary to the CMT for its dedication to the inferential process as an aspect which is left out by Lakoff and Johnson. Anyhow, there are also divergences between the two approaches related to basic definitions as Sperber and Wilson (2008:84) themselves underscore: Whereas cognitive linguistics conceive metaphor as a language phenomenon constitutive for human cognition, Sperber and Wilson aim to adopt the communicative perspective of the participants involved in human interaction conceptualizing metaphors as emerging in the process of verbal communication. At this point, we agree with Tendhal and Gibbs (2008), for whom Sperber and Wilson introduce this fundamental aspect to the discussion, although the integrability of the two theories may be questioned because the perspective of Sperber and Wilson remains a rationalist and egological one, modeled by an instrumental, deductive view aimed as maximal relevance. In addition to that, Sperber and Wilson part from a position opposed to CMT concerning the foundation and development of language itself for choosing as a starting point of their account the conjunction of the ‘Theory of Implicature’ according to Grice and the ‘Modular Theory of Mind’ as proposed by Fodor, following the Principle of Modularity Cognitive Linguistics strives to leave behind. 

Although Lambert – as opposed to the characterization of metaphor as ‘loose talk’ in terms of Sperber and Wilson – still maintains the special status of metaphor, paying more attention to novel metaphors than to conventionalized ones, the two principles formulated by him show how the pragmatic-functionalistic and cognitive-epistemological perspectives might be complementary. At the same time, Lambert anticipates basic premises of modern theories of communication: (a) the Principle of Cooperation with its Maxims of Conversation as proposed by Grice (1975)[16] and (b) the ‘General Thesis of the Reciprocity of Perspectives’ with its idealizations of the ‘exchangeability of the viewpoints’ and the ‘congruity of the relevance systems’ as inaugurated by the philosopher and sociologist Alfred Schütz (1971:12-14), whose phenomenological foundation was the crucial impetus for the Ethnomethodology and, thereupon, the Conversation Analysis.

As Lambert puts it, especially the postulate of the reciprocity of the perspectives only might be converted conditionally once communication always remains fallible. This is a logical consequence of his basic hypothesis derived from his tectonics of language that metaphor acts like a fundamental principle in language growth. 

3. Philipp Wegener and his pioneering cognitive pragmatics

Influenced by the spirit of historical linguistics of the century,[17] the scientific outsider Philipp Wegener (1885/1991) describes the metaphor as a phenomenon profoundly entrenched in everyday talk. Metaphor has a decisive force in the development of language where, at the same time, its selective character is revealed (Wegener 1885/199:160). By choosing this starting-point, Wegener anticipates especially the first, fourth and ninth hypotheses as described by Jäkel. However, unlike the CMT, Wegener opts for a pragmatic point of view founding a theory of communication directed towards interaction: “Wegener was among the first to realize that speaking and understanding are preconditioned by and embedded in practical action and also dependent on the cooperation among the speakers.” (Knobloch, 1991:XVI). Hence the overarching benefit of his theory is the bridge he builds between pragmatic and cognitive aspects of language. That is why his approach should be remembered in current discussions which cope with this key question of how to overcome the seemingly artificial separation of cognitive and functional perspective.

Starting from a communicative point of view, Wegener arrives at theoretical questions related to cognition. The pivotal point of his account is the presumption that the principal goal of talk being the persuasion of the interlocutor as a kind of ‘influentiation’[18] to trigger a certain action, a certain volition or a certain state of consciousness. That implies a view where verbal signs do not have primarily an epistemological but an imperative function.

In accordance with such a functional-interactive view, Wegener starts his account with a differentiation of contextual factors playing a crucial role in the construction of meaning in the course of communication. He terms such contextual elements ‘exposition’ of the utterance. It comprises (a) the linguistic explication of the predicate for which reason Wegener also understands this element as ‘exposition’ in a more restrictive sense, (b) the ‘situation of imagination’[19], to which belong the personal and temporal conditions, (c) the ‘situation of remembrance’[20], that refers to the events and sequences happened immediately before, (d) the ‘situation of awareness’,[21] with which Wegener identifies meaning systems related to a specific domain and, finally, (e) the ‘cultural situation’[22] to which belong the geographical and historical embedding of an utterance.

Wegener is particularly concerned to bear out that the communication process cannot be seen as a manifestation of a verbal representation recomposed by the hearer, but instead has to be understood as a process of meaning construction where the speaker merely allocates an organized system of indications to the hearer, a system serving as basis for the act of (re)construction by the hearer. In that, it is possible to bring out a parallel to the ‘contextualization cues’ of the interactional-sociolinguistic theory of Gumperz (1982), as well as to the Theory of Implicature, as proposed by Grice (1975) as essential parts of the meaning are inferred by what was not explicitly said but understood implicitly. It is exactly this kind of context in which Wegener observers the emergence of cognitive metaphor: Through the prism of Wegener’s theory the co-text is responsible for the choice of a certain domain of our background knowledge which is activated when we hear, e.g., the word lion, i.e. it is the textual field that determines whether the speaker refers to the muscular force of the lion or to its posture. This implies that always only certain parts of a group of imagination are activated, namely those which serve as exposition of the predicate (Wegener, 1885/1991:49-50).

When Wegener confines his attention to an analysis of the variety of the meanings of the verbs give and have in dependence on the immediate co-text, it allows us to draw an analogy to a pragmatic-semantic version of the notion of valency as well as to the theory of Construction Grammar (Goldberg, 1992). According to Wegener, the difference between ‘having money’ and ‘having an idea’ demonstrate the metaphorical extension of the original meaning. Such verbs create expectations with respect to complements which corresponds to the idea of the activation of slots. Only the annulment of those slots affects the decision on our comprehension of the possible meaning of the verb.

Concomitantly, we can observe traces of the Frame Semantics (Fillmore, 1982/2006), the embodied realism (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980, 1999) as well as the notions of ‘schema’ (Bartlett, 1932; Lakoff, 1987; Johnson, 1987), ‘script’ (Schank & Abelson, 1977) and ‘scenario’ (Sanford & Garrod, 1981): for Wegener is convinced that it is only from our experience that emerges the expectation of a development of the event and by this emerges the schema regarding the way how we think we have to interconnect action sequences[23] (Wegener, 1885/1991:131).

Wegener already gives the answer of Cognitive Semantics together with its hypotheses of Necessity (7) and Ubiquity (1) when he launches the question of how to understand the emergence of something new by the activation of schemas and experience patterns via analogical projection and comparison: And before language had faded words for the logical subject language had been incapable to denominate the situation as by alluding the situation of imagination[24] (Wegener, 1885/1991:54).

Notice again that the terms ‘metaphor’, ‘comparison’ and ‘analogy’ are frequently used as synonyms although they are conceived through the prism of cognition: Following the terminology introduced by Aristotle, since Kant (1790/1990, 1781/1986) the expressions symbol and analogy have been used to refer to the basic mechanism of reality construction according to the new cognitive-epistemological paradigm. Yet Kant argues that it is by analogy that we conceive the state either as a body with a soul when we refer to the internal laws of a people, or as a machine when we refer to a single dominating volition (Kant 1790/1990: § 59). It is this idealistic branch of philosophy where the majority of the reflections about metaphor since the eighteenth century have their origin, such as the treatise of Biese (1893) or the account of Paul (1880/1995), and finally are influenced by Paul, only turning his solipsistic and psychological approach into an intersubjective one: the ideas of Wegener himself. From this the question arises whether (or not?) Wegener was directly influenced from Lambert. However, considering the abundance of contributions to the cognitive metaphor before the advent of Wegener, direct influence may be less supposable because as a secondary school teacher Wegener was a scientific outsider, even though he was marked by the philosophical discussions of his era like the research of Paul (1880/1995), who was the most important representative of the German School of ‘Young Grammarians’ (Junggrammatiker).[25]

With regard to Wegener’s focus on analogy, it is worth mentioning that we can observe a recurrence of interest in the cognitive metaphor as analogy in authentic language use and its affinity for certain communicative genres in recent work in the more cognitive-discursive oriented field of research:

Cameron (2008a) singles out how analogical process unfolds its own dynamics during the flow of conversation as a mechanism of ‘vehicle development’. She states that such analogical reasoning is typical for the interactions between teachers and students, and she gives an example where a teacher wants to explain to his students the phenomenon of volcanic eruption using an analogy of butter melting in the microwave. Schröder (2012a:295) throws some light on typical analogies used in current books about the end of the social welfare system in Germany. Here, for instance, the ‘House of Society’ is one omnipresent analogy to refer to those who have to leave the house or move to the basement. Beckmann (2001:121-124) shows how want ads in search for a relationship are often guided by a central analogy. People frequently introduce themselves as animals or desired objects such as cars. In the field of Discourse Analysis, Musolff (2004) and Zinken (2007) even put the analogy into the centre of their attention when analyzing political discourse.[26]

The examples Wegener gives stem from everyday talk and comprise verbs with prepositional prefixes and verbal complements as reflected in the expressions to reject an offer,[27] I refuse something,[28] I admit[29] or I describe the house orally[30] (Wegener, 1885/1991:136), verb-noun combinations as semantically weak verbs (Funktionsverbgefüge) like to let the point out[31] (Wegener, 1885/1991:136) and local descriptions like in the way of injustice[32] or on the path of sin[33] (Wegener, 1885/1991:142). For Wegener, as well as for Cognitive Semantics, such expressions reveal:

that there are fixed special patterns in our interior forming the basis for our understanding of special utterances and that we also carry patterns of our movement to our soul that serve as completing and understanding movement messages.[34] (Wegener, 1885/1991:165)

In line with the German linguistics at the end of the nineteenth century, directed to studies about regularities in the history and development of language (Paul, 1880/1995), for Wegener, the crucial mechanism of the changes of word meanings resides in the analogical formation. Thus, he introduces a gradual model to explain the process of the fading of metaphor through constant use. Like Lakoff and Johnson, Wegener also has no interest in bearing out isolated, singular expressions but in groups: “The metaphor is based on the connection of groups of imagination in accordance with partial sameness”[35] (Wegener, 1885/1991:52). Nevertheless, metaphorical expressions like the Krieg entbrennt (war begins to burn)[36] or der Krieg bricht aus (the war breaks out),[37] in correspondence with the terminology of Lakoff and Johnson reflecting the conceptual metaphor conflict is fire, in the view of Wegener, due to its conventionalization, the original sense is not any longer transparent to the users. As Wegener puts it, one only feels the sense stipulated by the situation, the ideas additionally related to the word entbrennen’ (begin to burn) are totally forgotten in the present connection[38] (Wegener, 1885/1991:52). Similarly to Sperber and Wilson as well as to the CMT itself, Wegener forecloses a criticism directed to intentionalist theories which we can find in the field of pragmatics (Grice 1975; Searle 1979/1993). For instance, Grice distinguishes between Sentence-Meaning, Word-Meaning and Utterer’s Meaning so that the metaphor is seen as a violation of the Conversational Maxims. Similarly, in Searle’s theory of reinterpretation (1979/1993), the comprehension of the metaphor passes through a two-step-procedure where the hearer (1) comes naturally to a literal interpretation but then (2) notices an anomaly and as a consequence, he tries to employ a metaphorical interpretation. This theory supposes that the literal comprehension is the unmarked case, that is, by resorting to Grice, Searle also distinguishes between two senses he denotes ‘meaning’ and ‘use’. Here the metaphor belongs to the appellative field of the speaker’s intention. In both approaches the metaphorical utterance remains an indirect communicative strategy based on monological-rational calculus. Both Grice and Searle see speech acts rather as individual than social actions since the difference between the two meanings gives support to the postulation of a difference between competence and performance, as well as between semantics and pragmatics.

Opposed to this view, psycholinguistic experiments have shown that theories assuming a two-step-process of reinterpretation cannot be hold. In contrast, the hearer does not understand the metaphor passing through two processes of interpretation but understands it as he understands every other lexical unit. The experiments of Hoffman and Kemper (1987) and Gibbs (1994), e.g. measure the reaction time for the processing of literal and metaphorical utterances and come to the conclusion that the subjects do not need more time to understand a metaphorical expression than a literal one. However, we should add that this observation apparently is only valid for conventional metaphors which Searle does not even define as metaphors. In fact, the subjects need more time to interpret innovative, novel metaphors (Giora, 2003:108).

For Wegener, the fading process of metaphor passes through three steps (Wegener, 1885/1991:52): (a) the adding of an exposition of an imagetic idea to the new metaphorical expression as in the example The war breaks out like a fire, (b) the comparison is compressed for being known: The war breaks out, (c) the association only with the group of war and no longer with the group of fire when hearing the utterance. Here, Wegener already treats the metaphor in a similar way to Steen in his cognitive-textual conceptualization of metaphor: whereas Lakoff and Johnson (1999:126) oppose the idea of metaphor involving similarity, Steen (2007:61-66) highlights that this kind of rejection is based on the assumption that such similarities were preexisting and substantial instead of structural. If we substitute such a concept of similarity by a constructionist one, Steen argues that in this case, the difference is only reflected in the surface of language or at the level of psychological processing but not at the level of conceptual structure. For Wegener the difference between comparison and metaphor also seems to be a question of processing and at the same time of habitualization and conventionalization so that he draws his attention to the moment of use. 

Observe that at this point of his argumentation it once again becomes evident that Wegener in fact thinks about two levels – a cognitive and a linguistic one – even though he does not explicitly broach the issue of this implication. It is obvious because the expressions he treats are different; moreover he explicitly talks about ‘groups’ when he refers to the cognitive level of source domains, which leads to a clear presumption of ‘metaphorical expression’ and ‘conceptual metaphor’.

Hülzer-Vogt (1987:60-106) constricts her attention to the fading process of metaphor in the approach of Wegener, as well as to the emphasis Wegener gives to the hearer: When the metaphor is still active, it develops its force by the exposition which instructs the hearer how to construct the imagetic of the metaphor in the course of the whole communicative situation. At this point of the theory, Wegener approaches the communicative context and stresses ‘suggestion’ and ‘sympathy’ as relevant elements for acting onto the behavior of the hearer by governing the process of signification because in the end, for Wegener, it is the imperative aspect which is predominant in any interaction by communication.

To conclude, when we look at the topics which seem to dominate current discussions in the field of cognitive metaphor theory, the study of Wegener has been shown as worth remembering, especially with regard to the integration of the situation and the context of communication. Such questions are elaborated in current approaches striving for, on the one hand, overcoming the static and artificiality of the idealized conceptual metaphor by substituting it by a more dynamic, discourse-oriented and communicative concept (Cameron, 2007, 2008b; Gibbs, 1999; Linz, 2002, 2004) and, on the other hand, realizing empirical studies in the field of cultural relativity (Fernandez, 1991; Kövecses, 2005; Schröder, 2009, 2010b, 2012b; Zinken, 2004;). By highlighting the fundamental importance of the hearer, Wegener accomplishes the extension of the monological basis of metaphor by defining it as starting from its communicative function and analyzing it as an implement used by a speaker to induce certain actions, emotions or thoughts from the hearer. Primarily, the metaphor conduces to the guidance of the cognitions of the hearer. 

4. Concluding remarks

If we take a look back to the nine hypotheses which, according to Jäkel, sum up the tenets of the CMT, in the case of Lambert and Wegener, we can conclude the following result:

 

Predessor

 

1.

UBI

2.

DOM

3.

MOD

4.

DIA

5.

UNI

6.

INV

7.
NEC

8.

CRE

9.

FOC

Lambert

(1764)

X

X

[X][39]

[X]

X

[X]

X

X

X

Wegener

(1885)

X

[X]

 

X

X

[X]

X

X

X

 

TABLE 1: Anticipation of the nine hypotheses of cognitive metaphor theory in the approaches of Lambert and Wegener

 

The fact that we opted for the presentation of these two approaches within a major panorama of researchers, who have already dedicated their studies to cognitive and everyday metaphor, is due to the merit of these two authors with respect to current questions entering the scenario of cognitive metaphor theory. The contributions of Lambert and Wegener have not only shown par excellence that both perspectives – a cognitive and functional, an epistemological and pragmatic, a extracommunicative and communicative one – have to be seen as complementary, but also that one perspective cannot be imagined without the other one. The Focusing Hypothesis (‘highlighting and hiding’),[40] also alluded to by Lakoff and Johnson (1980) but less explored, was revealed to be a key-element in both theories discussed above which binds together the two perspectives in question. While Lambert introduces the pragmatic view by his ‘Principle of Hermeneutic Approval’, Wegener brings his action-based pragmatic perspective into play by his concepts of ‘exposition’, ‘sympathy’ and ‘suggestion’. Thus, the communicative process is left intact for the hearer receiving an active role in the construction of meaning in correspondence to his own hypotheses about the world, the course of the current communication, and dependence on the activity in which she is inserted. In this way, the two authors go beyond the mere cognitive function of metaphor and modify it by carrying metaphor into the field of dynamic interaction.

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[1] Ungeheuer assumes that every human being experiences communication twice: a) as a communicator during the execution of communicative acts employed to achieve reciprocal understanding and b) as a (self)reflexive observer who tries to categorize and analyse the means of communication from an external point of view. The distinction between communicative and extracommunicative perspectives can be traced back, on the one hand, to the phenomenological philosophy, precisely, to the distinction between ‘ready-to-hand’ (Zuhandenes) and ‘present-at-hand’ (Vorhandenes), according to Heidegger (1927/1957) as well as to the polarity between ‘functioning’ (fungierend) and ‘thematizing’ (thematisierend), according to Husserl (1901/1921:261-265). On the other hand, Ungeheuer refers to the linguistic-psychological approach of Karl Bühler (1934/1982:58) who distinguishes between the study of speech action and speech acts as subject-related phenomena and the study of language work and language structure as phenomena independent of a subject by having intersubjective fixation. Cf. to the historical contextualization of the problem Kolb (2010).

[2] Während das Willkürliche mit einem extrakommunikativen Umgang mit den Sprachmitteln in der Systemanalyse korrespondiert, verweist das Hypothetische auf die kommunikative Handhabung “[…] auf die sprachlichen Kommunikationsakte und auf das darin enthaltene praktische Problem, wie gegenseitiges Verständnis und Übereinstimmung in Wortbedeutung und Redesinn zu erreichen sei.”

[3] Den Grund für die Vergleichung, die von der Metapher vollzogen wird, sieht Lambert (1764a/1965:483) in der “Aehnlichkeit des Eindruckes, den die Empfindungen äußerlicher Dinge und die Vorstellung abstracter und unsichtbarer Dinge in uns machen.”

[4] “Hingegen ist es schon längst eingeführt, daß wir das sichtbare mit dem unsichtbaren, die Körperwelt mit der Intellectualwelt, die Empfindungen mit den Gedanken vergleichen, und vor beyde einerley Wörter und Ausdrücke gebrauchen. Die Worte erhalten dadurch nothwendig eine doppelte und zuweilen auch vielfache Bedeutung. Ein Licht im Zimmer haben, und Licht in den Gedanken haben, sind solche Redensarten.”

[5] “die aus der Bezeichnungsweise des Wortes bezüglich der Körperwelt zu eruieren ist”

[6] Starting from a developmental perspective, Johnson refers to a first phase of acquisition of metaphorical reasoning during which a child establishes relations between co-active domains while experiencing the two fields as belonging to each other. When the mother responds to a nonverbal request of her daughter who points to a toy: “Ah, I can see what you want”, this sentence can be interpreted literally – the mother sees the desired object itself – or metaphorically as an utterance about the state of mind of the daughter: she understands what the daughter wants. The domains see and understand are simultaneously activated so that the primary scene comprises two sub-scenes: on the one hand, the physical act of perception, on the other hand, the change of consciousness. This experience marks the crucial step to the second phase of learning where the original use of the word is uncoupled from its original use obtaining now a merely metaphorical sense.

[7] “[die] Verrichtungen des Leibes”

[8] “[des] Verstandes”

[9] “[eine] Einbildungskraft”

[10] “[die] semantische Tektonik des Wortschatzes”

[11] “[der] Behebung eines Mangels”

[12]Lambert ist überzeugt, dass “jeder sich durch ganz individuale Reihen von Gedanken, den Weg zu neuen Metaphern bähnen kann.”

[13] “Der Notwendigkeit einer Bedeutungsvielfalt der Wörter, um neue Erkenntnisse in der Sprache erfassen und daraufhin vermitteln zu können, steht die Notwendigkeit einer Idealisierung der Bedeutungsstabilität von Wörtern gegenüber, um unter dieser Bedingung auf eine gelingende Verständigung vertrauen zu können.”

[14] ‘hermeneutische Billigkeit’

[15] das Prinzip ‘des Hypothetischen in der Sprache’

[16] Here we only refer to the Principle of Cooperation with its Conversational Maxims as a contribution and valuable introduction to a new focus directed to the coordination of activities between speaker and hearer, this aspect being absent in former pragmatic approaches. The starting-point for Grice are speakers and hearers acting in a rational matter by following principles assuring the success of communication. At the same time, this hypothesis marks a weak point in the theory because the influence of the conventions, the a priori of rationality and the generality of the socialization of the interlocutors receive an exaggerated importance. In Grice’s theory it is only in exceptional cases that the interlocutor relies on the communicative context, namely when he is not able to interpret an utterance according to its ‘normal’ meaning. As a consequence, the metaphor receives marginal space once it is seen as a mere implicature. By this view, Grice corroborates the separation between semantics and pragmatics as we will see in the following.

[17] Wegener adopted insights of the psychology of language fostered by Steinthal, under whom he studied, Lazarus, as well as Paul (cf. Nerlich & Clarke, 1996:177).

[18] Influentiation refers to the German term beeinflussen, whose meaning corresponds to ‘exerting influence about somebody’.

[19] ‘[die] Situation der Anschauung’

[20] ‘[die] Situation der Erinnerung’

[21] ‘[die] Situation des Bewusstseins’

[22] ‘[die] Cultursituation’

[23] Wegener ist davon überzeugt, dass erst aus unserer “Erfahrung die Erwartung einer bestimmten Weiterentwicklung des Geschehens resultiert und daraus das Schema, wie wir Handlungsfolgen glauben verknüpfen zu müssen.”

[24] “Und bevor die Sprache für das logische Subject abgeblasste Worte hatte, war sie unfähig, die Situation anders als durch Hinweis auf die Situation der Anschauung zu bezeichnen.”

[25] Paul himself integrated the ideas of Wegener in his second edition of his work Principles of the History of Language (Prinzipien der Sprachgeschichte, 1880/1995), especially the difference between ‘usual meaning’ (in the sense of conventionalized meaning) and ‘occasional meaning’ (in the sense of the meaning emerging from the context of use). It was through Karl Bühler that Wegener was not forgotten. In his famous opus Theory of Language (Sprachtheorie, 1934/1982), Bühler adopts some concepts from Wegener. Thus through Bühler the ideas of Wegener left their mark on British contextualism and functionalism (Malinoswski ð Gardner ð Firth ð Halliday).

[26] To a certain extent, such analogies that are understood by Kohl as extended metaphors frequent in specific discourse genres like political discourse, have a function similar to what Steen (2011) describes when he refers to ‘deliberate metaphors’ that confine the attention of the interlocutor to their own metaphoricity.

[27] “ich weise ein Anerbieten zurück”; the literal translation maintaining the metaphor would be: point back.

[28] “ich lehne etwas ab”, the literal translation maintaining the metaphor would be: put out.

[29] “ich räume ein”, the literal translation maintaining the metaphor would be: put in.

[30] “ich beschreibe das Haus mündlich”

[31]“den Punkt beiseite lassen”

[32] “auf dem Wege des Frevels”

[33] “auf den Bahnen der Sünde”

[34] Solche Ausdrücke betrachtet Wegener wie die Kognitive Semantik als Indiz dafür, “[…] dass feste Raummuster in unserem Inneren vorhanden sind, nach denen wir räumliche Mitteilung verstehen und dass wir ebenso Muster unserer Bewegung im Raume in unserer Seele tragen, aus denen wir Bewegungsmitteilungen ergänzen und so verstehen.”

[35] “Die Metapher beruht auf der Verbindung von Vorstellungsgruppen nach partieller Gleichheit.”

[36] in German, the word entbrennen is composed by the prefix ent- and the verb brennen, which means burn.

[37] The word ausbrechen originally also refers to fire.

[38] Wie Wegener formuliert, bedeutet dies, es werde “nur der von der Situation geforderte Sinn empfunden, die Vorstellungen, welche mit dem Worte entbrennen sonst verbunden werden, sind in dieser Verbindung total vergessen.”

[39] The brackets stand for ‘implicitly represented’.

[40] The metaphor highlights certain elements of its object and hides other ones.