SEMINAR COURSE 3 | Figurative Language Use, Pragmatics, and Cognition: Motivation, organization patterns, and usage constraints


Francisco Ruiz de Mendoza Ibáñez, University of La Rioja 


Figurative language results from the activity of cognitive operations on cognitive models (e.g. frames or image schemas). This kind of account allows us to find what is common to the different figures of speech. This has several beneficial consequences:

1) It allows us to find organization patterns that facilitate adequate categorization and greater definitional accuracy.

2) It counteracts the undesirable tendency to the over-proliferation of categories typical of traditional analyses in rhetoric and literary theory.

3) It simplifies linguistic description and explanation by making figures of speech part of a unified account of cognitively-motivated language use.

Finally, investigating figurative language in terms of embodied cognition requires studying how cognitive factors place constraints on its production. There are two kinds of constraining principles: (i) general, for all figures; and (ii) figure-specific. The two sets of principles interact thus allowing to determine the felicity or infelicity of a given figurative use of language.