Teodora Popescu (Editor). Cognitive approaches to contemporary media. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2021. Pp. i-xi, 1-210. ISBN: 978-1-5275-6953-9.
Reviewed by Raluca Krisbai, 1 Decembrie 1918 University of Alba Iulia
The book entitled Cognitive approaches to contemporary media offers a valuable insight into modern developments in cognitive linguistics, which can contribute to the advancement of both research and practice in the field.
The purpose of this edited volume is to deliver fresh insights into the metaphorical language used in the current media from a cognitive-linguistic perspective. Considering the manipulative framings of reality in which mass media can engage at present, investigations into how figurative language functions may be valuable in order to instruct audiences and to improve their decoding skills to prevent deception and bias. The overall research methodology draws on well-established approaches to the analysis of metaphors, such as Pragglejaz method (2007), the MIPVU technique (2010), the critical metaphor analysis framework (Charteris-Black 2004) and multimodal metaphor analysis theory (Forceville 2009). Both quantitative and qualitative analyses of corpora were conducted, as well as word frequency and concordance searches using AntCoc and ConcAppor #LancsBox software.
The book is a compilation of ten contributions by Romanian researchers in the field of cognitive linguistics, and is structured into three main parts.
Part One consists of three chapters that focus on the metaphors that are used in business journalese. The chapter by Crina-Maria Herțeg, ‘The conceptualisation of the market in English and Romanian. A corpus-based approach’, focuses on market metaphors in English and Romanian that were obtained from two sizeable corpora of Romanian and British journalese, each consisting of around 600,000 words, and representing business articles that were amassed during the period between 2012 and 2016. Herțeg conducted a corpus-based contrastive investigation to underline the similarities and differences in the ways in which the market is conceptualised in both the Romanian and the English languages. The author explores lexical, semantic and cultural differences, as well as intersecting cognitive categories, and compares and contrasts a series of conceptual metaphors, such as Labour market is war and Labour market is competition. Further subcategories of market is a living organism, such as the Market is an animal metaphors, were identified in various instances of bear and bull markets.
Chapter Two, authored by Andra Ursa and entitled ‘A comparative study of business metaphors in English, French and Romanian economic discourse in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic’ presents a comparative inquiry into newspaper articles in three European languages that were published during July 2020, all focusing on economic issues of wider interest. The chapter investigates the conceptual metaphors employed in the media discourse to help readers to comprehend different facets related to the workings of their national economies. The author conducted both automatic (using AntConc software) and manual analyses to identify and catalogue the metaphors. The results revealed that the three economies under investigation were typically conceptualised in terms of war, objects, human beings or organisms, with a high recurrence of the metaphor economy is a sick person, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ursa revealed that there appeared to be a tendency towards metaphorical expressions indicating that the economy was in a state of war in both the French and the British corpora, which was encountered less frequently in the Romanian articles.
The third chapter, ‘Conceptualisations of economic relations between the US and China’ by Andra Corpade, presents how economic relationships amongst countries are envisioned in the written media. The most important cognitive categories that the author noted were Competition is a race, Companies are instruments of domination, Competition is war, Organisations are people/thinking entities and Countries are people. Of these, the most frequent pertained to competition is war, as the author found a wide range of exponents included in the semantic field of war.
The second part of the book consists of three chapters grouped according to the subject matter of health and illness in metaphorical concepts within the specific context of the new coronavirus. Teodora Popescu’s chapter, ‘Waging war against COVID-19. A case study of Romanian metaphorical conceptualisations of the novel coronavirus’, delves into cognitive metaphors pertaining to the coronavirus, as determined using a corpus of almost 67,000 words from the Romanian nation-wide broadsheet Adevărul (‘The Truth’), which was compiled during the period from September to October 2020. The most important categories identified were Fighting Covid-19 is fighting a war, Covid-19 is a murderer, Covid-19 is collective suffering, Lack of disease treatment/restrictions observance is lack of control, Lockdown is detention, Lockdown is depression and COVID-19 is a sham. Recurrent instances of emotional conceptualisations of the pandemic were identified, including Emotional state is harm caused by predatory animals, which alludes to people’s all-encompassing dissatisfaction generated by the lockdown, accounting for the generalised discontent and frustration in Romanian society, coupled with deep scepticism with regard to the medical system and political rulers.
Chapter Five, entitled ‘Conceptual metaphors in medical journalese’ by Oana-Elena Stoica, emphasises the function of conceptual metaphors in medical communication, specifically in the mass media, and considers how they are used with a view to having maximum impact on the reader. The author identified the following categories: Treating illness is fighting a war, Diseases and viruses are enemies, Food additives are enemies, A problem is a body of water, The human body is a friend, The human body is a machine, Long-term purposeful change is a journey and A healthy lifestyle is a friend. Stoica maintained that medical language can be somewhat vague and abstract, as well as relatively difficult to comprehend; consequently, metaphors can contribute greatly to clarifying or mitigating distressing issues for readers.
The sixth chapter, Adela Natalia Neciu’s ‘The healthcare system is a body. A case study of metaphorical conceptualisations – the case of Sweden’, scrutinises the metaphorical conceptualisations derived from a progress report on the implementation of the principles of value-based healthcare (VBHC) in Sweden, as documented by health economists, healthcare providers and policymakers. Neciu identified 11 categories, namely systems are buildings, problems are enemies/dealing with a problem is fighting a war, countries are people, ideas are objects, information is money, systems are persons/people, organisations are people/thinking entities, laws are containers, information is a moving object, information is a substance and buildings are people.
The chapter by Gabriela-Corina Șanta (Câmpean), ‘Covid-19 in journalese. A case study of health, lifestyle, and political agenda domains’, examines the impact of COVID-19 on a number of domains in daily life: political agenda, economy, health, education and lifestyle. The network of multidirectional relationships presented by the author are characteristic of the state of affairs that we have witnessed. Șanta concludes by explaining that institutions, companies and countries across the world are perceived as being endowed with human features. Furthermore, all the concepts except education were assigned human characteristics; hence, they could be mapped according to their interconnectedness. She further asserted that political leaders have determined finding appropriate mechanisms for putting an end to the virus that has affected all areas of our lives to be a priority.
Part Three consists of three contributions addressing multimodal metaphors in films. The eighth chapter, written by Diana Emanuela Tîrnăvean and entitled ‘Metaphors in fiction films. A discourse analysis of “Before I Wake”’ presents an investigation of the verbal, pictorial and gestural metaphors that contribute to creating the identity of the central characters and which chart the central hero’s evolutionary journey via the compelling metaphor of change. This transformation is artfully embodied throughout the film as we witness the transitional life phases of a butterfly. On one hand, Tîrnăvean aims to detect, interpret and decipher the pictorial, gestural and verbo-visual metaphors; on the other, she conducts an exploration of the hero’s quest, which is that of becoming a mother to the orphaned Cody.
Chapter Nine, ‘Myth and metaphor in “The Matrix” trilogy’ by Adina Botaș, presents an inquiry into the multimodal metaphors pertaining to the central character, Neo, which can be found in this trilogy. Botaș focuses on three major myths that can be traced in the films’ narratives, namely Alice’s Wonderland, the Bible archetype and the myth of conspiracy. Accordingly, the multimodal metaphors investigated in the study materialised as concurrent expressions of diverse maximally consistent metaphors. The author explains that mappable traits are indicative of various metaphor scenarios, such as Neo is the Saviour and Neo is Alice in Wonderland from the vantage points of both the theological myth (references to the passion of Jesus Christ) and the conspiracy myth (correlations with an occult society working against humankind).
Chapter Ten, authored by Bianca Moisi and entitled ‘The multimodal metaphor in film: A case study of “The Shack”’, provides an analysis of how cinematography exploits metaphors, beginning with the assumption that the development of metaphorical language is concurrent with the development of human thought processes. Moreover, Moisi explores metaphors that are representative of the postmodern individual; that is, those that are shaped by individuals’ intrinsic awareness of gender, emotion, religion and their very existence. Moisi identifies various conceptual categories, such as states are containers (with the subcatrgory the human heart is a building/physical construction), anger is a ravaged place, depression is a person, positive experience is light/warmth (and subsequently, negative experience is darkness/coldness), positive experience is spring (and accordingly, god is a woman/god is a mother, negative experience is winter) and love is a bond/love is a unity of parts, amongst others. Moisi ultimately demonstrates the evolution of metaphor from the classical perspective to a postmodern understanding, which revisits and reinvents ancient myths via the use of cinematography.
In conclusion, the edited collection Cognitive approaches to contemporary media provides a novel perspective on the metaphorical language that is used in present-day society’s mass media, and will be a valuable contribution to the field as it is both informative and captivating for the general audience and specialists alike.
Charteris-Black, J. (2004). Corpus Approaches to Critical Metaphor Analysis. Basingstoke: Palgrave-MacMillan.
Forceville, C., & Urios-Aparisi, E. (Eds.) (2009). Multimodal Metaphor. Berlin, New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
Pragglejaz Group. (2007). MIP: A method for identifying metaphorically used words in discourse. Metaphor and Symbol, 22(1), 1-39.
How to cite this review: Krisbai, R. (2021). Teodora Popescu (Editor). Cognitive approaches to contemporary media. New Castle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2021. Pp. i-xi, 1-210. ISBN: 978-1-5275-6953-9. Journal of Linguistic and Intercultural Education – JoLIE, 14(2), 187-190. doi: https://doi.org/10.29302/jolie.2021.14.2.11
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