The Structure of Categories and the Consequences for Metaphor
In what form is information organized and stored in the mind? This is the question of conceptual structure. It is a key question for the subdiscipline of cognitive psychology besides being of interest to workers in many other areas. In the last thirty years a great effort has been mounted toward answering this question. Today several models which purport to approximate the cognitive structure of concepts are being refined and are competing for acceptance. Perhaps the most popular approach is from the information processing viewpoint, founded upon the suggestion that the computer models human cognitive functioning in many basic respects. Within the information processing school are several models including some based on schema theory. Schematic models of conceptual structure rely heavily on the proper arrangement of a concept’s structures in networks such that the relationships between attributes can account for what we know about the concept and about cognitive functioning. Schematic models have been applied to many cognitive processes including linguistic ones. One such application, by Andrew Ortony (1979), has resulted in a descriptive model of metaphoric language. Ortony states that the structures and processes underlying metaphoric language are the same as those underlying literal language. If this is true, then a good way to test a model of the conceptual foundations of language is to try it out on metaphoric language, since a sound model must be able to account for both literal and nonliteral language. Ortony has provided some evidence that his model meets this criterion.
KeywordsCategory Structure Conceptual Structure Football Player Prototype Model Salient Attribute
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