Category Archives: Conceptual Blending

I was featured in a financial blog giving insight into financial crisis language

Last week I was featured in a column on the investment blog with some comments about financial crisis language like “crash” and “stagflation”.

Check out the feature here.

Like I have said before, linguistics has a lot to offer to other disciplines, hopefully we can continue to work our way into those disciplines and continue to create market value for our skill sets.  It just takes people realizing that cognition and language can be systematically applied to real world situations; which for linguists is already a no-brainer.

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Motion Imagery & The Glitch Mob

I love this image from the cover of The Glitch Mob’s We Can Make the World Stop:

People occasionally describe winding canyons as if they were snakes, and this image makes that language explicit by showing a snake winding through the canyon.  We know that canyons do not wind (at least, not in the sense that the language implies), usually it is the river that created the canyon that did the winding as it formed the canyon over time.  But, when this information gets applied to the canyon we can say that this is fictive motion, the canyon is fictively moving, fictively winding.

When The Glitch Mob translate this idea into the clear visual imagery of this cover art, it forces the obvious in a way that makes it compelling to look at.  I think this is because it is a conceptual blend in which there is an input space of CANYON and another input space of SNAKE.  The blended space is the scene of the snake body in the canyon.  Usually in a conceptual blend some of the structure from the input spaces gets left out through the process of compression, but in this case, it appears that there is no compression, but rather a full specification of the input spaces in the blended space.  I think this is a bypassing of compression, and I think that it makes the SNAKE represent the trajector of the motion, so by eliminating compression, what is normally construed as fictive motion has to be thought of as veridical motion; the SNAKE is moving, not the vacuous space of the canyon.

Does the movement of the snake imply causality? In other words, is the snake causing the winding of the canyon?

Does the movement of the snake imply opportunistic movement? In other words, is the snake moving in the canyon because the canyon is a CONDUIT in the conceptual metaphor sense?

Like I said in the first paragraph, except for cases where people are discussing rivers, people normally ascribe the motion to the canyon.  Canyon is thus conceived of as the substance moving through the CONDUIT. However, in this case, the snake is the substance moving through the conduit, and the snake is factively in motion.  This stagnates the fictive motion reading of this imagery, and replaces it with a blend that exploits a conceptual metaphor.  Amazing.

(image courtesy of The Glitch Mob press kit)

How Inception Helps Me Edit Papers

Inception: Alternative Poster

When I am writing a paper that has a page limit I use the first draft to make sure that I have a complete thought, I do not worry about exceeding the page limit.

For the first round of editing I read through the entire paper once. I then reread the paper section by section.

I open a new document for sections which I want to edit and conduct all of my editing in the new window so that I can preserve the original thought while I carve up its copy.

During that new window editing, I will then take paragraphs from the section and open new windows for each of them before using the cut copy paste “kick” to move it back through the layers of the document.

When I make it back to the original layer, what I am left with is a concise, coherent, and consistent paper. In a way, for each paragraph I have gone three layers deep to plant my idea.

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Stone Soup, Bouillon Cubes, and Innovation

In my childhood I think it was the fable about Stone Soup that made me start to think about innovation.  As I learned to cook and came further into the world of soup-lore I realized that good soups rely on a reduction of some sort, some kind of richly delicious liquid broth.  In the food world reducing things to something rich and dense is worthy of gustatorial praise.  A brief tour of cookery terms reveal that we have many aspirations to reductions (I am thinking about words like reduction, concentration, syrup, et cetera) and our food science inventions reveal something similar: the bouillon cube.  I think beyond a soup stock, the bouillon cube is the pinnacle achievement of reduction.  It is an abstraction of flavor from the specificity of the ingredients.  But anyway, getting to the point, I don’t like to use bouillon cubes; instead, I make my own soup stocks from scratch in much the same manner as the man who first made stone soup.

For a while now I have been finding myself throwing my vegetable scraps in the freezer so that I can use them to make soup stocks from scratch.  I have recently started cycling through the process on a weekly basis.  Take a look at this week’s table-scraps: Continue reading

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Reflexivity and Recursion in Soulwax’s “Part of the Weekend Never Dies”

Cover of "Nite Versions"

Cover of Nite Versions

Since I am posting a lot about Soulwax this month, I thought I should include this clarifying snippet about the differences between the various acts which the Dewaele brothers lead.  In “Part of the Weekend Never Dies” Stephen explains these acts to a Mexican female presenter who is interviewing him about the show:

[00:03:50] Presenter: “First of all, what’s the, can you tell the audience like what’s the difference between 2ManyDJs, Soulwax, or Radio Soulwax?” Continue reading

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Why I Believe in Cut & Paste as a Design Strategy


Image via Wikipedia

Cut & Paste is not just a keyboard function.  In fact, R.G. Collingwood coined the term in the mid 1940’s in his book The Idea of History, but being a more formal speaker of a more formal ancestor of colloquial English he called it the “scissors and paste” method and was critical of it as a tool in historical method (33, Collingwood: 1946).

Nonetheless he did use the term and since then it has come to be used rather frequently as a tool in questionable secondary research, or as a way to validate and situate a claim in a historical context.  I think Collingwood’s problem with scissors and paste was that it was just a patchwork manipulation of existing work by people who were not historical eyewitnesses, and therefore outside of the bounds of science.  In essence, what was cut out and pasted lacked appropriate context and proper lineage, in fact, that has become a problem: it is called plagiarism. Continue reading

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What I got for Christmas…

Integrantes de Daft Punk, banda francesa de mú...

Image via Wikipedia

  1. Daft Punk’s film “Electroma”
  2. Daft Punk’s album “Human After All”
  3. Gilles Fauconnier’s & Mark Turner’s “The Way We Think: Conceptual Blending and the Mind’s Hidden Complexities”
  4. Stephen C. Levinson’s “Space in Language and Cognition: Explorations in Cognitive Diversity”
  5. Stephen C. Levinson & David Wilkin’s “Grammars of Space: Explorations in Cognitive Diversity”


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Una chiste para ti….

Pollitos de colores!!

Image by YoSeLiN via Flickr

Una dia el pollito va a la casa blanca y toca la puerta

hay una persona abre la puerta y dice: “¿que queirres?”

y el pollito respondon, “necesito hablar con el presidente por favor”

y la persona que abre la puerta dice “el presidente no esta aqui, seran en Ohio”

y el pollito respondon “¿esta enojado? ¿con migo?”

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My Analysis of the Blend in “My Karma Ran Over My Dogma”

So I wanted to share my analysis of a blend that occurs on a bumper sticker.  This is a past homework assignment of mine, so keep that in mind as you read it. Anyway, it is not a complete blending analysis, but it was sufficient to cover the basics.  Enjoy.

Continue reading

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