May 05, 2005

Where's the Frame?

For Lakoff-lovers and science dorks alike, here's an interesting cognitive science paper (pdf) from Emory's Alan Cienki on the difficulty in figuring out how prevalent "framing" metaphors are in our political discourse. Here's a bit of the abstract:
Research in cognitive linguistics has shown how metaphorical expressions in language can reflect deep-seated ways of thinking about one domain interms of another. In his book Moral Politics, Lakoff (1996/2002) proposed two cognitive models [i.e. the "Strict Father" Republican and "Nurturant Mother" Democrat] involving sets of conceptual metaphors which he claims underlie (American) right- versus left-wing political rhetoric. In this paper, I will first summarize the findings of my research in which I coded the debates between George W. Bush and Al Gore in 2000 for the metaphors proposed by Lakoff. That research raised questions about the models, as the metaphors in them appeared rarely in the debates. Then I will propose a method for deducing generalizations over metaphorical expressions…
Very interesting! I've said it before, and it didn't go over well, but I'm generally skeptical of this whole "framing" craze. Not because I don't think it happens (insofar as it did happen, Gore really did do the Nurturant Parent thing, and Bush the Strict Father). Theoretically, it seems like a powerfully cognitive phenomenon, but in practice it seems framing is much less pervasive than we tend to think. Though I guess that's something that will be figured out and tallied up by linguistics researchers, and not amateur bloggers like me. Okay, well then, back to work.
-- Brad Plumer 3:14 PM || ||