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Lukes-NatureofEvidence

Lukes-NatureofEvidence

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Published by Dominik Lukes
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Published by: Dominik Lukes on Mar 07, 2007
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05/08/2014

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C
HAPTER 
E
IGHT
W
HAT
 
DOES
 
IT
 
MEAN
 
WHEN
 
TEXTS
REALLY
MEAN
 
SOMETHING
?: T
YPES
 
OF
 
EVIDENCE
 
FOR 
 
CONCEPTUAL
 
PATTERNS
 
IN
 
DISCOURSE
Dominik LukešUniversity of East Anglia
Abstract
The central argument of this paper is that discourse analysis must be conceptual before it can be critical. The construction of discourse is above all the constructionof a conceptual discourse space (cf. Fauconnier, Werth). This space is patterned byconceptual devices such as frames (cognitive models), folk theories, metaphors,metonymies, etc. described in the tradition of cognitive linguistics (Lakoff,Johnson, i. a.). While the recently popular blending theory provides a very alluringhypothesis for the kind of cognitive operations functioning on the conceptual patterns in discourse, a practicing discourse analyst is still mostly left to rely on her intuition limiting her to very small parts of the discourse under investigation rather than having a reliable method of identifying the underlying conceptual patterns. Sofar, relatively little work has been done in this direction. There have been attemptsto outline the types of textual representation or triggers for metaphor (Goatly,Steen, Semino, Heywood) but we have to go to the conversation analysis-inspiredframe analysis for a more detailed account (Tannen).This paper first outlines the kinds of conceptual devices and patterns that might be available for a critical treatment. These patterns are then linked to their potentialtextual representations. It is argued that a successful critical analysis of discourseneeds this manner of textual evidence to be able to determine the conceptual patterns underlying the texts it subjects to scrutiny. Only then can we start exposing“hidden” meanings to the possibility of contestation.
 
2Chapter Eight
Really meaning: On criticism and analysis
It is one of the topoi of introductions to linguistics that the study of language issomewhat peculiar in that it uses language to describe language. Thus the term of metalanguage is introduced as a very early concept.
1
 While the significance of thelanguage vs. metalanguage dichotomy can be easily overestimated, it is perhaps of more relevance to discourse analysis and, in particular, critically-orientateddiscourse analysis. The source of potential problems is two-fold. First, unlike insyntax or lexicology, discourse analysts engage with political meanings, andsources of potential bias are therefore amplified. Second, through their linguistic pedigree discourse analysts have a long tradition of positioning themselves inexpert roles, using the relative obscurity of linguistic analysis as a convenient pedestal from which to launch their critiques. In Critical Linguistics, this goes asfar back as Hodge and Kress’s [1978] use of the commuter as an example of arecipient more easily misled by transformations in text than a theory-equippedanalyst. This shortcoming was pointed out in one of the early reviews (Sharrock and Anderson, ), as well as recently, in much greater detail, by Widdowson ()
2
.Afurther complication a would be expert (or meta) discourse analyst has to contendwith is the fact that there is no shortage of willing folk-theoretical discourseanalysts. Indeed, it seems that the ability to analyze discourse is just as part of thegeneral language faculty as the ability to make predicates agree with subjects or vowels to come into harmony. Picking apart the various ways in which discoursecan be not what it seems or can be moulded into shapes it was not first intended totake is a commonplace linguistic activity which has so far eluded the attention of linguists and by and large conversation analysts, as well. What, then, does “expert”discourse analysis have to bring to the table that the folk-theoretical “picking upapart” does not?
3
It certainly, sets its bar high enough. Can it live up to its potential?An illustrative recent example of discourse analysis taking on the mantle of expertise is a definition of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) in an introductorytext. Locke () defines CDA as a discipline concerned with “social effects of the
meanings
a reader is being positioned or called upon to subscribe toandattempting through analysis of discourse seen as “language in use” to expose these‘hidden’ meanings to the possibility of “
contestation
”. [my emphasis]. However,the assumption that these meanings were previously “uncontestableis leftunquestioned. The discourse analyst, then, is implicitly positioned as someone whocan tell the non-expert “what they really mean”. But what does “really meaningsomething” entail? As the following three examples demonstrate, telling someonewhat they “really mean” is a rather common activity.
4
 
 
Types of Evidence for Conceptual Patterns in Discourse3
 I’m not 
a racist but…’
really means
 I am
a racist and…’.(Mark Steel, English comedian) [my emphasis]
In this case the “real meaning” is perceived to be the largely latent attitudes of thespeaker. However, the second example not only alludes to latent attitudes but alsoan explicit hidden agenda.
“This is bad news, as America keeps losing the race to other countries to attract the
world’s best and the brightest 
I think 
he really meant
:“This is bad news, as America keeps losing the race to other countries to attract the
world’s cheapest 
(Anonymous online comment) [my emphasis]
And assuming hidden “real” meanings is certainly not limited to comedians or  participants in online discussions. The following is taken out of George Lakoff’ssuggested pro-Democratic partisan manifesto.
Smaller government is, in conservative propaganda, supposed to eliminate waste. Itis really about eliminating social programs. (Lakoff, : 94)
All of these examples not only take a critical stance but also use conceptualintegration to allude to very explicit political positions. For instance, the racismquip could easily be rephrased as:
Many people only use non-racist language out of social convention. However, astheir statements clearly imply, their underlying attitude is one of non-tolerance andmuch closer to racism than is fashionable to admit.
Clearly, the power of the simple image blend, is lost but the propositional contentis by and large preserved. What could a discourse analyst add to this incisive, if  partial comment? Perhaps a heuristic for identifying elements of text that are goodcandidates for contestation. However, as all discourse analysts know (albeit some

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