Publication details [#10962]

Van de Walle, Jürgen and Fieke Van der Gucht. 2005. Review of: Marina Rakova, 'The Extent of the Literal. Metaphor, Polysemy and Theories of Concepts'. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003, 256 pp., ISBN: 1-4039-0233-x. Cognitive Linguistics 16 (4) : 733–7743.


'The Extent of the Literal' is Marina Rakova's first book and an expanded and improved version of her doctoral dissertation (University of Edinburgh). On the one hand, Rakova's book presents an alternative for-what she herself calls-"the standard assumption" (p. 3) in modern linguistics, namely that "for a large number of words ... only one meaning has to be considered as literal or basic, and all the other meanings have to be treated as its metaphorical extensions" (p. 3). This alternative Rakova labels the "no-polysemy view" according to which the meanings of certain types of adjectives map onto the same psychologically primitive concept (cf. p. 17). On the other hand, her study can be read as a continuation of the ongoing debate with the experientialist branch of cognitive semantics, more specifically with two of the founding fathers of this modern branch of linguistics: George Lakoff and Mark Johnson (cf. Johnson and Lakoff 2002; Murphy 1996, 1997). Their conception of cognitive metaphor, by many claimed revolutionary, Rakova considers to be "a natural continuation of the old tradition" (p. 23), i.e., of the standard assumption, and therefore cognitive semantics itself would not be "a radically new theory, but rather a step forward" (p. 23). By offering abundant empirical evidence (chapters 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8), Rakova attempts to strengthen her critique on Lakoff and Johnson who reproached her for providing an argument against the "embodied mind" hypothesis. (Jürgen Van de Walle and Fieke Van der Gucht)