Cognitive Linguistics is a dynamic and innovative branch of linguistics that seeks to elucidate the nature of human language as a communicative system integrated with the full range of human cognitive faculties. As a result, research in Cognitive Linguistics has progressed greatly through close attention to recent advances in psychology, philosophy, and cognitive science. Cognitive Linguistics holds that human language is structured by basic conceptual schemata that start from fundamental human experience and pervade all more abstract conceptual knowledge through general principles of metaphor. However, Cognitive Linguistics has turned a blind eye to the earlier accomplishments of Sigmund Freud and his followers in this program of research. This study is a first step in integrating the two approaches.
After a review of Lakoff’s theory of metaphor and its relation to conceptual domains in the work of Langacker and Croft, I will show that Freudianism is easily incorporated into this program of research both in content and in spirit through a Lakoffian approach. First, the metaphor Eros is Thanatos is shown to underlie such Lakoffian metaphors as Love is a Patient. The related metaphor Love is a Journey is then examined in detail, starting from Lakoff’s observation that “What is special about the Love is a Journey metaphor is that there are two lovers who are travelers and that the love relationship is a vehicle.” (Lakoff 1993). While Lakoff briefly mentioned the types of vehicles employed in expressions of this metaphor, he failed to follow up with a fuller discussion of the metaphor A Love Relationship is a Vehicle, which motivates a close consideration of the special cases of train locomotives, pink Cadillacs, and canoes, which in turn are related to the basic schema of Container and to obvious extensions in the emotional domain of such metaphors as Affection is Warmth and Anger is a Hot Fluid in a Container. Second, after a detailed study (modeled on Brugman and Lakoff’s analysis of over) of off focusing on its use in intransitive phrasal verbs, its usage is integrated with that of up through a process analysis as End-Point and Path, respectively; the latter figures in many basic Lakoffian metaphors that are shown to have profound Freudian significance, such as Joy is Up, Life is Up, and Control is Up. This leads to a discussion of Lakoff’s view of political metaphor, which has been dismissed by many as nothing more than crass partisan debasement of political discourse. Instead, it is shown that Lakoff’s equation of conservatives with the stern father and liberals with the loving mother and his strong animus towards the former must be seen instead as a manifestation of well-
The Lakoffian metaphor of Control is Up is then used to examine the work of Langacker and Croft. Particular attention is paid to the concept of the domain, a word originally referring to a region under the control of one lord, particularly in the terms domain structure and domain matrix, whose significance can be seen in the fact that a structure is erected and matrix originally referred to the womb; the very peculiar locution domain matrix is shown to be profoundly significant for understanding the basic thrust of Langacker and Croft’s approach to linguistics because of its close resemblance to the term dominatrix. Their distinction between autonomy and dependence is then shown through a close reading of their texts to be indebted metaphorically to Bacon’s adage that “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed,” and their use of the semantic frame on which knowledge of the world is hung is then related to the rack on which the lady Nature is interrogated in Bacon’s view of science. Finally, a close reading of the film The Matrix (an interlineal annotation of the entire script with detailed citations is provided in the Appendix) shows that much of its dialogue in fact constitutes a metaphorical statement of the basic principles of Cognitive Linguistics, but the plot is better understood as a Freudian dramatization of Lakoff’s view of politics using the metaphor Life is a Political Campaign: Life in the matrix, or womb, is ended through the red (that is, Republican) pill, which ejects the individual naked and shivering into a struggle for harsh survival, where the forces of humanity are led by characters dressed like dominatrices fighting against the jealous, angry father figure threatened by their very existence.
Cognitive Linguistics has been criticized for its reliance on speculative schemata underlying all human experience conceived in an orgy of introspection; as such, it might justly be considered the linguistic equivalent of Jungian psychology, with metaphor and metonymy in place of myth. However, it is only partisan squabbling and certainly not methodological differences that prevent its reconciliation with the thought of Freud, for the only difference between Jungianism and Freudianism, after all, is that Jungians stare at their navels, Freudians six inches lower. It is time for Cognitive Linguistics too to glance further down at the wellsprings of human creativity.
[This is a revised version of the abstract of the author’s dissertation, which was not accepted by his department on the grounds that they were interested in functional rather than dysfunctional linguistics. Speculative Grammarian agreed to publish this article in order to interest academic publishers in the full study after the author threatened to submit a revised and expanded version as a dissertation in women’s studies. So, please, won’t somebody take a bullet for the team? —Eds.]