Semantic Structures by Ray Jackendoff (Conceptual Semantics, Argument Structure & Thematic Roles)
How does a person percieve concepts, thoughts and ideas and what role does language play in this process ? Is there a formal language by which we can understand or represent these concepts, both inside the brain and outside the brain ? Jackendoff tries to answer these questions by creating a conceptual structure for semantic analysis that he calls Conceptual Semantics.
The Measurement Of Meaning by Charles E. Osgood, George J. Suci, Percy H. Tannenbaum (The Dimensionality of Semantic Space)
The chapter deals with various factor analysis studies in the meaningful judgment of a multidimensional exploratory task. It tries to determine the primary dimensions of the semantic space by considering three main sources of variability - subjects, scales and concepts judged and thus obtain a factor which accounts for the variance in meaningful judgment. The generality of this structure is ascertained as the various studies span over varied subject populations, varied concepts judged, varied methods of collecting data and varied factoring methods used in treating the data but the same primary factors keep repeating despite these modifications. Three Analysis methods were detailed by the authors:
The authors also go on to briefing a few other studies aimed directly at the factorial structure inherent ina group of adjectival scales like Judgments of sonar signals by Sonar Operators, Judgment of representational paintings by non-artists.
This study reveals that semantic space is a multidimensional space and all the dimensions are not equally important in mediating judgment. If meanings vary multidimensionally then any adequate measuring instrument must encompass this fact. The relative importance of various dimensions (evaluative > potency or activity > others)of a semantic space, represents the human thinking in terms of the relative use of these dimensions in meaningful discrimination.
Metaphors We Live By by George Lakoff & Mark Johnson
This chapter is in itself a Metaphorology - the study and usage of metaphors as a thinking tool as well as an instrument for slowly tranforming our thought process. Metaphor is commonly considered as a rhetorical device of poets and is used for making thoughts more vivid and imaginative - a matter of extraordinary rather than ordinary language. But people use metaphors in daily literal sense and that not only effects the way they communicate ideas but it also implicitly structures their perceptions and actions. The authors suggest that metaphors are pervasive in everyday life, and are not just matters of language but also help shape our thought, reasoning and action. They say that Metaphor is a fundamental mechanism of mind, one that allows us to use what we know about our physical and social experience to provide understanding of numerous other abstract domains.After demonstrating the pervasiveness of metaphor, the second contribution of the authors is in showing a small number of highly productive metaphor schema that underly much of language understanding. Such schemata are motivated, but not predicted. It is easy to see why 'less is down' is a better metaphor than 'less is up', but one still has to learn which of the many reasonable metaphors are actually used within a culture. Once the metaphor schema is learned, it is easy to generate new instances of it. The theory of metaphor also says that metaphors arise from objective similarity. Thus, we can speak of `digesting an idea' because the mental action of attending to the expression of an idea, reasoning about it, and coming to understand it is objectively similar to the physical action of ingesting food, breaking it into nutrients, and absorbing them into the system. The authors argue against the idea of a priori objective similarity. They claim metaphors do not just point out similarities that are objectively true, they create the similarities.
They also state how a new metaphor to an existing concept can change its meaning. If a new metaphor enters the conceptual system and we base our actions on it, then it will alter that conceptual system and the perceptions and hence the actions that follow. Words do not alter reality, but they do alter our perception of the world and hence the actions which are based upon those perceptions.
They explain an experientialist synthesis which states that Metaphor is imaginative rationlity i.e it unites reason and imagination. This approach allows to bridge the gap between the objectivist and the subjectivis myths about imapartiality and the possiblity of being fair. Truth is relative to ones understanding of a particular concept which is governed by the metaphors we associate with the concept. And the meaning of a Metaphor for an individual is partially culturally defined and partially has been built by past experiences. Thus Metaphors play a central role in the construction of social and political reality.
Apart from jargons, Experts (photographers in my project context) have also created metaphors for existing processes to make them more gestural, understandable, natural, and communicable. The Jargons and Metaphors formate a new language through which experts comminicate with each other and also nurturing the culture of their field. Since the metaphors help symobilize the processes, they are important identifiers for objectifying something onto the screen - either an action, or a state, or an object.