Articles and Chapters

Cognitive Linguistic Approach to CDA | Argumentation and Adapted Cognition


Cognitive Linguistic Approach to CDA


Hart, C. (submitted).  Viewpoint in linguistic discourse: Space and evaluation in news reports of political protests.

This paper continues to develop a program of research which has recently emerged investigating the ideological functions of spatial construals in social and political discourse from a Cognitive Linguistic perspective (Cap 2013; Chilton 2004; Dunmire 2011; Filardo Llamas 2013; Hart 2013a/b, 2014a; Kaal 2012).  Specifically, inspired by principles in Cognitive Grammar (Langacker 2008), the paper attempts to formulate a grammar of ‘point of view’ and show how this trans-modal cognitive system is manifested in the meanings of individual grammatical constructions which, when selected in discourse, yield mental representations whose spatial properties invite ideological evaluations.  The link between spatial organisation and ideological evaluation in these mental models, it is argued, is a function of our embodied understanding of language.  These theoretical arguments are illustrated with data taken from online news reports of two political protests.

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Hart, C. (2014).  Construal operations in online press reports of political protests.  In C. Hart and P. Cap (eds.), Contemporary Critical Discourse Studies.  London: Bloomsbury.

One of the most successful new ‘schools’ or ‘approaches’ in CDS is represented by a body of work applying insights from Cognitive Linguistics (Chilton 2004; Dirven, Frank and Putz 2003; Hart 2010, 2011a; Hart and Lukeš 2007).  This body of work includes but is not limited to Critical Metaphor Analysis (e.g. Charteris-Black 2004; Koller 2004; Musolff 2004).  At the theoretical core of this ‘Cognitive Linguistic Approach’ (CLA) are the notions of conceptualisation and construal.  Conceptualisation is the dynamic cognitive process involved in meaning-making as discourse unfolds.  This process entails language connecting with background knowledge and global cognitive abilities to yield local mental representations.  To the extent that the CLA focuses on the relation between discourse and conceptualisation, it addresses the cognitive import of (ideologically imbued) linguistic representations (cf. Stubbs 1997: 106).  Construal refers to the different ways in which a given scene, guided by language, can be conceptualised.   Alternative ‘construal operations’ are reliant on different cross-domain cognitive systems and realise different (ideological) discursive strategies.  In this chapter, I discuss some of the specific construal operations which, invoked in the audience, are the locus proper of ideological reproduction in discourse.  I do so in the context of two contrasting online news texts reporting on the G20 protests in London, 2009.

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Hart, C. (forthcoming). Discourse.  In E. Dabrowska and D. Divjek (eds.), Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics.  Berlin: Mouton De Gruyter.

In this chapter, I focus on discourse, understood as language in practice.  I focus specifically on language in social and political practices to show how discourse can, through the patterns of conceptualisation it invokes, function ideologically.  In doing so, I survey the most recent developments at the intersection between Cognitive Linguistics and Critical Discourse Analysis.  This synergy represents both a ‘social’, or more specifically a ‘critical’, turn in Cognitive Linguistics as well as a ‘cognitive’ turn in Critical Discourse Analysis, which has traditionally adopted more social science based methodologies.  Such has been the success of Cognitive Linguistics in Critical Discourse Analysis, however, that this synergy now constitutes one of the most productive and pervasive methodological approaches to ideological research.  Below, then, I only briefly state the case for and consider the consonance of this now well established alliance.  The reciprocal benefits that collaboration between these two disciplines brings and the extent to which they make for (un)easy bedfellows has been carefully assessed by Stockwell (1999) and later recapitulated in several works (including Dirven et al. 2007; Hart 2010; Koller, 2014; Nuñez-Perucha 2011).  The focus of this chapter will therefore be on the different Cognitive Linguistic tools which have been developed and deployed in Critical Discourse Analysis over the last decade.  Rather than chronologically chart the development of this field, however, I offer an overview of the landscape from a contemporary vantage point which brings together several analytical apparatus inside a single, integrated framework.

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Hart, C. (2013).  Constructing contexts through grammar: Cognitive models and conceptualisation in British Newspaper reports of political protests.  In J. Flowerdew (ed.), Discourse and Contexts.  London: Continuum.  pp. 159-184.

In this chapter, I analyse, from the perspective of the Cognitive Linguistic Approach to CDA, representations of political protests in British newspapers and the cognitive models that these representations reflect and (re)construct in the minds of readers.  The analysis focuses on the alternative image schemas which are available to construe protest events and how patterns of construal might index wider ideological discourses.  A comparative analysis is undertaken of online press reports of violence in the UK student fees protests on the 10 and 24 of November 2010.

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Hart, C. (2013).  Event-construal in press reports of violence in political protests: A Cognitive Linguistic Approach to CDA.  Journal of Language and Politics 12 (3): 400-423.

In this paper I extend the scope of the Cognitive Linguistic Approach to Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) by incorporating Langacker’s model of Cognitive Grammar in a critical analysis of press reports of violence in two political protests.  In doing so, I address issues recently raised against CDA concerning cognitive equivalence.  The paper presents an analysis of the alternative conceptualisations of violence invoked in online reports from The Telegraph vs. The Guardian of two recent political protests.  Systematic differences in construal are found across several parameters of conceptualisation, including schematization and various ‘focal adjustments’, which, it is suggested, represent potential sites of ideological reproduction.

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Hart, C. (2011). Moving beyond metaphor in the Cognitive Linguistic Approach to CDA: Construal operations in immigration discourse.  In C. Hart (ed.), Critical Discourse Studies in Context and Cognition.  Amsterdam: John Benjamins.  pp. 171-192.

Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) and Cognitive Linguistics were established at around the same time with the publications of Language and Control (Fowler et al. 1979) and  Metaphors We Live By (Lakoff and Johnson 1980). They developed in quite different academic contexts, though, and until relatively recently did not come into contact.  In the last few years, however, a highly productive space has been created for Cognitive Linguistics inside CDA (Charteris-Black 2004, 2006a/b; Koller 2004, 2005; Musolff 2004, 2006).  So far, this space has been reserved almost exclusively for Critical Metaphor Analysis where Lakoff and Johnson’s (1980) Conceptual Metaphor Theory has provided the lens through which otherwise naturalised or opaque ideological patterns could be detected in language and thought.  But Cognitive Linguistics, like CDA, is not a single discipline.  It is, rather, a perspective on a range of linguistic phenomena.  Its potential efficacy for CDA may therefore extend beyond Conceptual Metaphor Theory.  The purpose of this chapter is to highlight (i) the place of Cognitive Linguistics in CDA and (ii) that Cognitive Linguistics can be incorporated into CDA to disclose various ideological dimensions of text and conceptualisation including but without being limited to metaphor.

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Hart, C. (2011). Force-interactive patterns in immigration discourse: A Cognitive Linguistic approach to CDA.  Discourse & Society 22 (3): 269-286.

In the last few years a highly productive space has been created for Cognitive Linguistics inside Critical Discourse Analysis.  So far, however, this space has been reserved almost exclusively for critical metaphor studies where Lakoff and Johnson’s (1980) Conceptual Metaphor Theory has provided the lens through which otherwise naturalised or opaque ideological patterns in text and conceptualisation can be detected.  Yet Cognitive Linguistics consists of much more than Conceptual Metaphor Theory.  Its efficacy for Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) may therefore extend beyond critical metaphor studies.  In this paper, I propose that Talmy’s (1988, 2000) theory of force-dynamics in particular represents a further, useful framework for the Cognitive Linguistic Approach to CDA.  Using this analytical framework, then, I identify some of the indicators of, and demonstrate the ideological qualities of, force-dynamic conceptualisations in immigration discourse.

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Hart, C. (2008). Critical discourse analysis and metaphor: Toward a theoretical framework.  Critical Discourse Studies 5 (2): 91-106.

Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) explores the role of discourse structures in constituting social inequality. Metaphorical structure, however, has received relatively little attention in explicit CDA. The paper aims to redress this by developing a coherent theoretical framework for CDA and metaphor. This framework adopts conceptual blending theory over conceptual metaphor theory, where the latter is perceived to be incompatible with CDA. The framework is applied in a CDA of metaphors for nation and immigration in the British National Party’s 2005 general election manifesto.

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Hart, C. (2008). Critical discourse analysis and conceptualisation: Mental spaces, blended spaces and discourse spaces in the British National Party. In C. Hart and D. Lukes (eds.), Cognitive Linguistics in Critical Discourse Analysis: Application and Theory. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. pp. 107-31.


Argumentation and Adapted Cognition


Oswald, S. and C. Hart (2014).  Trust based on bias: Cognitive constraints on source-related fallacies.  In D. Mohammed & M. Lewiński (eds.), Virtues of Argumentation. Proceedings of the 10th International Conference of the Ontario
Society for the Study of Argumentation (OSSA). Windsor, ON: OSSA, pp. 1-13.

This paper advances a cognitive account of the rhetorical effectiveness of fallacious arguments and takes the example of source-related fallacies. Drawing on cognitive psychology and evolutionary linguistics, we claim that a fallacy enforces accessibility and epistemic cognitive constraints on argument processing targeted at preventing the addressee from spotting its fallaciousness, by managing to prevent or circumvent critical reactions. We address the evolutionary bases of biases and the way that these are exploited in fallacious argumentation.

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Hart, C. (2013). Argumentation meets adapted cognition: Manipulation in media discourse on immigration.  Journal of Pragmatics 59: 200-209.  

Critical discourse analysis has focussed extensively on argumentation in anti-immigration discourse where a specific suite of argumentation strategies has been identified as constitutive of the discourse.  The successful perlocutionary effects of these arguments are analysed as products of pragmatic processes based on ‘common-sense’ reasoning schemes known as topoi.  In this paper, I offer an alternative explanation grounded in cognitive-evolutionary psychology.  Specifically, it is shown that a number of argumentation schemes identified as recurrent in anti-immigration discourse relate to two cognitive mechanisms proposed in evolutionary psychology: the cheater detection and avoidance mechanism (Cosmides 1989) and epistemic vigilance (Sperber et al. 2010).  It is further suggested that the potential perlocutionary effects of argument acts in anti-immigration discourse, in achieving sanction for discriminatory practices, may arise not as the product of intentional-inferential processes but as a function of cognitive heuristics and biases provided by these mechanisms.  The impact of such arguments may therefore be best characterised in terms of manipulation rather than persuasion.

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Hart, C. (2011). Legitimising assertions and the logico-rhetorical module: Evidence and epistemic vigilance in media discourse on immigrationDiscourse Studies 13 (6): 751-769.

Critical Discourse Analysis has recently begun to consider the implications of research in Evolutionary Psychology for political communication.  At least three positions have been taken:  (i) that this research requires Critical Discourse Analysis to re-examine and defend some of its foundational assumptions (Chilton 2005); (ii) that this research provides a useful explanatory framework for Critical Discourse Analysis in which questions can be addressed why might speakers pursue particular discursive strategies and why they might be so persuasive (Hart 2010);  and (iii) that findings bare little or no relevance for Critical Discourse Analysis (Wodak 2006).  In this paper, I take up the first two of these positions and in doing so, of course, implicitly disagree with the third.  I consider the positions in (i) and (ii), then, specifically in relation to Sperber’s (2000, 2001) notion of a ‘logico-rhetorical’ module.   Taking the argument which Chilton makes concerning this module one stage further, I suggest that the logico-rhetorical module evolved as much for persuasion as it did for vigilance.  I further suggest that the semantic category of evidentiality operationalised in media discourse is intended to satisfy the conditions of acceptance laid down by the logico-rhetorical module.  I show how this semantic category therefore performs a legitimising function in media discourse on immigration.

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