ENG 417: Advanced Studies in Linguistics
and the English Language
 

Dr. Cote 3 credits

          In what way is it possible that one can “wrap one’s mind around” something? Why not the other way around? How did that expression arise, and what does it convey? Couldn’t we just say “understand?” This course explores the nature of metaphor and related phenomena (simile, metonymy, hyperbole, …), asking what makes them succeed -- or fail -- communicatively, what recurring patterns there are, how these phenomena are similar, and how they differ. We will also examine what these phenomena might say about the way members of a particular culture (or human beings in general) conceptualize the world, about the extent to which we have “literary minds” in which thoughts are inextricably “wrapped” in metaphors. We will consider both ‘creative’ or ‘new’ metaphors and so-called ‘dead’ metaphors, looking at contemporary (and to some extent historical) linguistic theories to compare the questions they are trying to answer and to gain tools for hands-on experience exploring metaphoric language. The course has no prerequisites, and we will cover some basic
terminology as needed, but it is also an advanced seminar. A prior course on the structure of English or another language (beyond applied intermediate skills), a prior course in linguistics, or an equivalent background could be helpful.
          This course will be of interest to those curious about language and its use, both in general and in ‘Literature’; those fascinated by the relationship between human language and human cognition; those interested in languages -- in how they differ and how they are the same; and those who enjoy language puzzles and/or finding interesting patterns in the language of a particular text, author, situation, etc.

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