Zoltan Kövecses
Language, Mind and Culture
A Practical Introduction
Oxford University Press 2006


pg. 63 Frames: Organizing knowledge about the world
So far we have taken concepts to be lists of features. In other words, we have assumed that categories can be adequately described as feature lists. Such feature lists represent what we know about concepts.
But the question is: Do feature lists represent all the contents of concepts at our disposal? The answer is clearly no. We possess a great deal more knowledge about concepts than what feature lists can reveal. Frames are representations of this large amount of underlying knowledge. As a matter of fact, we can think of frames as including feature lists as well - feature lists that serve the representation of just the "tip" of conceptual "ice berg" associated with a particular domain of experience.

pg. 64: A frame is a structured mental representation of a conceptual category. The notion of "frame" is typically reserved for cases of mental representations that cannot be given as feature lists; a more comprehensive name for structured representations of conceptual categories in general, including feature lists and frames proper, would be cognitive model.
Roughly the same idea of what a frame is has been called by a variety of different names in the vast literature on the subject: script, scenario, scene, cultural model, cognitive model, idealised cognitive model, domain, schema, experiential gestalt.They all designate a coherent organisation of human experience.

In the classical approach, meaning is given in terms of necessary or sufficient conditions. From the perspective of
an experientialist cognitive science, meaning is defined by frames.

An important property of frames is that they are idealised in several ways. One of them is that, what the frame defines does not actually exist in the world.
Concept "Friday": There are no seven-day weeks in nature. In nature we only find the alternation of light and darkness. To capture this aspect of frames, Lakoff calls such idealisations "idealised cognitive models" (ICM). This feature of frames makes them open to cross-cultural variation. Particular frames may exist in only one or a few cultures, as is the case here, where the notion of our kind of calendric cycle is a peculiarity of the Western world. Friday can also be framed in other ways. We can think of it as part of the superstition frame, in which it is an unlucky day; as part of a weekend frame, in which it is the day before the weekend; as part of a work week frame, in which it is the last day of workweek. In other words, the meaning of a word seems to depend on the kind of frame within which we conceptualize it.

pg. 69: The point is that the conventional frames primarily equip us to deal with an idealised version of reality from which many deviations are possible. In this sense, frames are constructs of our imagination - and not mental representations that's directly fit a pre-existing objective reality. Frames are imaginative devices of the mind. Therefore, frame semantics contrasts with truth-conditional semantics. Frame semantics is the semantics of understanding, whereas the goal of truth-conditional semantics is to determine under what conditions and expression may be used or a sentence may be true.

pg. 69: Frames as cultural constructs
Much of our understanding of the world comes through the frames we have associated with our categories. The frames constitute a huge and complex system of knowledge about the world. This large network of frames reflects the knowledge that we make use of in using language and thinking about and acting in the world. The frames that we use are not only cognitive in nature but also cultural constructs; hence the term cultural model for the same idea. Cultural models can differ cross-culturally, from group to group, and even from individual to individual.

Culture can be defined as a collection of shared understandings represented by frames, or cultural models.
pg. 70: The restaurant-going frame

pg.93 : If it is reasonable to think of culture as to a great degree being constituted by people's shared understandings of their world, we can study a large part of culture by analysing the frames that underlie people's behaviour. The study of classification systems benefits from frame analysis in to least two ways. On the one hand, we can think of the broad gender-based categories of languages as frames. On the other hand, frames appear to be useful in explaining the specific details of such large-scale categorisation systems. Why are particular items included in one categoryrather than another? The answer seems to be that cultures are not simply composed of frames with an arbitrary membership but also have served at the higher level principles that operate on frames and on the basis of which people assign items to particular categories. Culture is different with respect to not only the frames they have but also of a higher level principles they have.


Zoltan Kövecses - Language, Mind and Culture
Cognitive Linguistics

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