A cognitive analysis of similes in the book of Hosea

Pohlig, J. N. (2006-03)

Thesis (DLitt (Ancient Studies))--University of Stellenbosch, 2006.


This study accounts for the forms and functions of the similes in the Book of Hosea. It proposes new tools for textual criticism, biblical interpretation, and understanding Biblical Hebrew (BH) worldview. Chapter One presents the task we have chosen for ourselves, its nature, some obstacles from other areas of scholarship, and the foundational notions of embodiment and Prototype Theory. Chapter Two presents principles drawn from Cognitive Semantics and Cognitive Syntax. A weakened version of the Lakoff-Johnson conceptual metaphor theory is adopted, and the key notions of embodiment and judgments of prototypicality are presented. Elements of Conceptual Blending are presented and adapted for simile analysis. Finally, text-based differences between metaphors and similes are discussed. Chapter Three presents cognitive cultural constructs of Strauss and Quinn: cultural schemas, cultural exemplars, cultural models, and cultural themes. Strauss and Quinn’s conclusions about metaphors’ use in everyday speech are shown to agree with our postulation of speaker assessment of the hearer’s ability to process utterances before they are produced. This postulation allows us to erect one part of a theory of simile. Chapter Three then integrates metaphor with the Strauss-Quinn cultural meaning model, and then with Boroditsky’s Weak Structuring view of metaphor. The effect is to provide a reasonable basis, amenable to empirical investigation, for the investigation of both metaphor and simile. Finally, the notions of embodiment and prototypicality are applied to the Strauss-Quinn model. Chapter Four presents various assumptions and conclusions that are later used to analyze Hosea’s similes. These include: (1) elements of Floor’s (2004a) model of Information Structure for BH narrative, with modifications and additions for poetry; (2) three cognitive types of similes in Hosea, posited for working purposes; (3) an adaptation of the conceptual blending apparatus to similes; (4) hypotheses to account for the distribution of similes versus that of metaphors in BH poetry, and to account for patterned differences in how various kinds of concepts are combined and manipulated; (5) an integration of these patterns with the three simile types; and (6) correlation of the cultural constructs of cultural schema, cultural theme, and cultural model with Hosea’s similes and metaphors. Chapter Five presents a number of scholarly views of the Book of Hosea, and characterizes the principal authorities cited in the next chapter. Chapter Six deductively applies all the foregoing theory to an examination of Hosea’s similes. Other observations are made inductively: (1) kinaesthetic image schemas’ role in Hosea’s poetry; (2) systematic difference in the use of similes versus metaphors in image elaboration; and (3) Information Structure’s role in simile analysis. Chapter Seven summarizes this study’s research and conclusions concerning, e.g., (1) the criteria for accounting for the embodiment and judgments of prototypicality characterizing Hosea’s similes; (2) the dependence of Hosea and his audience upon knowledge of themselves and their environment for their view of YHWH; and (3) the aid brought by a cognitive theory of similes in the task of textual criticism. Chapter Eight discusses prospects for further research and possible implications for translating Hosea’s similes and metaphors.

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