Apart distant mountain range in comparison to a picture

Apart
from foregrounding, focusing also includes the initial selection of conceptual
content for linguistic presentation. One of the facets of the selection is the
access an expression affords to a particular set of cognitive domains on a
given occasion or in general. The other one is the extent of the expressions
“coverage” within the domains which are accessed. It needs to be understood
which portions in the domain are evoked and used for comprehension. Every
expression has a scope which consists of the coverage in the particular domain.

Scope
evidently has a strong cognitive basis and it is an extent to which one can
mentally encompass at a particular moment while watching the film. Drawing
example for our visual apparatus limits, one can see finitely at any point of
time. At a particular point of time, a person has in his scope of vision only a
limited portion of our spatial surroundings. Likewise, in every domain there is
a scope of any expression. It is the conceptual content that appears in the
subjective viewing frame inherent in its apprehension.

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One
may consider a word like ‘glass’, for example. The word evokes the domain of
space for the specification of the characteristic shape. The comprehension of
the conception of space needs a certain spatial expanse. However, this spatial
scope can never subsume the whole world. Similarly, the word ‘fall’ needs the
conceptualization of the span of time which is long enough to encompass the
mentioned action. But, this temporal scope does not include eternity. The term
‘cousin’ would evoke a non-basic domain comprising a network of kinship
relations. On the other hand, a kinship network can be extended indefinitely
far in any direction.

It
is not implied by bounding in the abstract sense that a scope’s boundary is
objectively discernible. This might be imposed by the subjective viewing frame,
and not necessarily with any great precision. A person seeing a scene in a film
can take into consideration the surroundings which are shown, while another
might stick to seeing the protagonists who are shown on the screen. This is
like when we see a distant mountain range in comparison to a picture from close
up. The scope in the previous instances is much more than that it is in the
latter instances.

One
sometimes needs to distinguish between an expression’s maximal scope in some
domain, i.e. the full extent of its coverage, and a limited immediate scope,
the portion directly relevant for a particular purpose. The immediate scope is
thus foregrounded vis-à-vis the maximal scope. Metaphorically, one can describe
it as the “onstage region” or the general region of viewing attention.

The
example of the word ‘elbow’ can be taken to understand the phenomenon of scope
with utmost clarity.  It selects the domain
of the human body for its conception. However, it is totally clear that elbow
is not characterized directly with respect to the body. There are many major
parts in the body including the arms. Elbow is firstly a part of an arm. Hence,
in the process of conceptualizing an elbow, the conception of an arm in
particular is most directly relevant (“onstage”) in this case. There is a
conceptual hierarchy, such that the human body figures directly in arm. The arm
in turn figures directly in elbow. However, the body figures only indirectly in
elbow. Thus it can be said that for elbow, the body functions as the maximal
scope and the arm as the immediate scope.

Distinctions
between maximal and immediate scope are quite significant in hierarchies
consisting of successive whole-part relations. While body-part terms afford the
clearest examples, there are similar hierarchies in other domains of experience
too:

body
> arm > hand > finger > knuckle

car >
motor > piston > ring

In
the above schemes, the preceding one will be considered as the immediate scope
for the next. As a consequence, each term incorporates in its matrix the
essential content of all the terms that precede it in the hierarchy.

3.4.3
Prominence

There
are numerous kinds of asymmetries in language structure which are considered as
matters of prominence. The terms prominence and salience (used here
interchangeably) are not self-explanatory. A proper description of the terms
would satiate the purpose in this scenario.

One
needs to consider the dimensions of prominence. Focusing comes into play as
anything which is selected has more prominence than the part which remains
unselected. Also, the foreground is more salient in comparison to the
background. Space and vision have a privileged cognitive status vis-à-vis other
realms of experience. More generally, an intrinsic disparity in salience seems
clearly evident between the members of various oppositions: concrete vs.
abstract, real vs. imaginary, explicit vs. implicit, and so on.

There
are two particular sorts of prominence: profiling and trajectory / landmark
alignment. They are similar in that each involves the focusing of attention (a
strong kind of foregrounding), although they are not the same. Both the
constructs are strongly justified on semantic grounds.

3.4.3.1
Profiling

An
expression actually selects a particular body of the conceptual content as the
very basis for the meaning construction. Construed broadly, an expression’s
conceptual base is identified as its maximal scope in all domains of its matrix.
The base is identified as the immediate scope in active domains—that is, the
portion put “onstage” and foregrounded as the general locus of viewing
attention, if it is construed more narrowly. Attention is directed to a
particular substructure within the onstage region and this is known as the
profile. Thus an expression’s profile stands out as the specific focus of
attention within its immediate scope. The profile can also be characterized as
what the expression is conceived as designating or referring to within its base
(its conceptual referent).

3.4.3.2
Trajector / Landmark Alignment

Varying
degrees of prominence are conferred on its participants when a relationship is
profiled. The participant who is most prominent is called the trajector. This is
the entity construed as being located, evaluated, or described.
Impressionistically, it can be characterized as the primary focus within the
profiled relationship. It happens often that some other participant is made
prominent as the secondary focus. If so, this is called a landmark. Expressions
can have the same content, and profile the same relationship, but differ in
meaning because they make different choices of trajector and landmark. In the
process of watching the film, the spectator identifies the characters in this
way. 

The
semantic contrast can only reside in the degree of prominence conferred on the
relational participants. In each case the other participant functions as a
spatial landmark for that purpose. This difference in trajectory / landmark
alignment, a matter of construal, is solely responsible for the semantic
difference of the content of the film which is being construed by the
spectator.

3.4.4 Perspective

If
conceptualization (metaphorically) is the viewing of a scene in a film, perspective
is the viewing arrangement. The most obvious aspect of perspective is the
vantage point which is assumed.

3.4.4.1
Viewing Arrangement

A
viewing arrangement is the overall relationship between the “viewers” and the
situation being “viewed”. For the purpose of comprehending the relationship
between film and the spectators, one should understand that the viewers are
conceptualizers who apprehend the meanings of filmic expressions.

One
particular viewing arrangement, common in everyday conversational interactions,
arguably has default-case status, being presupposed unless there is reason to
assume the contrary. In the default arrangement, the interlocutors are together
in a fixed location, from which they observe and describe actual occurrences in
the world around them.

One
very important component of the viewing arrangement is a presupposed vantage
point. In the default arrangement, the vantage point is the actual location of
the speaker and hearer. The same objective situation can be observed and described
from any number of different vantage points that result in different
construals. Many expressions undeniably invoke a vantage point as part of their
meaning.

Very
closely related to the vantage point is a important aspect of construal known
as subjectivity vs. objectivity. This is best introduced with reference to
visual perception. When a spectator is watching a gripping play, all the
attention is directed at the stage, and is focused more specifically on the
actor speaking at that point of time on the stage. Being totally absorbed in
the play, the spectator hardly has any awareness of himself or his own
immediate circumstances.

Thus,
the viewing arrangement maximizes the asymmetry between the viewer and what is
viewed. This is known as the subject and object of perception. When the viewing
role is asymmetrical to the maximum degree, the viewing subject is said to be
construed with maximal subjectivity and the object with maximal objectivity.

3.4.4.2
The Temporal Dimension

The
process of conceptualization is inherently dynamic which means it is something
which happens. This occurs through time as it involves mental processing or
neurological activity.  This time which
is needed for the conceptualization is known as processing time. Every
conceptualization requires this time and even the most instantaneous ones like
feeling the prick of a pin needs a particular duration and a course of
development when minutely examined. Thus, it can be understood that dynamicity
pertains to how a conceptualization develops and unfolds through processing
time, as an aspect of construal.

It
is very important to differentiate processing time from conceived time. Time is
construed most objectively when a span of time is profiled by expressions like
a moment, week or next year and so on. Time comes into play in the conception
of any event, since events occur through time. If the conceptualization of time
necessarily occurs through time, it can be very hard to distinguish between
conceived and processing time. However, they need to be properly separated for
semantic purposes. Thus, it can be said that human beings have the ability to
invoke the conception of one entity in order to establish “mental contact” with
another.

3.5 Meaning Construction in Language

It
needs to be recognized that the systematic structure found in the language that
we speak reflects a systematic structure within the conceptual system of our
minds. It is believed to be so by cognitive linguists and they move forward to
explore the hypothesis that there are kinds of linguistic expressions which
make it evident that the very structure of the conceptual system is reflected
in the patterns of language of human beings. Let us take for example these
three sentences:

a.
Christmas is fast approaching.

b.
The number of shares we own has gone up.

c.
Those two have a very close friendship.

The
examples actually relate to the abstract conceptual domains of TIME, QUANTITY
AND AFFECTION respectively in chronology. The body of knowledge within the
conceptual system of human beings is known as the conceptual domain which goes
on to contain and organize the related ideas and experiences of humans.

TIME
is a conceptual domain and it can relate a range of temporal concepts. In each
of these sentences, the abstract concepts are comprehended in terms of
conceptual domains which relate to concrete physical experiences. While
‘Christmas’ is conceptualized in terms physical MOTION, ‘number of shares’ gets
conceptualized in terms of VERTICAL ELEVATION and ‘friendship’ is conceptualized
in terms of PHYSICAL PROXIMITY by the use of the word ‘close’.

One
of the most paramount findings is that the abstract concepts are structured
systematically in terms of conceptual domains which are derived from the
experiences of the nature of physical objects which also involve properties
like motion, vertical elevation and physical proximity (Lakoff and Johnson
1980, 1999). Our conceptual system actually organizes the abstract concepts in
terms of experiences that are concrete and that these abstract concepts are
made more readily accessible.

3.6 Conclusion

To
sum up, this chapter attempts to explain various cognitive principles which are
central to the cognizance of film and language. Film is beyond doubt one of the
most complex forms of language. Therefore, understanding of film involves those
complex processes which are crucial for the proper functioning of any
communication system. The only way to comprehend and have a clear picture of
this procedure is to approach the study of film from the perspective of
cognitive linguistics. However, there is scope for further research in this
domain owing to the vast boundaries of the art form and the intricate levels of
effect and stimuli which the audience is exposed to while watching a movie on
the screen.

 

Chapter 4

Textual Analysis of the Contents Encoded in a Film

4.1 Introduction

In continuation to
the third chapter, in this chapter the research would explore the cognitive
significance of those filmic constituents which are either larger than frame, shot
or are exocentric in nature. Therefore, one
aim is to decipher film as a text form. There are various similarities
between the filmic text and the linguistic text and these commonalities will be
investigated here. Various forms of texts have been distinguished with utmost
clarity in the following section of the thesis which makes it clear how the
filmic text is constituted by the amalgamation of the various forms of texts
and why cinema is considered to be one of the most complex forms of language. Another aim is to explore the
metaphorical nature of language and film.

4.2 Film as a text

Film as a text
embodies the communicative intentions of its creator. The success of the
cinematic communication, therefore, depends on the successful deciphering of
this encoded intention by the audience. If film is considered as a text owing
to its constitutional features, it can be understood that the meaning of the
film lies in the cognitive process of the audience. Therefore, one needs to
embark upon a research in this direction to understand the hidden structures
and the processes that are involved in cognizing a film text, which can be
taken as one of the most complex form of languages.

Any object that
can be “read” can be called a text, irrespective of the fact if it is a work of
literature, an arrangement of buildings, a street sign or styles of attires.
Text is a coherent set of signs that have certain kind of informative message
in it. The set of symbols are actually considered in terms of the content of
the informative message and not in terms of the medium in which these get
represented or the physical form.

Text
is a confluence of signs that add up to convey a meaning to the reader or the
viewer who gauges that meaning by virtue of the concept of the language. This
process of cognizing the text