As methods of applied language, the research of metaphor is prior to that of irony recently. As to metaphor, people have explored it widely and deeply from a variety of angles, as from rhetoric, semantics, cognitive linguistics, linguistic philosophy, and linguistic psychology etc. Especially in the past ten years, there are a great number of noted scholars giving prefaces to metaphor, one of whom is the well known professor Wang ”setting off a metaphoric
So do the foreign people, they lay emphasis on the metaphor. It seems that people regard metaphor as a valuable child, and love him for ever. Nevertheless, as for irony, people neglect it and view it as a step-child. Certainly, they aren’t willing to examine it and bring it
up, and never perspect it from different aspects and fields. Due to the conditions mentioned above, this article investigates the cognition of irony, expecting people to probe irony from one point to another.
1. The definition, theoretical base and process of cognition.
“Cognition”, which used to be thought of as a philosophical term, was explained as “ learn” and “know”, even so it possessed
“sense perception, feelings, memory and imagination generating, conception, judgments and reasoning” in the psychology; so in
psychology, cognition was defined as “the study of people’s ability
to acquire, organize, remember and use knowledge to guide their behavior” at presents this word “cognition” is viewed as “realize
and learn in the modern English-Chinese dictionary, furthermore people never look at “cognition” as an independent them. In the
Longman dictionary of contemporary English, ”cognition” was
defined as “ the act or action of knowing, including consciousness of things and judgment about them”. Obviously, cognition is just
the same as the cognitive process, Zhao-Yanfang, a famous writer, has defined cognition as it is a part of cognitive psychology, including human beings, feelings, motivation, determination and intellectual thinking. At the same time, it is also the process of head
manage material word and information, then realizing the objective things”.
1.2 The background and theoretical base
As the audio-lingual method was on the decline in the 1960s, people attempted to bring to linguistic research the new in sights of psychology, psycholinguistic, then a revolution was seen in linguistic theory.
On the early decade of the 1960s, a Swiss psychologist Jean
Piaget, whose focus of research was “occurrence cognition” held
a belief of mastering a new knowledge of linguistics, of which process is intellectual, and he realized every intelligence contained some cognitive construction. He plays an important role in the cognitive psychology, and lays emphasis on “ thinking creativity” in
the language acquisition. Another people, Brunner, influenced by
Piaget, he believed, first of all, everyone, whoever wants to study a new knowledge well, they must turn to various thinking activities. Such as observation, analysis and conclusion; and then should try to discover linguistic rules and principles to judge and infer still another, which influences cognitive psychology a great deal was the
theory of American linguistist Noam Chomsky. Chomsky thought initially that the cognitive theory reflected the theoretical reorientation in linguistics and psycholinguistics. Further more, he believed that language is ruled. With these rules it is possible to create an infinite number of utterance. Through his theory. We can know creative thinking is very important.
In a word, Piaget’s and Brunner’s theories are the foundation
of cognitive psychology, even so Chomsky’s transformational
generative linguistics is the fundament of linguistic cognition. 1.3 The process of cognition
It is necessary to point out cognitive process is divided into three stages.
1.3.1 the pre linguistic stage
The cognition characterizes sense perception and appearance in the stage, in which children who are unable to judge due to physical motor problem can only develop normal pronunciation on the disability has been corrected factually it’s an unreasoning
stage. Because irony is considered as a way of applied language. It can’t be found in this stage.
1.3.2 the acquisitive stage
From the origin of language, this stage is a phase of generating conception, and on that base grows into primary judgment and reason. This stage makes a firm fundament for the form and use of irony.
1.3.3 the applied stage
Irony, as an applied way of language, starts to exist in the process of using language, because its cognitive base, that’s to say
conception, has got down to take shape. With these conceptions people start to think the matter wisely and exactly.
2 The formation of irony as a cognitive method
The children don’t wake up one morning with a fully formed
linguistic system for social communication language is acquired in a sequence of identifiable stages during a very specific maturational period of human development. With each successive stage more closely approximating the adult grammar. The cognition of irony forms, it achieves emphasis by saying the opposite of what is meant, the intended meaning of the words being the opposite of their usual
With the children’s language acquisition enlarging and
extending. They broaden their minds littlie by little. There are various conceptions formed in their brains. Naturally irony is used in their utterance, but irony is at random in this period. Generally speaking, the reason why irony is produced is that children are confused about things in the world, they can’t tell A from B exactly
Early irony, to some degree, is “ without finding out the truth”
and “calling white black”. Gradually children look into the world
around them, enlarge thinking ability and broaden their eyes, the reserved thinking turns up intentionally and unintentionally in their lives and games, so that they develop the cognitive ability to abstract substances. E.g.: preschool-ages, the babbling stage gradually gives way to recognizable stage, they collocate the reference with conception, and their utterances become longer and longer with complex sentence structures. What’s more, children
form the three reference plane of human body in their minds, at the same time there is some behavior of doing exactly the opposite
once in a while. Take it for example, parents ask him to go west, however he go east on purpose; teachers wish him to concentrate his attention at class, nonetheless he plays games continually and keeps looking around the wonderful world outside the windows. From their naughty behavior, we can find that children’s reserved
thinking has been forming step by step. Of course the incidental reserved thinking has been increasing , with the development of all kinds of concepts. For instance, when children learn the conception of the color, they want to mix those colors purposefully. They are indented to confound black and white without forethought. As far as cognitive is concerned. The so-called rebel ional action is the complete manifestation of the inner needs. Furthermore it is the thinking radiation in the reserved direction.
Though the cognitive method of irony has existed faintly in the acquisitive stage, it’s embodied fully when people are using ways to analyze and judge the utterance, in other words, it is reflected in linguistic thinking stage. In my opinion, the ability of cognition develops from perception and surfaces to abstract logical thinking little by little, from the characteristics of language, the reserved
thinking is the same as abstract thinking. And it is a psychological activity, which gets down to analysis, conclusions and judgment on the base is of superficial phenomenon and conception. For instance, children don’t wake up one morning with a fully formed linguistic system and filled with conception. They want to improve themselves increasing, at first they must observe the material, then analyze and reason, so that they can thoroughly put conception into practice.
3. The special application of cognition in the irony
From the intellectual view, the cognition of irony can be represented completely in the context of situation. In pragmatics, linguists differ the sentence meaning from utterance meaning. As a rule, only the utterance meaning can express exactly speakers’
purpose, feelings and attitudes in communication. In the context, the process of concluding and judging is a process of cognition, which characterizes intellectual thought. Irony, must depend on context too, which is determined by its nature. Irony contains several meanings, sometimes they are hardly the same, even be
opposite. Just as Yang- Hongru said “ irony contains two totally
different meanings. there is a literal meaning which is intrinsic: there is a special meaning which is gifted by the co-text as for people, it is not easy to understand and master irony precisely. In order to communicate successfully with each other, people must think over again and again, that’s to say, we must know its
cognition to understand irony. Once irony is isolated from the contexts, it is very difficult for us to distinguish. E.g.:
(1)why not get closer
If we only understand 1) from the literal meaning, the meaning is to advise other people to stand closer. People may think that the relationship between the interlocutors should be close, like sweethearts or mother and child. However if the speaker is standing in a crowded bus in summer, there is no fresh air to breath, he won’t
require the hearer to stand closer at all. Utterance meaning is different from the sentence meaning, so the hearer must consider carefully the speaker’s implied meaning, or the scene will be
ridiculous. From the context, obviously, the speaker is indignant with the hearer, he uses the reserved thinking. Suppose you planned
an outing on a certain day, expecting it to be fine, but the day come it was raining heavily. If you said” what fine weather for an outing”
you are speaking in a reserved thinking, if a barbarous act was called civilized or cultural, irony was used. To some extent, irony is to stand facts on their head and reverse right and wrong”, the
reserved thinking don’t adhered to the maxim of qualify. ( Grice) A logician and philosopher, Paul Grice put forward the cooperative principles, in which people don’t say what they believe to be false
(2)“Very well”, keep insulting me”
(3)“You’d better speak louder to make the whole world know the secret”
(2) and (3) break the reasoning condition, on the normal situations in (1), no one demand other people to insult himself. Unless he is a mad: in (3), since that’s a secret, it is impossible to
speak louder and let other people know, so the speaker’s real
(2a) don’t insult me any longer
(2b) don’t speak so loud