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Jan 25th,2002

† † † † † † † † The Oral Metaphor Construct (OMC)

† †The Oral Metaphor Construct (OMC) is a term I coined to represent what I believe to be one of the most important concepts and phenomenon in linguistics and which, unfortunately, has been overlooked by Linguists and others studying language. Generally speaking, the phenomenon relates to my observation that semantic values can be attributed to phonetic segments and phonemes based upon the metaphor of how the human species perceives he produces the corresponding sound. A phoneme pattern is established for each language that could explain based upon (OMC) the resultant morpheme. This pattern could be viewed as consistent throughout for commonly spoken words comprising of a language's MCW. For more complex words or morphemes, the relevancy of (OMC) would diminish as such complex meanings could be viewed as being stored in a mental lexicon that is consciously memorized. †Still, the overall effect is that the assignment of semantic values to morphemes and words is less arbitrary as previously thought. †My finding also completely undermines the contempory and historical linguistic view of the Roman Alphabet and other previously thought to be non-ideogrammatic alphabets. In the 'Advancement of Learning' and 'De augmentis Scientiarum', Francis Bacon refers to the Roman Alphabet as conventional and artificially chosen by the inventors of the alphabet. Bacon clearly regards the Roman Alphabet as non-ideogrammatic in contrast to the Chinese Alphabet which is ideogrammatic. However, based upon (OMC), contrary to Baconís view, the Roman Alphabet characters are quite ideogrammatic, in fact, based upon the clear observation that the shape of each character mimics how the sounds for that character is to be produced and, thus, (albeit not obvious to most observers), symbolize, also, the metaphor relating to the production of the sound representing that character that has clear semantic and conceptual meaning based upon (OMC). Its not certain if the inventors of the Roman Alphabet understood this principle of the (OMC) but one would have to believe they might have. In any event, the underlying principle of the Roman Alphabet actually being an ideogrammatic Alphabet was not recognized by past generations nor past great thinkers such as Bacon nor is even perceived by contemporary linguists. †The principle of (OMC) may also be a dominant driving force in the historical development of language in so far as once an oral metaphor becomes so obvious as a result of natural selection and evolution or community ritual so that one can consider it to have become second nature or hard-wired or semi-hard-wired, a less pronounced or different corresponding sound production is needed to represent that particular metaphor over time.

† † †I have compiled some preliminary data confirming the OMC and my efforts continue along these lines. Due to the tedious nature of the data I will not be able to include them in this paper due to time constraints.
Some of my findings are that MCW's have constant semantic values not affected by context whose semantic values can be directly related to the OMC. There is an internal consistency of the semantic values of MCW. In other words, the OMC follows a pattern so that one can predict what the semantic meaning of a particular MCW word might be based upon the pre-established OMC pattern. The significance of this is that MCW words comprise of words whose semantic values are not arbitrarily chosen nor chosen by convention but,rather, are innately chosen. Thus, it is my theory that the MCW words, generally comprising of 65% of the words spoken in the language, based upon the OMC, serve as the beacons of lights that shape, form, establish the syntax of the language, and explain, at least in part, the phenomenon we witness in the outer surface structure of the language.

† † †I would like to suggest that the metaphor is a device more comprehensive and pervasive than anyone has imagined. †Our very sense of consciousness is rooted in the metaphor and our sense of physics and physical reality is grounded in a metaphysics of metaphor. †Communicative stimuli are not concentrated in a sensual neuronal framework so that we can automatically make sense of them. Sound provides us information about the environment, but also serves as a communicative medium. Vision is uni-dimensional in the sense that we don't have to learn to see. We see naturally and automatically. †In contrast, we don't communicate naturally but we must learn to do so, albeit, we learn to communicate faster than what would be expected by mere external pedagaguery.
† † I would like to propose that in any learning acquisition where there must be swift learning for species survival the metaphor plays an important role, not only so much as a linguistic principle, but also as a biological and physical principle . †Lakeoff and Turner have shown the rich and profound dimensions of the metaphor as conceptual linguistic tools. †I propose, however, that the application of the metaphor goes well beyond the conceptual linguistic models visibly decipherable in the surface structure of the language. †The metaphor is also utilized in the biology and physiology and ultimate evolutionary development of a species. †It is the force by which, consciousness, self-awareness, intelligence and the communicative faculty evolve. The metaphor, of course, can be distinguished from selective pressures in the environment but once triggered by these selective pressures, the metaphor becomes a self-fulfilling and self-motivating metaphysical or even physical phenomenon of force that promotes the ongoing evolution of the organism. †The metaphor is not merely rooted in the language or higher level conceptual thought processes, but is very much part of the biology of the organism representing simultaneously an important component of both the metaphysics and the biological physical reality of the organism.
† †The species is confronted with the problem of mapping stimuli inputs to response outputs having survival value. †Thus, the stimuli input, in a crude sense, is the metaphor domain which connects to the target range comprising a suitable survival response. †On a neurological level, we typically do not envision this as a metaphor but, in essence it is. Neurons have to be matched with input sensory neurons that serve as a metaphor of the environment. The environment in turn, is the metaphor domain that has to excite the proper target sensory neurons so that the species can interact with the environment. Our visual cortexes see not the environment but match the sensory impulses with a realistic conception of the environment that has survival value.
† †The metaphor can be viewed as the physical reality behind schizophrenia and neurosis. In these individuals, the neuronal impulses may be intact and the metaphor domain correct but the mapping is some way short circuited. The metaphor explains a rational basis for embryology that have dumfounded scientists. How can one embryonic cell contain all the ingredients and genetic information needed to create a mature member of the species? We can explain the phenomenon by supposing that the precursor cells contain in their genome metaphorical information that depicts differentiating instructions for succeeding cells.
† † †In considering the concept of the metaphor as a powerful physical reality and physical force, we must be very careful of its abuse in language. Essentially, by using a carefully developed metaphor, one could very much issue libelous or insulting statements, causing deep anguish and grief in victimized individuals, without literally uttering a venomous word. †Libel laws must be broadened to account for this potential metaphorical abuse. Also, it is clearly conceivable for governmental agencies or the news media to abuse the metaphor and, thus, mislead or even brainwash the public at large. In establishing an empirical methodology that can detect metaphor abuse, we can establish reliable filters for screening out tainted news. ( This also is referred to as reading between the lines). Finally, the inducement of an apparent neurosis in a perfectly normal individual could be accomplished by the devious abuse of the metaphor. These are all areas that linguists will have to concern themselves once the realization of the metaphor's all encompassing power is achieved.

† † In my current research, and prospective future research, I have chosen to examine the metaphor at a level, heretofore, not attempted. I have done so, in part, in recognition to what I have stated above--my recognition of the metaphor as an all encompassing powerful device in a linguistic, biologic, and physical sense. The level that I have chosen to examine the metaphor, you might say, is precisely that level where the physiological borders the linguistic--the level of the oral cavity and sound producing apparatus. †The dynamics of the metaphor is as real here as it is a level above in the linguistic conceptual surface structure and a level below in the neuronal network structure. †As the innovator of this concept and perspective, I am certainly willing to further explain this concept to scholars, researchers, or the general public and will make a diligent effort to respond to your questions.
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†† I encourage scholars and researchers to cite this work and grant permission to copy this paper and my CD, "The Myth of the LAD", for instructional and academic purposes.

† †For an illustrative example of how the Oral Metaphor Construct is applied, click on the site map link above, and, then, click on page 2.
† †For instructions on how to obtain my CD, click on the site map link above, and, then, click on page 3.†
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† † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † ---Asa M. Stepak

Copyright 2002

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