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Stuttgart University, Institute of Linguistics, Germany
The article advances a hypothetic-and-cognitive model of holophrastic constructions’ decoding by the recipient’s consciousness as well as describes their speech generating function based on cognitive and probabilistic processes running under the control of individual’s consciousness.
Keywords: holophrastic constructions, generating function, cognitive model, decoding, psychic spheres, consciousness, sub-conscious, unconscious.
The essence of holophrastic constructions (here HCs) in the interpretation of some linguists (see, for instance, [14; 15; 19]) consists in the fact that it is regarded as a typical model or pattern, possessing the external informativeness and representing a complicated macro-structure, integrated in the matrix of domains. The initial stage of HCs’ perception is an original synthesis of spatial sensations and the man’s motor reactions, based on subconscious genetic knowledge. Then the concept is singled out of this complicated macro-structure and as a result of the conceptualization process the HC is projected in the form of a generalization, logical conclusion, characteristic of a situation from the point of view of events or actions actually existing in reality [17: 187]. Furthermore, a holophrasis embodies circumstance, time and the mental disposition of the persons concerned [20: 117].
The originality of speech generating properties of a HC as a product of combining words lies in the fact that it allows us to create a notion that characterizes the object from different aspects. The inner form of a compound word, which makes it possible to write it as one solid and syncretic word and at the same time gives a partitioned idea of the object, is instantly scanned by our consciousness generating a visually perceptible or tangible image, in which not only one but several features of the object are accentuated [9: 206].
Holophrasis, as O.Ponomareva regards it, is a peculiar reaction of visual and expressive character to the emerged sensory concepts, or ideas and their definite projection on the language level. Having appeared as a perceptive component, HCs put in motion the chain of connections, connotations, visual, tactile, auditory and gustatory characteristics of the object, thus creating its precise and vivid metaphoric image. The human’s cognition, as O.Ponomareva puts it, draws information from cognitive reality to excite sensory and motor systems that interact with a new communicative text, integrating the received information and facilitating its convergence and comprehension [17: 189]. Studying multiple word combinations (or HCs) T. Biermeier, in his turn, emphasizes the creativity and free nature of this type of word-formation [1: 74].
All stated above demonstrates the direct linkage of the processes of HCs’ generation, actualization and comprehension with emotional spheres and cognitive structures of interlocutors’ personalities.
Analyzing the problems of thought and feeling interaction, C. Izard noted that emotions are often connected with the individual’s mental images. And that is why he focused his attention on the thesis that the regular occurrence of a definite emotion in response to a definite image eventually leads to the formation of a definite affective cognitive structure in the individual’s consciousness. Besides, he noticesthat at all importance of the cognitive constituent of this combination with its seeming priority, just the very second constituent ensures the structure motivational charge as compared to its affective, highly emotional component [7: 28].
Hence, it appears that the connection between the content of the HC used in communication with the communicants’ psycho-emotional spheres seems to be obvious. As for the cognitive thinking as an instrument for forming a model of the surrounding world in a person’s consciousness, A. Shamis considers that historically, both in the evolutionary perspective and in ontogenesis, the reflection in the nervous system of the problematic surrounding begins with the formation in the individual’s memory of simple definite sensory images of objects, situations and actions. Subsequently, the causative-consecutive relationships between images are built in the model on the basis of direct dual combinations in time, i.e. time associations. He also draws attention to the fact that the human’s image-bearing reflection of surrounding is formed in the right brain hemisphere, whereas conceptual, i.e. verbal and logical, is formed in its left hemisphere. As a result of joint work of both hemispheres the reflection of surroundings in the human’s brain has a multi-level hierarchical character [18: 254-255].
Taking this into account, many researchers dedicated their works to the study of holophrasis both from the point of view of its speech generating function and from the position of its analysis as a means of influence upon the recipient’s logical and emotional beginnings.
Thus, W. Welte emphasized, that HCs as occasionalisms (or ad-hoc formations, nonce-formations) are the result of a conscious creative use of word-formative rules or on the contrary a conscious violation of already existing rules and therefore they can be either correct or incorrect. The speaker, for instance, using a context-dependent spontaneous construction often pursues humorous intentions or some specific stylistic aims. In the language of advertising such occasionalisms are the result of reflection and purposeful psychological planning in the sphere of advertising [ibid. :31].
Similarly, R. Fischer considers that many lexical phrases (HCs in this paper) appear in the language as occasionalisms [3: 54]. In P. Hohenhaus’ opinion [6: 23, 296] one of the features of occasionalisms (or ad-hoc formations) is their context and situation dependence as well as their ability to evoke comic effects, i.e. to perform humorous function.
From the point of view of speech generation, HCs can be characterized by the following features: novelty, its belonging to speech and to a certain author, creativeness, stylistic markedness, situation and context dependence and conditionality as well as the ability to perform artistic and aesthetic (or poetic) function . The occasional word formation attracts attention, stimulates the recipient’s creative activity and makes him/her switch to the process of interpreting of the said [ibid.: 196]. I. Gonta [5: 147] ascribes semantic integrity to the characteristic peculiarities of HCs formation.
In her work H. Bu?man  singles out the following functions of ad-hoc formations: information condensation based on the language economy principle, filling gaps in naming, hypostatisation and stylistic effects realization. Besides, P. Hohenhaus  does not deny that the list of the indicated functions could be continued because the phenomenon of ad-hoc formations (to which HCs belong) has not been sufficiently studied yet. The similar ad-hoc formations functions are also examined in the works of other linguists (see, for instance, [12: 129; 13: 67; 10: 360; 6: 35-36]).
Analyzing the peculiarities of HCs’ speech generating function G. Lakoff and M. Johnson  pointed out that, being a reflection of various aspects of creating the integral picture of thinking situations as well as individual’s behavior, HCs are connected with obtaining, transforming and usage of different types of knowledge – categorization and conceptualization, and they can serve as a material for the study of cognitive processes, as well as artistic, literary and rhetoric aspects of language (see also [17: 186]).
All stated above gives us the grounds to assume the existence of some common model of the HC’s generation and its decoding by the communicants. Therefore, to understand the essence of the processes the model reflects, it is quite enough to analyse the mechanism of decoding the verbal information contained in the HC by the recipient’s consciousness.
To achieve this aim we will make use of the known in scientific literature thesis about the division of the individual’s psyche into the conscious and unconscious, introduced by Z. Freud [4: 425] and transformed in his followers’ works into three topographical levels of the recipient’s psychic sphere functioning: conscious, sub-conscious, and unconscious, represented in the model (see Fig. 1).
In our model under the unconscious we understand those contents of psychic life of which a person either has no any idea at the moment, or has known nothing about them during a long period of time, or has never known of them at all. In other words, according to Z. Freud [4: 440], unconscious is viewed as everything that requires sufficient efforts for its apprehension or which is impossible to be apprehended at all.
Unlike the unconscious, the subconscious includes all the contents of the individual’s spiritual and psychic life, which are impossible to apprehend at a definite moment, though they can be easily decoded by the consciousness [4: 443].
Since unconscious is able to become conscious at any moment, it is natural to consider that between the layers of unconscious and conscious there is a topographical layer of subconscious. This very arrangement of layers, or levels of the individual’s psychic sphere, determined by the structural theory, is represented in our model.
It is also necessary to pay attention to Z. Freud’s remark that the actual difference between unconscious and subconscious lies in the fact that the first is realized with the help of material that remains unknown, while the latter is connected with the words representation[4: 429]. In this connection, we will emphasize that unlike the peculiarities of the rest of layers of the individual’s psychic sphere functioning, the work of consciousness is carried out on the basis of knowledge verbalization, conceptions, ideas and notions, feelings, impressions, etc.
Fig. 1. Hypothetic-and-cognitive model of HCs decoding by the recipient’s consciousness
The most important thing for further understanding of the peculiarities of cognitive model of HCs’ meaning decoding by a recipient, regarded in this paper, is the set of the following well-known theses.
Firstly, consciousness has a certain intensity threshold whose content has to be reached, that is why all rather weak elements remain within the frame of unconscious [8: 23]. Besides, unconscious contains all combinations of imaginations which have not reached the intensity threshold yet, but which, in the course of time, and under favorable circumstances penetrate the sphere of consciousness [ibid.: 24].
Secondly, by virtue of their directed functions, consciousness dictates some limits or restrictions (termed censorship by Z. Freud) to all the material which is incompatible with it. As a result, this material is lost in the unconscious [ibid.: 23].
Thirdly, any consciousness insufficiency such as exaggeration, one-sidedness or the functionality loss is accompanied by an unconscious process as the addition to the consciousness [ibid.: 56].
Fourthly, it is typical of human’s psyche that the state of awareness has the tendency to pass quickly. That is why, any idea that is being apprehended at a certain moment, ceases to be the one at the very next instant, however, it can become conscious again under familiar and easily reached conditions [4: 426].
Fifthly, theunconscious contains not only the past information forgotten by the individual but also all the inherited traits of his/her behavior which constitute the structure of his/her mind. It also contains mythological motives – archetypes, which represent typical states or forms, in which the individual experiences the phenomena of the collective unconscious [8: 23].
It would be appropriate to remark that within the individual’s psychology there exists a division of unconscious into the psyche, whose content is personal, and the psyche, whose content is impersonal and collective [ibid.: 166]. The personal content is formed in the mental sphere of individual’s psyche in the process of his/her socialization, whereas impersonal includes archetypes and unconscious instincts.
Taking into account the stated above initial postulates of psychiatry and psychology, we have the opportunity to consider in detail the process and mechanisms of HC’s decoding by a recipient (see Fig. 1). To accomplish this, let us imagine that the verbal information perceived by a recipient contains some HC, whose unique and specific form of presentation inevitably excites the recipient’s consciousness. The excitement that has arisen in such a way, as is known [18: 176], leads to the increase of the psycho-energetic activity of the group of neurons in the recipient’s brain, which are responsible for comprehension of the obtained verbal information. The nervous impulses from neurons through neural fibres simultaneously enter the mental layer of subconscious as well as unconscious. These impulses function as signal-inquiries about the presence of verbal, image-bearing, emotional and other concepts-prototypes similar in content to the HC fixed by the consciousness in the above mentioned layers of the recipient’s psychic sphere.
Then, depending on the level of recipient’s speech culture and on the size of coincidence of the fields of communicants’ mental representations, the cognitive processes of the HC’s decoding can develop according to the following three scenarios.
Thus, if communicants’ mental representation fields coincide, on the inquiry of consciousness (see Fig. 1, variant (I), the dashed arrow “a”) the verbalized concept-prototype (Cp) is most likely to be found in the memory of the mental layer of the individual’s psychic sphere. In this case, the reply will enter the recipient’s consciousness (the solid arrow “b”) as the concept-analogue (Ca) and consciousness instantly and almost automatically will decode the meaning of what has been said. For instance, according to the described scenario the recipient’s consciousness is able to automatically decode the phrases, containing HCs, e.g.: (1) “She’s not really your take-time-out-to-smell-the-roses girl.” [22: 253] or (2) “The skinny-no-boobs-no-belly-and-no-bum box” [21: 26]. This will happen due to the fact that the corresponding verbal concept-prototype, which can be easily transformed into a concept-analogue standing for the notion of “unromantic, pragmatic, or realistic person” in case of example (1), and “immature figure lacking the curves of a grown-up woman’s body” in example (2), is stored in the field of the individual’s mental memory.
The second variant of scenario (II) is realized in most cases under the condition of relatively small coincidence of the fields of the individuals’ mental representations and the recipient’s decoding of poly-component HCs. According to the second scenario, the concept-prototype for decoding the HC’s meaning (which, in contrast to scenario (I), has a verbal-and-image-bearing form), will be found within the layer of subconscious (see variant (II), arrow “a”) and will enter (arrow “b”) the recipient’s consciousness as a concept-analogue (Ca). This scenario may be of two variants: (1) the verbal-and-image-bearing prototype will be found in the recipient’s consciousness which is demonstrated in Fig 1 by hatching and is marked with number 5; (2) in the second more complex variant of scenario II all marked concepts-prototypes (2, 3, 4, and 5) containing verbal-and-image-bearing pictures of HCs’ separate components will enter the recipient’s consciousness. On the basis of their logical synthesis, the recipient’s consciousness generates the corresponding concept-analogue which it uses in the process of decoding the HC’s meaning.
The third variant of the scenario (III) seems to be the most complex and most interesting one, since it comes into existence during the process of poly-component HCs’ decoding and develops under insufficient coincidence of the communicants’ thesauri fields, however, on the background of the recipient’s high level speech culture. Under such conditions the concept-prototype can be localized only in the unconscious level of the recipient’s psyche. The sought for prototype can have a form of some not definitely clear-cut image, a certain emotional concept, or a concept of sensation. Therefore, the process of its transformation into the concept-analogue will be realized in two stages. During the first stage a not clear-cut practically non-verbalized image-bearing concept-prototype (hatched and marked in the model under number 1) on the inquiry of consciousness is transformed in the subconscious layer into a corresponding, but already verbal-and-image-bearing prototype (1/). During the second stage this verbal-and-image-bearing prototype, being completely verbalized by consciousness, is eventually transformed into a concept-analogue (Ca) in compliance with which the recipient has to decode the HC’s meaning. In the second variant the realization of scenario III, similarly to the previous case (see variant II), is carried out in the recipient’s consciousness on the basis of the logical synthesis of image-bearing concepts-prototypes (1, 2, 3, 4, and 5) into the integral verbal-and-image-bearing concept-prototype (1/). Then, the consciousness also transforms this concept-prototype into a corresponding verbal concept-analogue (Ca), used by the recipient in the process of decoding the poly-component HC’s meaning.
Summarizing all stated above, it should be emphasized that due to the influence of the specifics of topographical psyche layers functioning and the recipient’s individual and cultural characteristics, the cognitive in its nature process of the HC’s meaning decoding can vary in every definite case. Hence, it is obvious that the use of HC as a means of realization of speech generating function is also based on the cognitive and probabilistic processes running under the control of individual’s consciousness.
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