Linguist George Lakoff has been in the news lately for his insights into the cognitive frames we use to understand reality—and for the use to which he has put his theories in political consulting. Michael Erard, a reporter for the Texas Observer, wrote a piece three years ago, “Metaphor and Myth,” that does a good job of presenting Lakoff’s ideas and political activity; now he has another one, “Frame Wars,” that compares Lakoff to conservative consultant Frank Luntz and towards the end quotes “one of the more thorough critiques of Lakoff that combines conservative thought with language expertise” by Justin Busch, better known to Languagehat readers as Semantic Compositions. In fact, it was being interviewed by Erard that led the erstwhile SC to drop his mask and reveal himself: “My name is Justin Busch, and I’m a computational linguist at Science Applications International Corporation…”; you can read his extended critique of Lakoff in the posts linked here. And for a very brief overview of cognitive linguistics, see the page on the subject at the fascinating Foamy custard site: “Foamy custard aims to explore the areas where folklore, mytholology, cultural studies and related disciplines come together.” (Thanks for the foamy tip, Mike!)


  1. Atrios, SC, when will LH reveal himself in a celebrity interview?

  2. If Atrios is a celebrity than of a very specific category.
    Sort of like Goebbels (sp?), Michel Moore or Leonid Zorin.*
    *L.Zorin (Soviet) – “political commentator” in Brezhnev times, who permanently – and on a very high KGB income lived in the West (NY, London and Tokio) and sent TV reportages on one and same topic – how torturous and exploited is the life of Little Man among capitalist jungle.

  3. Come on, Tatyana, I try to keep my mouth shut about politics here. Kerim only mentioned Atrios because Atrios, like SC, recently revealed his true identity.

  4. Com’n, Mr.Emerson-Amerigo, if you do, it’s quite a new phenomenon. I don’t want to waste my time on LH’ search and present you with your own quotes; let me just assure you, there are plenty.
    I was only complaining to the progression proposed, not to the “unmasking” idea. It’s like a point in SAT, logic part: which term is alien in given progression?
    You know, those tired apples-to apples again. It is, probably, organisational freak in me speaking.
    (I, for one, never shied away from spicing things up a bit with the politics-neither before nor after….)

  5. Tatyana, if you don’t call me and my friends Nazis, I won’t call you and your friends Nazis.

  6. It’s a free country, Zizka.
    And I didn’t know Mr. Goebbels (sp?) is your friend…

  7. Tatyana, this is it for me. Comparing anyone to Goebbels is offensive. I’m sure that you understand that. Atrios is a highly partisan but thoroughly mainstream Democrat and does not deserve the comparison, nor does Michael Moore. I have no idea who Zorin is. Go in peace.

  8. “Never go to bed mad. Stay up and fight.” –Phyllis Diller
    Is this the first fight in LH community, or did I miss one? 🙂

  9. Thanks, Map – live and learn, that’s a great quote for future reference. (Yes, you missed a lot; I’m usually the elephant in this china store – or the beetle in this anthill, from a different p-o-v)
    Zizka, why don’t you beleive me? I said I had nothing against the “unmasking” idea, only the row of examples looked illogical to me.
    Would you agree if I’ll tag Goebbels, Atrios, M.Moore and L.Zorin “political commentators and media personalities”?
    LH doesn’t belong to this folder, that’s all I’m saying.
    I did tell you who L.Zorin was. If you don’t beleive me, google is your loyal friend.
    I am sorry if you’re in a bad humorless mood. Can I buy you a beer (or low-calorie wheat-germ juice, your choice)?
    Sleep well.

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