A Cognitive Semantic Analysis of Construal Operations in Donne’s ‘Go, and Catch a Falling Star’

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Ismail Abdulrahaman Abdulla
Abbas Fadhil Lutfi

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For long philosophers, literati and linguists have held the view that poetic language is artistic proper, and that it is by no means open to analysis in terms of the modern theories of language. The aim of this paper is to apply construal theory, a very renowned cognitive semantic model, to poetry. Thus, the researchers analyze one of the well-known poems by Donne, titled 'Go, and Catch a Falling Star', in the light of Langacker's construal theory. It is hypothesized that the theory is applicable to the analysis of meaning construction in the poetic texts as it is in the non-poetic ones. This paper also backs the cognitive principle that equates meaning to conceptualization. It also practically proves that the meaning of the linguistic expressions does not only reside in the semantic contents; the ways the conceptualizers construe the scenes heavily participate to the meaning construction of the single expressions and the whole text as well. Almost all the lines of the poem have been investigated in accordance with the four mechanisms of Langacker’s construal theory. Through the practical analysis of the poem, it has been concluded that poetic language like the ordinary non-poetic language makes use of the cognitive processes and highly depends on the construal mechanisms or operations in meaning making. Thus, in addition to the dictionary meaning of the words, phrases and sentences in the poem, construal makes up a principal element in constructing the meaning of the poem.

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