Eye motion along a static concrete object: Why “fictive motion” is not a figurative mental phenomenon


Fictive motion (specifically the co-extension path type: “The road runs through the desert”) is widely considered a specific class of figurative language. However, cognitive-linguistic and conceptual-metaphoric evidence is presented which suggests that linguistically expressed motion in fictive motion implicitly refers to the processing of a concrete action: to eye motion that occurs while scanning along a static visual percept (or mental image). As such, fictive motion differs principally from genuinely figurative expressions like ARGUMENT IS WAR – the figurative element of the latter cannot be interpreted as referring directly to a physically existing action or object. Also demonstrated is how a “non-figurative” theoretical approach to fictive motion can explain and predict so-called “non-fictive motion”; fictive motion-like temporal cognition; and fictive-motion types other than co-extension path. It is also shown how the various experimental cognitive and neurocognitive findings on fictive motion can be (re)interpreted in the new framework.

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