Mock Exam 2 – IELTS Academic – Reading 3



Reading Passage 3 has paragraphs A-H. Which paragraph contains what information?


A. The Conceptual Blending Theory is one of the theories within the Cognitive Linguistics movement. The Conceptual Blending Method has proved to be a useful tool for the analysis of discourse ever since it enriched the cognitive linguistics field established by its first proponents, Gilles Fauconnier and Mark Turner.

B. The theory underlines that integration, or blending, is essential in thought and comprehension. It is so because mental operations that appear in our minds are reflected in our language by means of metaphors and analogies. This categorization of thought is not a recent concept. Many philosophers, such as Plato, Aristotle, and Kant, have examined category as a concept of understanding. Kant claimed that pure concepts of understanding arise thanks to objects of intuition. Language and thought are “creative in the sense that they produce new links, new configurations, and correspondingly, new meaning and novel conceptualization”, according to Fauconnier.

C. The process of blending consists of mental spaces, input spaces, generic spaces, blend, emergent structures, and cross-space mapping. Common characteristics of input spaces are blended with other spaces. These common features are named in the generic space under such terms as, for instance, undergoer; process; outcome; agent/figure; attribute; events; person; place; action; emotion; phonetic similarity; and many others which are universal terms. Therefore, the role of generic space is to map out the similarities. It is usually at the top. The blend is the place where both inputs are projected onto and finally, the emergent structure is a structure that emerges from the blend which does not result from the inputs. This process is accomplished by means of composition, completion, and elaboration. The first consists of projections of the inputs making new relations that did not exist in the inputs, the second one concerns knowledge of cognitive and cultural information, and the former is elaboration.

D. Therefore, in the case of any concept analyzed by means of conceptual blending, we firstly focus on common characteristics of inputs in generic space. Then, the contents of inputs are blended by means of cross-space mapping. The final result of the process is the blend, where a new structure emerges. The content of the structure is different from the one of the inputs and creates a new idea, that is at the source of certain incongruity. New juxtapositions and new ideas arise thanks to this process.

E. In ‘’Blending and Metaphor’’, Grady, Oakley, and Coulson illustrate how the conceptual blending theory works using a well-known metaphor – ‘’This surgeon is a butcher’’. If we were to show this sentence using conceptual blending, there would be two input spaces – one for a surgeon, and one for a butcher. In each input space specific undergoers, instruments, work spaces, roles, etc., would be cross-space mapped. Therefore, surgeon → butcher, patient → animal, scalpel → cleaver, operating room → abattoir, healing – eating flesh. This mapping could go on with even more specific ideas concerning these two subjects. The blend receives some input elements and the final product is the emergent structure, which creates a new idea that stems from the blend. Here, this idea is that a given surgeon, described using this metaphor, is shown to be incompetent. Instead of healing a patient, the surgeon does the butchery.

F. Moreover, the writers of ‘’Blending and Metaphor’’ discuss another example using the same input elements but seen from a different perspective. This time, they ask the reader to imagine a young apprentice butcher being described in this way ‘’He’s not a butcher, he’s a surgeon’’. Here, even though input spaces would be similar, the emergent structure would be entirely opposed to what we have just seen. In this specific context, the butcher would be incompetent, too slow, or too analytical as his methods vary from those of a seasoned butcher. The blends discussed above occur naturally in our thoughts and understanding and are therefore basic elements of our cognition.

G. Schubert in the Journal of Literary Semantics analyses American television series and the blends occurring in the series ‘’ House of Cards’’. Frank Underwood, the main protagonist of the series, introduces himself to the viewer in the first episode. He says ‘’As for me, I’m just a lowly House Majority Whip. I keep things moving in a Congress choked by pettiness and lassitude. My job is to clear the pipes and keep the sludge moving. But I won’t have to be a plumber much longer.’’ Again, this sentence can be illustrated using the conceptual blending method. The job of a politician is compared to the one of a plumber. The sentence also hints at Frank’s criminal agenda and equals the political system to pipes and sewage. The politician finds himself in a situation where he needs to get dirty to eliminate any obstructions to his plans.

H. To conclude, the conceptual blending method allows us to view and analyse our cognitive processes. Blending phenomena occur multiple times in a day in our brains, and it is highly impressive.