Das Lady-Gaga-Prinzip: Namen als Erklärungsmodelle im Kontext der Wirtschaft


  • Angelika Bergien






In cognitive linguistics, a paragon is described as an individual member of a category who represents either an ideal or its opposite. Paragons make it easier for us to identify a complex content, and we therefore have a great deal of interest in experiencing paragons. Lady Gaga is, for example, a paragon name in the field of pop music; Lehman (Brothers) is a paragon of the biggest bank failures in history and is used by many people to comprehend the unfolding of the late-2000s global financial crisis. Shared knowledge and socio-cultural backgrounds of language users are especially important when paragons from different fields or disciplines enter today’s business discourse. Examples include the Lady Gaga of the Contract Manufacturing Business, the Lehman of Livestock, the Donald Trump of sweeping up or the Apple of Hollywood. The comprehension process involves metonymic and metaphoric relationships which highlight or hide particular aspects of the paragon. The present paper attempts to show that the information conveyed by the paragon serves primarily to indicate the speaker’s or writer’s attitude towards the referent rather than being intended to help the hearer identify complex economic issues. It is argued that the use of a paragon leads to a somewhat bleached or reduced conceptualisation of the referent. The paper will also address theoretical and methodological challenges presented by studying paragon names in their respective discourse environments. The focus will be on qualitative rather than quantitative results. The data are all attested examNamen als Erklärungsmodelle im Kontext der Wirtschaft 383 ples collected from the Internet, unless otherwise stated. In addition, results from a survey carried out with students at Magdeburg University will be used for comparison.