Blending: Linguistics for Screenwriters

Linguistics is the science which studies the feature of human language. The linguist is responsible for analysis and investigation of all idiomatic evolution, the word structures, expressions and the phonetic aspects. Ferdinand de Saussure is known as the father of modern linguistics and his contributions, some concepts like langue and parole, were essentials.

Ferdinand de Saussure

The linguistics can be a great ally of a screenwriter, it can be obvious, but the most of the screenwriters don’t want to know any of this. It’s the difference of a professional writer: the vast knowledge. The professional is like a Viking, she/he walks through “other worlds”, many territories, looking for the best solutions to a better life (work, in this case).

I want to present you the Conceptual Blending. The Blending theory creators are Gilles Fauconnier and Mark Turner, linguists, cognitive scientists and authors.

Gilles Fauconnier and Mark Turner

Conceptual blending is a basic mental operation that leads to new meaning, global insight, and conceptual compressions useful for memory and manipulation of otherwise diffuse ranges of meaning. The essence of the operation is to construct a partial match between two input mental spaces, to project selectively from those inputs into a novel ‘blended’ mental space, which then dynamically develops emergent structure:

Blending Structure

In Pulp Fiction, Tarantino shows us a dialogue sequence of Jules, where we can see the perfect Blending:

Pulp Fiction Screenplay

First Input: popular thinking about prostitutes (body exploited, sexual slave, person DOMINATED by other person) with the partial match of a Second Input: Brett’s betrayal against Marcellus Wallace, the mob boss, all of this to conclude Brett wanted to “fuck” Marcellus, I mean, Brett wanted to subjugate Marcellus, like a bitch.

Mental Conception

Now imagine the same dialogue, but unblended – it doesn’t work. Conceptual Blending is a great way to turning your simple dialogue in a super dialogue; the technique to say something with other thing: mental connection, that’s the keyword.

You can watch the whole scene here:

Pulp Fiction screenplay here:


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