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BBL 3207. Analysing Metaphors. Metaphor. A metaphor is a process of mapping between two different conceptual domains. The different domains are known as the target domain and the source domain. Target domain = the topic or concept that you want to describe through the metaphor

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bbl 3207

BBL 3207

Analysing Metaphors

metaphor
Metaphor
  • A metaphor is a process of mapping between two different conceptual domains.
  • The different domains are known as the target domain and the source domain.
  • Target domain = the topic or concept that you want to describe through the metaphor
  • Source domain = the concept that you draw upon in order to create the metaphorical construction.
  • Domain = any coherent organization of experience
examples of conceptual metaphor
Examples of conceptual metaphor
  • Your claims are indefensible.
  • He attacked every weak point in my argument.
  • His criticisms were right on target.
  • I demolished his argument.

ARGUMENT IS WAR

slide4

Your claims are indefensible.

  • He attacked every weak point in my argument.
  • His criticisms were right on target.
  • I demolished his argument.

ARGUMENT IS WAR

Linguistic metaphors

Conceptual metaphor

Elements from the domain of WAR are mapped onto the domains of ARGUMENT.

slide5

‘I can’t stomach that idea’

  • ‘Your theory’s half-baked’
  • ‘His story is pretty hard to swallow’
  • ‘That’s food for thought’

IDEAS ARE FOOD

slide6

Look how far we’ve come.

  • We’re at a crossroads.
  • We’ll just have to go our separate ways.
  • We can’t turn backnow.
  • I don’t think this relationship is going anywhere.
  • He’ll never let anyone get in his way.
  • She’ll go places in life.

LOVE IS A JOURNEY

conceptual metaphors
Conceptual Metaphors

LIFE IS A JOURNEY metaphor

JOURNEY = source domain

LIFE = target domain

Some mappings from source to target domain

The person living the life is a traveller.

Purposes are destinations.

Difficulties are obstacles on the journey.

Alternative life decisions are crossroads

slide8

Gibbs (1994): metaphor plays an important part in our everyday conceptual thought.

  • Metaphors are not some kind of distorted literal thought, but rather are basic schemes by which people conceptualise their experience and their external world.
conventional vs novel metaphors
Conventional vs novel metaphors

Linguistic level

LOVE IS A JOURNEY

Our relationship isn’t going anywhere / is off the track / is on the rocks (Conventional)

Vs.

We’re driving in the fast lane on the freeway of love (Novel)

conventional vs novel metaphors1
Conventional vs novel metaphors

Conceptual level

LOVE IS A JOURNEY(Conventional)

Vs.

LOVE IS A COLLABORATIVE WORK OF ART (Novel)

e.g. Our relationship is a beautiful mosaic we have made together

creativity in the use of metaphor
Creativity in the use of metaphor

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,I took the one less travelled by,And that has made all the difference

(Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken)

  • It is usually interpreted as dealing metaphorically with options for how to live life, and that the speaker chose to do things differently than most other people do.
  • The typical interpretation of Frost’s lines does not depend on the poet’s genius, but derives from the reader’s implicit knowledge about the conceptual metaphor LIFE IS A JOURNEY.
creativity in the use of metaphor1
Creativity in the use of metaphor

What the Chronics are – or most of us – are machines with flaws inside that can’t be repaired, flaws born in, or flaws beat in over so many years of the guy running head-on into solid things that by the time the hospital found him he was bleeding rust in some vacant lot.

(K. Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest)

creativity in the use of metaphor2
Creativity in the use of metaphor
  • Poetry abounds in image-based conceptual metaphors that are rich in imagistic detail but do not use image-schemas.

e.g. My wife . . . whose waist is an hourglass.

(A. Breton, ‘Free Union’)

  • Here we have two detailed images: one for the body of a woman, and one for an hourglass. The images are based on the shape of the two “objects.”
creativity in the use of metaphor3
Creativity in the use of metaphor

e.g. My wife . . . whose waist is an hourglass.

(A. Breton, ‘Free Union’)

  • According to the metaphor, we take the image of the detailed shape of the hourglass and map it onto the detailed shape of the woman’s body.
  • The words in the metaphor do not say anything about which part of the hourglass should be mapped onto which part of the woman’s body.
  • Yet we know exactly which part maps onto which on the basis of the common shape. This is what makes image metaphors conceptual as well, rather than simply linguistic.
understanding metaphors
Understanding Metaphors
  • Understanding figurative language involve inferencing.
  • Inferencing - a process of assigning a meaning to uses of language by making educated guesses based on evidence from the text and other sources.
the process of understanding metaphors
The process of understanding metaphors
  • First, we notice that the literal meaning cannot be true.
  • Second, we assume that the phrase must have a potentially true meaning and that we are required to invent or infer a non-literal meaning that is plausible for the sentence.
the process of understanding metaphors1
The process of understanding metaphors
  • Third, we set about trying to infer that plausible non-literal meaning.
    • Plausibility depends on a number of factors:
    • the meaning must be capable of being true,
    • it must fit with the rest of the text, and
    • it must have some relation to what is actually said – the non-literal meaning must have some relation to the literal meaning.)
tenor vehicle ground
Tenor, vehicle, ground
  • I.A. Richards - analysis of metaphor involves identifying the different components of metaphor – tenor, vehicle and ground.
  • The word or phrase in a sentence that cannot be taken literally in the context is called the vehicle.
  • The meaning that is implied, or referred to, by the vehicle is called the tenor.
  • To work out the ground of the metaphor we need to identify what vehicle and tenor have in common (their ‘common ground’) and filter out those aspects of the vehicle that do not relate to the tenor.
slide19

“The man is a lion”

Tenor = The man

Vehicle = Lion

Ground = the vehicle of the lion indicates that the tenor ('the man') possesses a quality or qualities that one associates with the lion, such as braveness (which is the traditional association in the English language), fierceness, having a voracious appetite, etc.

slide20

Tenor vs vehicle

  • source domain vs target domain
  • “The man is a lion”

PEOPLE ARE ANIMALS

classifying metaphors concretive animistic humanizing
Classifying metaphors: concretive, animistic, humanizing
  • Another important strategy for analysing and understanding a metaphor is to compare vehicle and tenor in order to identify what kind of transference of meaning goes on between them (Leech, 1969).
concretive metaphors
Concretive Metaphors
  • A concretive metaphor uses a concrete term to talk about an abstract thing.
  • Giving physical substance to abstractions
  • See pg. 92

e.g. ‘the burden of responsibility’

‘a vicious circle’

animistic metaphors
Animistic Metaphors
  • A term usually associated with animate things (living creatures) to talk about an inanimate thing.

e.g. ‘leg of a table’

‘stinging rain’

humanising anthropomorphic metaphors
Humanising / anthropomorphic metaphors
  • Sometimes called personification
  • A term usually associated with human beings to talk about a non-human thing.
  • e.g. ‘hands’ of a clock’

The kettle’s ‘sad song’

Humanizing metaphor is connected with the pathetic fallacy (the idea that the world reflects or participates in one’s emotions):

‘the kettle’s sad song’ might thus be used as a way of indicating a character’s mood by implicitly describing how he or she perceives the kettle’s sound.

the nightclubs are full of sharks
‘the nightclubs are full of sharks’
  • Given that it is unlikely that this will be true, we infer that the statement means that the men (and/or women) in the nightclubs behave in predatory ways like sharks.
  • In other words, human beings are metaphorically described as a kind of animal.
the dog flew at the intruder s throat
‘the dog flew at the intruder’s throat’
  • The dog’s action is described as if it were the action of a bird (hence we get an animal–animal transference).
extended metaphors
Extended metaphors
  • When a piece of language uses several vehicles from the same area of thought (or semantic field) it is called an extended metaphor.
  • A metaphor in which there is one primary subject and several other secondary objects used for comparison.
extended metaphors1
Extended metaphors

"All the world's a stage and men and women merely players. "(William Shakespeare's play - 'As you like it‘)

  • The world is described as a stage which is the primary entity and men and women are the subsidiary subjects who are a part of the stage. 
mixed metaphor
Mixed metaphor
  • A collection of metaphors which may not necessarily align well with each other.
  • Their usage is most of the time deliberate and spontaneous. Sometimes they add a comic punch to the statements.

"Driving down the dangerous terrains of Guatemala was nothing but playing with fire in the belly."

mixed metaphor1
Mixed metaphor
  • Books on ‘good style’ used to condemn the use of mixed metaphor (the combination of two or more metaphors whose vehicles come from different and incongruous areas or semantic fields) because they can have unintentionally ludicrous effects. For precisely this reason, corny jokes often exploit mixed metaphor.

"All at once he was alone in this noisy hive with no place to roost." (Tom Wolfe, The Bonfire of the Vanities)

“Milking the temporary workers for all they were worth, the manager barked orders at them.”

mixed metaphor2
Mixed metaphor

Expanding like the petals of young flowers

I watch the gentle opening of your minds,

And the sweet loosening of the spell that binds

Your intellectual energies and powers

That stretch (like young birds in soft summer hours)

Their wings to try their strength.

  • The effect of education on the pupils’ minds is figured as an expanding of flower petals, as an opening (a dead metaphor), as the release from a spell, and as the stretching of fledglings’ wings in order to get ready for first flight.
mixed metaphor3
Mixed metaphor

Expanding like the petals of young flowers

I watch the gentle opening of your minds,

And the sweet loosening of the spell that binds

Your intellectual energies and powers

That stretch (like young birds in soft summer hours)

Their wings to try their strength.

  • While these metaphors figure the pupils’ minds as flowers, as a box or room to be opened, as someone under a spell, and as young birds, all these metaphors have a ‘common ground’ that could be labelled as growth, release, flight or escape.