The Cognitive Study of Metaphor and Its Application in English Language Teaching/L'ÉTUDE COGNITIVE DE LA MÉTAPHORE ET SON APPLICATION DANS L'ENSEIGNEMENT DE L'ANGLAIS

Article excerpt


Metaphor in cognitive linguistics is not only a rhetorical device, but an important mental facility and cognitive instrument. Metaphors provide people a new perspective of perceiving the world and the application of cognitive theories of metaphor creates a new field of research to English teaching. After a brief analysis of the cognitive view on metaphor, this paper mainly focuses on how to apply the cognitive theories of metaphor to English language teaching.

Key words: cognitive linguistics; metaphor; conceptual metaphor; English teaching

Résumé: La métaphore dans la linguistique cognitive n'est pas seulement une figure rhétorique, mais aussi un instrument mental important et un outil cognitif. Les métaphores offrent aux gens une nouvelle perspective du monde et l'application des théories cognitives de la métaphore créent un nouveau champ de recherche pour l'enseignement de l'anglais. Après une brève analyse de la vue cognitive sur la métaphore, le présent document se concentre principalement sur la façon d'appliquer les théories cognitives de la métaphore à l'enseignement de la langue anglaise.

Mots-clés: linguistique cognitive; métaphore; métaphore conceptuelle; enseignement de l'anglais

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Metaphor is a ubiquitous phenomenon in natural languages and has been studied by philosophers and linguists all along. From Aristotle in ancient Greek, people had already explored the mystery of metaphor from the angel of rhetoric and metaphor is viewed as a set of extraordinary figurative expressions. While at present, the study of metaphor hasn't been confined to the rhetoric field, but has extended to linguistics and cognitive psychology. And the study about metaphor has reached its most prosperous stage in the 1970s, which is known as a metaphormania or Metaphoric Revolution. In 1980, the publication of Lakoff and Johnson's Metaphor We Live By, symbolized the all-round beginning of metaphor study from a cognitive view. Metaphor is no longer regarded as a figure of speech, but a way of thought. From that time on, the cognitive approach to metaphor has grown into one of the most exciting fields of research in the social science. The study of metaphor has been so abound and so hot, people have become more and more aware of its significance. Scholars begin to realize that the study of metaphor can be connected with a lot of other subjects, that is, metaphor can be applied in a lot of other fields, such as linguistics, philosophy, pragmatics, semantics, psychology, literature criticism, translation, language teaching and so on. One of its significant practicabilities lies in its application in the field of language teaching.


Many scholars and linguists both at home and abroad all hold that the cognitive study of metaphor has set a good platform for language teaching and learning. Lin Shuwu (2002), in his article Studies on Metaphor: State of Arts, Focuses, and Trend, gives a comprehensive summary of the study of metaphor abroad as well as at home and induces seven themes of the contemporary studies on metaphor, ranging from the theoretical study to their application to language teaching. He points out that it is one of the seven trends of modern study of metaphor to employ the finding of metaphor in cognitive linguistics in language teaching. Actually many foreign scholars have done the researches in this regard. Kuse (1986) regards the correct understanding of metaphor as a very important reading skill; Cameron (1996) confirms that metaphor can help children's acquisition of languages and enrich their expressions; After many experiments Ortony (1984) states that the focus of metaphor study should be put on the exploration of the cognitive function of metaphor in language learning and teaching. Moreover, many other scholars (Danesi, 1988; Low, 1988; Littlemore, 2001) even put forward the concept of "metaphorical competence" or "metaphorical intelligence" and stress that "metaphorical competence" enjoys equal significance with "communicative competence" and "language competence" in language study and communication. …


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