Academic journal article Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

'Corruption Is Dirt': Metaphors for Political Corruption in the Spanish Press

Academic journal article Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

'Corruption Is Dirt': Metaphors for Political Corruption in the Spanish Press

Article excerpt

The last decades have witnessed a mounting interest in metaphor. The development of Conceptual Metaphor Theory (Johnson 1987; Lakoff 1987, 2006; Lakoff and Turner, 1989; Lakoff and Johnson 1980, 1999; Gibbs 1994; Kövecses 2000, 2002, 2005; Dirven and Ruiz de Mendoza, 2010; Steen 2011; cf. Ruiz de Mendoza and Pérez 2011 for assessment on the later versions) has led to vast research into metaphor from both a theoretical and an applied perspective. More recently, a corpus-oriented approach to metaphor has been put forward (Cameron 1999; Charteris-Black 2004; Deignan 2005, 2008) to analyse metaphor in actual discourse, including specialized genres like politics (Musolff 2004), advertising (2004a and b; Velasco-Sacristán and Fuertes-Olivera 2004, 2006), economics (White 2003; White and Herrera 2003, 2009; Herrera et al. 2006; Herrera 2008; Cortés de los Ríos 2010; Rojo and Orts 2010), architecture (Caballero 2006), and winespeak (Caballero 2009; Caballero and Suárez-Toste 2008, 2010). Corpus-based studies of metaphor lay the emphasis on authentic data and empirical verification of theoretical claims in the field of metaphor research (Stefanowitsch and Gries 2006). In this light, Stefanowitsch (2006: 6-7) argues that corpus-based investigations of metaphor provide an insight into the nature and importance of particular conceptual mappings, the structural properties of expressions instantiating conceptual mappings, and the textual and conceptual properties of metaphor and metonymy.

In the cognitive view, metaphor occupies a central role in our conceptual structure. Rather than being a simply aesthetic literary phenomenon, it is conceived as a primarily cognitive device structuring human thought and action. Conceptual Metaphor Theory is based on the following principles (Lakoff 2006):

* Metaphor is primarily a cognitive mechanism.

* Metaphor involves understanding a domain of experience (the target domain) in terms of a more concrete domain (the source domain).

* A metaphor is to be regarded as a mapping (i.e. a fixed set of conceptual correspondences) between a source domain and a target domain, where one or more features of the source are projected upon the target. As Lakoff (2006: 192) remarks, a metaphor is 'an ontological mapping across conceptual domains' so that 'the essence of meaning is understanding and experiencing one kind of thing in terms of another' (Lakoff and Johnson 1980: 5).

* Any linguistic metaphor, or metaphoric expression, is an instantiation of a conceptual metaphor.

Although Lakoff and Johnson (1980) claim that metaphors are grounded on physical, bodily experience, recent research has shown that some metaphors cannot be traced back to experiential experiences, but rather are based on the perceived similarities or resemblances, i.e. the perception of common characteristics or structures between entities or areas of experience (Semino 2008: 7). The corruption metaphors discussed in this paper belong into the latter category. In line with this, the perceived similarities between corruption and other conceptual domains draw from various source domains: entities, substances, diseases and natural disasters.

Recent developments in Conceptual Metaphor Theory have led to more explanatory accounts of metaphor. Thus, Steen (2011), starting from the assumption that the cognitive linguistics framework is too narrow to address a number of key issues about metaphor, postulates a three-dimensional model of metaphor that encompasses the conceptual, linguistic and communicative dimensions of metaphor, as well as the three approaches of linguistic, psychological and social analysis. In other words, metaphor is a matter of language, thought and communication. Steen calls this interdisciplinary framework of the new contemporary theory of metaphor 'discourse-analytical' (2011: 41).

The social dimension of metaphor has been highlighted by a number of scholars who have examined the relationship between metaphor, language and thought across situations of use and groups of people (see, for example, Charteris-Black 2004; Koller 2004; Semino 2008; Musolff and Zinken 2009). …

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