4

HOW DIFFERENT KINDS OF METAPHORS WORK

4.1. INTRODUCTION

This chapter elaborates and discusses a detailed definition/description of metaphor, showing seven different kinds of interpretation (section 4.2). It goes on to survey traditional theories of metaphorical interpretation, and concludes that metaphor is best conceived as an invitation to make comparisons (section 4.3). This being the case Similarity and Analogy are important factors and they are defined and exemplified (section 4.4). Finally it delineates less central kinds of metaphorical interpretation associated with literary and artistic representation (section 4.5), such as Subjective and Asymmetric metaphors, and discusses the concept of metaphorical worlds. These phenomena, which cannot be ignored when analysing metaphors in real texts, have a strong enough family resemblance to central kinds of metaphor to be subsumed under our definition.


4.1.1. Conventionality as a cline

In the first three chapters we demonstrated that the distinction between metaphorical and literal language is not clear-cut: the same processes of matching necessary for literal utterances come into play in the understanding of metaphorical utterances; and repeated metaphors provide us with cognitive furniture and become absorbed by word-formation and other Lexicalization processes into the dictionary.

How does this affect our working definition of metaphor? It means, of course, that we have to consider the adjective “conventional” as a scalar and relative one. It is possible for a use of a lexical item to be more or less conventional than another use. Thus with Tired metaphors such as fox interpreted as meaning ‘cunning person’, although this interpretation is conventional it can be regarded as less conventional than the interpretation ‘dog-like mammal’. Unfortunately this distinction may prove to be too easy: conventions of language are not simply a matter of vocabulary use in some kind of decontextualized vacuum, but may be established by the

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The Language of Metaphors
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations ix
  • Tables x
  • Acknowledgements xi
  • Abbreviations xv
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Metaphorical and Literal Language 14
  • 2 - Metaphor and the Dictionary 41
  • 3 - Metaphor and the Dictionary 82
  • 4 - How Different Kinds of Metaphors Work 107
  • 5 - Relevance Theory and the Functions of Metaphor 137
  • 6 - The Signalling of Metaphor 168
  • 7 - The Specification of Topics 198
  • 8 - The Specification of Grounds 229
  • 9 - The Interplay of Metaphors 255
  • 10 - Metaphor in Its Social Context 283
  • Notes 329
  • References 335
  • Texts Used for Examples and Analysis (and Abbreviations Used in References) 342
  • Index 347
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