6

THE SIGNALLING OF METAPHOR

6.1. INTRODUCTION
The first five chapters of this book discussed the distinction between metaphorical and literal language, and explored the interpretative and functional varieties of metaphor. The remainder of the book considers the contribution of co-text (Chapters 6-9) and social context (Chapter 10) to metaphorical interpretation. We need this contribution to help interpretation because metaphor is a risky communicative strategy, not always easily interpretable. Eric Cantona, the Manchester United footballer, after being sentenced for attacking a Crystal Palace fan, uttered this gnomic statement:
(1) When the seagulls follow the trawlers it’s because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea.

Though recognized as metaphor, the reporters who he was talking to were not sure what it meant, because Cantona gave no textual guidance for interpretation. (“The seagulls” may, of course, have been referring to them!)

We can start with a simple model of metaphorical production and interpretation as in Table 6.1. Stages (III), (IV) and (V) in this model highlight the interpretative problems of ensuring: that the reader recognizes that ‘A’ is not referring conventionally, literally (III); 1 that the writer’s intended referent, b, corresponds to the reader’s postulated referent, c (IV); and that

Table 6.1 Stages in metaphorical processing

Writer

Reader

I

Perceives or creates a resemblance between entities a and b on the basis of feature(s) x

II

Forms text using “A” to refer to b

III

Realizes that “A” is not referring to a

IV

Thinks “A” is referring to c

V

Postulates a resemblance between a and c on the basis of features y

-168-

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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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