Metaphor Analysis: Research Practice in Applied Linguistics, Social Sciences and the Humanities

By Wu, Jinhua | International Journal of English Studies, January 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

Metaphor Analysis: Research Practice in Applied Linguistics, Social Sciences and the Humanities


Wu, Jinhua, International Journal of English Studies


Cameron, L., & Maslen, R. (Eds.). (2010). Metaphor Analysis: Research Practice in Applied Linguistics, Social Sciences and the Humanities. London: Equinox. 306 pages. 978-1845534479

This book is a thorough summary of the project named "Metaphor Analysis: Theoretical and Methodological Challenges in using Discourse Data", which was supported by the UK National Centre for Research Methods. There is also a parallel website from the Open University introducing the main research intention, theoretical background, as well as some empirical studies discussed in the book.

As is stated in the preface, the crucial point made in this book is that metaphor can be regarded not only as a "research object" but also a "research tool" (vii). The latter one has been explained in detail in the book, which is named by researchers as "metaphor-led discourse analysis" (vii). Some studies have been done by applying this method to analyse spoken data.

This book is a thorough summary of the project named "Metaphor Analysis: Theoretical and Methodological Challenges in using Discourse Data", which was supported by the UK National Centre for Research Methods. There is also a parallel website from the Open University introducing the main research intention, theoretical background, as well as some empirical studies discussed in the book.

As is stated in the preface, the crucial point made in this book is that metaphor can be regarded not only as a "research object" but also a "research tool" (vii). The latter one has been explained in detail in the book, which is named by researchers as "metaphor-led discourse analysis" (vii). Some studies have been done by applying this method to analyse spoken data.

This book contains four sections and one concluding part. There are 15 chapters altogether distributing unevenly into the five sections.

Section 1 and Section 2 deal with the motivation and theoretical approaches on metaphor analysis. Section 1 provides an overarching view on metaphor analysis, explains the powerfulness of metaphor being used as a tool to do discourse analysis with an empirical study done by Cameron who put forward the discourse dynamics approach to metaphor (cf. Cameron, 2003, 2007a; Cameron et al., 2009) which has been depicted in details in Section 2 Chapter 5. Meanwhile, some studies have been chosen to illustrate how metaphor analysis can be implemented in practice, comments on these studies are also provided with the purpose of providing some reference for the readers of the book to carry out their own research. Section 1 contains two chapters. Chapter 1 was contributed by Lynne Cameron, and Chapter 2 was co-written by Zazie Todd and Graham Low. Chapter 1 was written to argue that metaphor is crucial in human communication, understanding and conveying feelings. Therefore, metaphor-led discourse analysis has great potentiality and feasibility in doing discourse analysis. Cameron uses Burke's (1945) quotation to simply define metaphor. On the one hand, she points out the core of metaphor: using two different concepts to express one in terms of the other for better understanding. On the other hand, she puts forward the multidimensional nature of metaphor. In other words, a more adequate understanding on the phenomenon of metaphor needs to involve "linguistic, embodied, cognitive, affective, socio-cultural, dynamic" (p.1) considerations. To explain the linguistic aspect of metaphor in this book, Cameron first gives the working definitions of 'discourse' and 'discourse events'.

Discourse is termed as the "social interactions" (p.1) which involve the use of language, discourse events relate to the "specific instances" (p.1) of social interaction. Metaphor in discourse is the key concept used in the book both as a tool and as an object. The use of 'linguistic metaphors' captures "metaphors that are found in language use"(p.2), which is different from the notion of 'conceptual metaphor' in conceptual metaphor theory. …

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