Mahsa

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The Contemporary Theory of Metaphor
George Lakoff
1993
Reading Through the Decades Seminar
Mahsa Vafaie
Language and Communication Technologies
University of Saarland
Fog as cat?
The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.
"The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"
metaphor noun met·a·phor \ˈme-tə-ˌfȯr also -fər\
• Instances of novel poetic language in which words are used outside of
their normal everyday senses to express a similar concept
• A figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one
kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness
or
analogy
between
them
(as
in
drowning
in
money); broadly : figurative language — compare SIMILE (MERRIAMWEBSTER DICTIONARY)
• a way of describing something by referring to it as something different
and suggesting that it has similar qualities to that thing (Longman Dictionary
of Contemporary English)
Research question
• What are the generalizations governing the linguistic expressions
referred to classically as poetic metaphors?
• The generalizations governing poetic metaphorical expressions are not
in language, but in thought: They are general mappings across
conceptual domains. These general principles apply not just to novel
poetic expressions, but to much of ordinary everyday language.
• Everyday metaphor is characterized by a huge system of thousands of
cross-domain mappings, and this system is made use of in novel
metaphor.
Revision
• Metaphor: A cross-domain mapping in the conceptual system
• Metaphorical expression: a linguistic expression that is the realization
of such a cross-domain mapping
The Conduit Metaphor by Reddy
• The locus of metaphor is thought, not language.
• Metaphor is a major and indispensable part of our ordinary,
conventional way of conceptualizing the world.
• Our everyday behavior reflects our metaphorical understanding of
experience.
Literal: Traditional false assumptions on the word
prior to Reddy’s work
• All everyday conventional language is literal, and none is metaphorical.
• All subject matter can be comprehended literally, without metaphor.
• Only literal language can be contingently true or false.
• All definitions given in the lexicon of a language are literal, not
metaphorical.
• The concepts used in the grammar of a language are all literal; none are
metaphorical.
The novel literal-metaphorical distinction
• Those concepts that are not comprehended via conceptual metaphor
might be called literal.
The balloon went up.
The cat is on the mat.
• Metaphorical understanding is the norm when talking about
abstraction and emotions.
The evidence for the contemporary theory
1- Generalizations governing polysemy
2- Generalizations governing inference patterns
3- Generalizations governing novel metaphorical language
4- Generalizations governing patterns of semantic change
5- Psycholinguistic experiments
Conceptual Metaphor
• Our relationship has hit a dead-end street. Look how far we’ve come.
The relationship isn’t going anywhere. It’s been a long, bumpy road.
Source domain → Target domain
Journey
Love
travelers → lovers
destinations → goals
vehicle → relationship
impediments → difficulties
Conceptual Metaphor
r
TARGET-DOMAIN IS SOURCE-DOMAIN
TARGET-DOMAIN AS SOURCE-DOMAIN
Conceptual Metaphor
• LOVE IS A JOURNEY: a mnemonic for a set of ontological
correspondences that characterize a mapping, not to be confused with
the mapping itself.
• Metaphors are mappings, i.e., sets of conceptual correspondences , and
not propositions.
• Such correspondences permit us to reason about love using the
knowledge we use to reason about journeys.
Inference pattern: source domain
• TRAVELERS can try to get the VEHICLE moving again, either by fixing it
or getting it past the IMPEDIMENT that stopped it.
• They can remain in the nonfunctional VEHICLE and give up on
REACHING THEIR DESTINATIONS.
• They can abandon the VEHICLE.
• The alternative of remaining in the nonfunctional VEHICLE takes the least
effort, but does not satisfy the desire to REACH THEIR DESTINATIONS.
Inference pattern: target domain
• LOVERS can try to get the RELATIONSHIP moving again, either by fixing
it or getting it past the DIFFICULTY.
• They can remain in the nonfunctional RELATIONSHIP, and give up on
ACHIEVING THEIR LIFE GOALS.
• They can abandon the RELATIONSHIP.
• The alternative of remaining in the nonfunctional RELATIONSHIP takes
the least effort, but does not satisfy the desire to ACHIEVE LIFE GOALS.
Metaphors are not mere words.
• The metaphor is not just a matter of language, but of thought and
reason. The language is secondary.
• The mapping is conventional, a fixed part of our conceptual system.
• There might be many different linguistic expressions for realization of
a single metaphor such as LOVE IS A JOURNEY.
Back to the evidence
LOVE IS A JOURNEY
• Why are words for travel used to describe love relationships?
Polysemy generalization: A generalization over related senses of
linguistic expressions, e.g., dead-end street, crossroads, stuck, spinning
one’s wheels, not going anywhere, and so on.
• Why are inference patterns used to reason about travel also used to
reason about love relationships.
Inferential generalization: A generalization over inferences across
different conceptual domains.
Novel extensions of conventional metaphors
• new and imaginative uses of the mapping can be understood instantly,
since the mapping is a fixed part of our conceptual system.
We’re driving in the fast lane on the freeway of love.
• Each mappings should be seen as a fixed pattern of ontological
correspondences across domains that may, or may not, be applied to a
source domain knowledge structure or a source domain lexical item.
Imageable Idioms
Imageable idioms
• Classical view: idioms have arbitrary meaning
• Cognitive linguistics: idioms arise automatically by productive rules,
but they fit into one or more patterns present in the conceptual system.
Mappings are at the superordinate level
• Mappings are at the superordinate (VEHICLE) rather than the basic
(CAR) level.
LOVE RELATIONSHIP IS A VEHICLE.
Car (long bumpy road, spinning our wheels)
Plane (just taking off, bailing out)
Train (off the track)
Boat (on the rocks, foundering)
Metaphorical Basic Semantic Concepts
• Categories:
CLASSICAL CATEGORIES ARE CONTAINERS
Bounded regions/ containers
Inheritance of logical properties
• Quantity and Linear Scales:
MORE IS UP, LESS IS DOWN.
LINEAR SCALES ARE PATHS.
The logic of paths maps onto the logic of linear scales.
The Invariance Principle
• Metaphorical mappings preserve the cognitive topology (that is,
the image-schema structure) of the source domain, in a way
consistent with the inherent structure of the target domain.
• The image-schematic structure of the target domain cannot be
violated. Thus, the inherent target domain structure limits the
possibilities for mappings automatically.
ACTIONS ARE TRANSFERS.
• you can give someone a kick and they don’t have it afterwards.
Abstract inferences as metaphorical spatial inferences
The Invariance Principle raises the possibility that a great many, if not
all, abstract inferences are actually metaphorical versions of spatial
inferences that are inherent in the topological structure of imageschemas.
Metaphorical Basic Semantic Concepts
• Time in terms of space:
Times are things.
The passing of time is motion.
Future times are in front of the observer; past times are behind the
observer.
One thing is moving, the other is stationary; the stationary entity is the
deictic center. (location/object)
Duality
• There are also other metaphors with location-object pairing.
• Such pairs are called duals, and the general phenomenon in which
metaphors come in location-object pairs is referred to as duality.
Simultaneous mapping
Within the coming weeks
• Within : TIME AS A STATIONARY LANDSCAPE
• Coming: TIMES AS MOVING OBJECTS
Event Structure metaphor
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
States are locations (bounded regions in space).
Changes are movements (into or out of bounded regions).
Causes are forces.
Actions are self-propelled movements.
Purposes are destinations.
Means are paths (to destinations).
Difficulties are impediments to motion.
Expected progress is a travel schedule; a schedule is a virtual traveler, who
reaches pre-arranged destinations at pre-arranged times.
• External events are large, moving objects.
• Long term, purposeful activities are journeys.
Basic entailments
• Manner of action is manner of motion:
We are moving right along.
• A different means for achieving a purpose is a different path:
She did it the other way.
• Speed of action is speed of motion:
He flew through his work.
• Progress made is distance traveled or distance from goal:
We’ve made it this far.
Inheritance Hierarchies
Metaphorical mappings do not occur isolated from one another. They
are sometimes organized in hierarchical structures, in which ‘lower’
mappings in the hierarchy inherit the structures of the ‘higher’
mappings.
Level 1: The Event Structure Metaphor
Level 2: A PURPOSEUFL LIFE IS JOURNEY
Level 3: LOVE IS A JOURNEY
A PURPOSEFUL LIFE IS A JOURNEY
• Target Domain: Life
• Source Domain: Space
• The person leading a life is a traveler.
• Inherits Event Structure Metaphor, with:
Events = Significant Life Events
Purposes = Life Goals
I’m where I want to be in life. I’m at a crossroads in my life. He’ll go
places in life. He’s never let anyone get in his way. He’s gone through a
lot in life.
LOVE IS A JOURNEY
• Target Domain: Love
• Source Domain: Space
• The lovers are travelers.
• The love relationship is a vehicle.
• Inherits the LIFE IS A JOURNEY metaphor.
Duality in the Event Structure System
• The object-dual of the event structure system: a system based on
objects rather than locations.
• CHANGE IS MOTION: the motion of an object to, or away from, the
thing-changing.
• The object in motion: possession
• The thing-changing: possessor
• Change: acquisition or loss of an object
• CAUSES ARE FORCES: giving or taking
I got a headache.
The noise gave me a headache.
Object-version of The Event Structure Metaphor
• Attributes are possessions
• Changes are movements (of possessions, namely, acquisitions or
losses)
• Causes are forces (controlling the movement of possessions, namely,
giving or taking away)
• ACTIONS ARE SELF-CONTROLLED ACQUISITIONS OR
LOSSES.
• PURPOSES ARE DESIRED OBJECTS.
• ACHIEVING A PURPOSE IS ACQUIRING A DESIRED OBJECT.
LIFE IS A BUSINESS
He has a rich life.
It’s time to take stock of my life.
It’s an enriching experience.
LOVE IS A PARTNERSHIP
Lovers as partners
Marriage contracts
The Invariance Principle: consequence
Abstract reasoning is a special case of imaged-based reasoning. Imagebased reasoning is fundamental and abstract reasoning is image-based
reasoning under metaphorical projections to abstract domains.
Image metaphors
My wife . . . whose waist is an hourglass
• ‘One-shot’ metaphors, which map one conventional image onto
another.
• Mapping the structure of one domain onto the structure of another
• Domains: conventional mental images
• Such mappings of one image onto another can lead us to map
knowledge about the first image onto knowledge about the second.
Image metaphors
• What constrains the mappings?
• What kind of internal structures do mental images have that permit
some mappings to work readily, others only with effort, and others not
at all?
The Invariance Principle: image-metaphors preserve image-schematic
structure, mapping parts onto parts and wholes onto wholes, containers
onto containers, paths onto paths, and so on
Personifications
• Death  drivers, coachmen, devourers, destroyers
Why not a teacher or a carpenter?
• Events: actions by some agent, and the agent is personified
EVENTS ARE ACTIONS
DEATH IS DEPARTURE
• Departure -> event -> causal agent -> drivers, coachmen, etc.
• Generic level structure: The overall event shape of the target domain
limits the applicability of the metaphor. What is preserved across the
mapping is the causal structure, the aspectual structure, and the
persistence of entities.
Proverbs
The knowledge structure of “Blind blames the ditch”:
• There is a person with an incapacity, (namely, blindness).
• He encounters a situation, (namely a ditch,) in which his incapacity,
(namely his inability to see the ditch,) results in a negative
consequence, (namely, his falling into the ditch).
• He blames the situation, rather than his own incapacity.
• He should have held himself responsible, not the situation.
the class of possible ways of filling in the generic-level schema of the
proverb corresponds to the class of possible interpretations of the
proverb.
Analogy
“Gary Hart was like a blind man who fell into a ditch and blamed the
ditch.”
• a knowledge schema for the blind man and the ditch
• a knowledge schema concerning Gary Hart
• GENERIC IS SPECIFIC metaphor
Novel metaphors
• Extensions of conventional metaphors
• Generic-level metaphors
• Image-metaphors
Dante: “In the middle of life’s road I found myself in a dark wood.”
LIFE IS A JOURNEY.
KNOWING IS SEEING.
The Experiential Basis of Metaphor
• Is there any reason why conceptual systems contain one set of
metaphorical mappings rather than another?
MORE IS UP in many languages because it is grounded in experience.
A PURPOSEFUL LIFE IS A JPURNEY inherits the experiential basis
of PURPOSES ARE DESTINATIONS.
Realizations of metaphor
METAPHOR PRIMING IN SENTENCE PRODUCTION
CONCRETE PICTURES AFFECT ABSTRACT LANGUAGE PRODUCTION
Manami Sato, Amy J. Schafer, and Benjamin K. Bergen
Language and Communication Technologies
University of Saarland
RESEARCH QUESTION
When we speak about abstract concepts concretely,
are we also thinking about them concretely?
LANGUAGE PRODUCTION MODELS
Message formulation
Phonological
encoding
Grammatical
encoding
Does the activation of concrete domain concepts influence
the conceptualization phase of message formulation?
EXPERIMENT
SEQUENCE OF 2 PICTURES
CONTAINMENT or POSSESSION or
NEUTRAL
LINGUISTIC PROMPT
a PERSON’S NAME and an ABSTRACT WORD
trouble”)
SENTENCE PRODUCTION
Activating a concrete source domain
(CONTAINMENT or POSSESSION) increase the
number of compatible metaphorical
utterances ?
(e.g., “Sally,
CONTAINMENT
Bounded regions in space
Change of location with respect to a container
Containment itself
Examples
Bottom, top, and sides
Get in trouble or get out of trouble
Be in love
POSSESSION
Possession of objects
Acquisition or loss of objects
Searching for objects
Giving
Receiving
Taking away objects
Examples
Give him more trouble
Steal her love,
Bring some questions
The passion is gone
PICTURE MATERIAL
180 Pictures
60 Critical pictures
20 Containment
20 Possession
20 Neutral
120 Additional neutral as fillers
• A norming study verified each of the 60 critical
pictures
WORD MATERIAL
British National Corpus
Each word
500 sentences from written language components the corpus
500 sentences from spoken language components novels, journals, etc.
Ratio of POSSESSION to CONTAINMENT utterances
1.11:1
EXPERIMENT
Click to begin
1200 ms …
500 ms …
1200 ms …
500 ms …
Sally
Trouble
1200
1500 ms …
500 ms …
Sally
Trouble
1200
1500 ms …
500 ms …
Type a simple sentence using the two words
Containment
Type a simple sentence using the two words
Sally’s life is full of trouble.
EXAMPLES
Sally’s life is full of trouble
CONTAINMENT
Sally had trouble with her family
POSSESSION
Sally is troubled with a headache
NEUTRAL
3 Practice
Trials
30 Critical
Trials
60 Filler
Trials
90
Experimental
Trials
30 Critical
Trials
The two
pictures
Same type of concept
Containment
Possession
Neutral
RESULTS
30 subjects
900 Critical responses
EXPLORATORY ANALYSIS OF THE ROLE OF LEXICAL PRIMING
• picture primes affect the use of metaphorical
language in subsequently produced sentences.
• Metaphor priming vs. Lexical priming
• Linguistic encoding of the picture primes : in
• the alternative explanation is unlikely for 5 reasons :
UNLIKELINESS OF LEXICAL PRIMING
• the alternative explanation is unlikely for 5 reasons:
1- no prompts for linguistic encoding
2- the descriptions seem more likely to be nouns than
prepositions
3- images were thematically unrelated to the
subsequent words
4- implicit naming is not an automatic consequence
of picture viewing
5- previous work investigating concrete source
activation on metaphor comprehension did not find
any evidence that potential lexical activation for
concrete primes facilitated comprehension times for
related metaphorical stimuli
POST HOC ANALYSIS
• Is linguistic priming responsible for the observed effects?
• Relational terms in picture descriptions from the 10 participants
in the norming study:
- CONTAINMENT: in, inside, full (of), and filled (with)
- POSESSION: have, hold, with, carry, pick, grab, and drag
• The subset of responses with potentially primed words included
102 CONTAINMENT responses and 234 POSSESSION
responses (across the three conditions).
• The set without those words included only 21 CONTAINMENT
responses, but 112 POSSESSION responses
RESULTS
• the significant effect of picture type remained even after
we recoded responses using words that could potentially
have been used to describe the priming images, and could
therefore potentially be explained by lexical priming.
• Alternative hypothesis: participants first linguistically
encoded relations in the pictures, which then activated
other associated relational words through links unrelated
to the relevant conceptual domains
• at least some degree of conceptual activation is part of
the metaphor priming effect.
DISCUSSION
• For both Containment and Possession picture primes, the
number of domain-related metaphorical sentences increased
compared to the Neutral condition.
• even after excluding responses using words that could have
described the preceding pictures.
• conceptual metaphor is an active component of linguistic
cognition
• Further research will be necessary to see if more subtle
manipulations, such a design with just a single picture prime,
would elicit similar results. source domain activation via
non-pictorial means, and more natural speech situations
DISCUSSION
• the use of sensory-motor systems
• Viewing an image of containment or
• possession may activate sensory resources that are also
involved in selection of an appropriate metaphorical mapping
for a given target domain.
• Mechanisms of speech production
• When concepts that are not components of the message (like
containment or possession) are activated, they can influence
subsequent speech production.
• a message can be unintentionally framed by the activation
state of otherwise irrelevant parts of the cognitive system.
ANY QUESTIONS
THANKS FOR YOUR ATTENTION
Language and Communication Technologies
University of Saarland
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