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metaphors are prevalent in communication and we do not just use them in language; we

actually perceive and act in accordance with the metaphors.

There are two main roles for the conceptual domains posited in conceptual metaphors:

Source domain: the conceptual domain from which we draw metaphorical expressions (e.g.,

love is a journey).

Target domain: the conceptual domain that we try to understand (e.g., love is a journey).

A mapping is the systematic set of correspondences that exist between constituent elements of

the source and the target domain. Many elements of target concepts come from source

domains and are not preexisting. To know a conceptual metaphor is to know the set of

mappings that applies to a given source-target pairing. The same idea of mapping between

source and target is used to describe analogical reasoning and inferences.

A primary tenet of this theory is that metaphors are matter of thought and not merely of

language: hence, the term conceptual metaphor. The metaphor may seem to consist of words

or other linguistic expressions that come from the terminology of the more concrete conceptual

domain, but conceptual metaphors underlie a system of related metaphorical expressions that

appear on the linguistic surface. Similarly, the mappings of a conceptual metaphor are

themselves motivated by image schemas which are pre-linguistic schemas concerning space,

time, moving, controlling, and other core elements of embodied human experience.

Conceptual metaphors typically employ a more abstract concept as target and a more concrete

or physical concept as their source. For instance, metaphors such as 'the days [the more

abstract or target concept] ahead' or 'giving my time' rely on more concrete concepts, thus

expressing time as a path into physical space, or as a substance that can be handled and

offered as a gift. Different conceptual metaphors tend to be invoked when the speaker is trying

to make a case for a certain point of view or course of action. For instance, one might

associate "the days ahead" with leadership, whereas the phrase "giving my time" carries

stronger connotations of bargaining. Selection of such metaphors tends to be directed by a

subconscious or implicit habit in the mind of the person employing them.

The principle of unidirectionality states that the metaphorical process typically goes from the

more concrete to the more abstract, and not the other way around. Accordingly, abstract

concepts are understood in terms of prototype concrete processes. The term "concrete," in this

theory, has been further specified by Lakoff and Johnson as more closely related to the

developmental, physical neural, and interactive body (embodied philosophy, embodied realism,

experientialism).

Although Lakoff (1987) and Johnson (1987) developed the basic idea here in different ways

(see also Lakoff and Johnson 1999, Johnson 2007), the general flavor of the view they share

can be conveyed by considering a well-known example they discuss: that of love as a kind of

journey. Those in a romantic relationship are often said to head off together, travel the same

path, take wrong turns, retrace their steps, check their bearings, and pack their bags. For

Lakoff and Johnson, this non-literal language is not merely peripheral expression useful for

adding bells and whistles to the bustle of communication, but reflects something deep about

how love is conceptualized. Importantly, the central organizing metaphor—love is a journey—

involves a mapping from one domain (journeys) to another (love), where the source domain is

informed by our bodily physicality and the embodied experience that we have as creatures who

move through the world to achieve purposes and goals.

cross-cultural

As previously mentioned, one type of cross-cultural variation occurs when languages

differ with respect to the particular source that is conventionally mapped onto a common

target domain. In other words, a given conceptual metaphor may be common in one culture

but uncommon in another. Not all conceptual metaphors seem susceptible to this type of

variation, though. Following Grady(1997, 1999), we suggest dividing the set of conceptual

metaphors that have so far been identified by cognitive semanticists into two broad categories:

primary and complex metaphors. Many primary metaphors map image-schemas onto abstract

experience (e.g., Lakoff, 1990). Examples of image-schemas are UP-DOWN, IN-OUT, and

so on. These “bare” image-schemas are used to lend structure to abstract domains through

general conceptual metaphors like the following: “MORE IS UP; LESS IS DOWN” (e.g., “An IQ

of over 150,” “An income below the average”), and “THE BODY IS A CONTAINER FOR THE

EMOTIONS” (e.g., “She was filled with hatred,” “Don’t keep all that anger inside you”). These

metaphors are motivated by correlations in the domain of general physical experience. For

example, if you add objects to a pile, the pile will grow (hence MORE IS UP”). Because this

kind of general physical experience is universal, we would expect to find similar image-

schema-based conceptual metaphors in communities around the world. Other primary

metaphors, whose experiential grounding also seems universal, include cases like “STRONG

DESIRE IS HUNGER”(e.g., “We are hungry for a victory;” Grady, 1999, p. 85).

The second category of metaphors, however, is more likely to be susceptible to culture-specific

influences. These are more complex conceptual metaphors that combine (or compound)

different primary metaphors. For example, “THEORIES ARE BUILDINGS” (e.g., “Without a

solid foundation, your theory will soon collapse”) combines the primary metaphors

“ORGANIZATION IS PHYSICAL STRUCTURE” and “PERSISTING IS REMAINING ERECT”

(Grady, 1997).

Complex metaphors result in “richer” imagery. For example, although “LIFE IS A JOURNEY”

(e.g., “We’ll have to get round many obstacles to get married,” “The quest for love and

happiness”) is clearly based on the MOTION image schema, it can be “enriched” by specifying

the kind of vehicles involved, such as trains (e.g., “It’s about time you got back onto the right

track”), ships (e.g., “She’s been drifting without a real purpose in life”), cars (e.g. “He’s in the

fast lane to success”), and so on. “ABSTRACT COMPETITION IS RACING” (e.g., “Running for

president,” “Staying ahead of our economic competitors”) also belongs here, because the

metaphor imposes a richer scenario on the “bare” MOTION schema. Other examples of

complex metaphors are those that map our knowledge of man-made things onto abstract

domains: “THE MIND IS A COMPUTER”(e.g., “This amnesic patient processes input, but

cannot retrieve the data afterwards”), COMPETITION IS WARFARE” (e.g., “To

conquer market share”), and so on.

Unlike the general physical experience that underlies primary metaphors, complex experiential

domains are more likely to be culture-dependent and thus to vary from place to place. As a

result, such a particular domain may not be (equally) available for metaphorical mapping in all

cultures. It follows that cross-cultural variation is more likely to occur when metaphors of the

second category (i.e., complex metaphors) are involved. For example, one would not expect

an isolated community in the Andes to generate an abundance of sailing metaphors like

English (e.g., “She sailed through her exams,” “The government is being blown off

course”). Metaphors in this category are also subject to change over time, as new man-made

things appear or go out of fashion (e.g., Leary, 1990; Miller, 1995).

“THE MIND IS A COMPUTER,”for instance, is obviously a comparatively young metaphor.

The hypothesis that complex metaphors are more likely to be culture-dependent than primary

ones has already been corroborated by case studies. For example, although the image-

schema-based metaphor “THE BODY IS A CONTAINER FOR THE EMOTIONS” (e.g., “Rage was

building up inside her”) appears to be universal, important differences do arise by virtue of the

culture-specific imagery that is often added to the general image-schema. Some cultures show

a preference for “locating” particular emotions in specific parts of the container-like body. In

Hungarian, for example, the emotion of anger is commonly “located” in the head, whereas in

Japanese, anger can rise from the stomach via the chest to the head (Kövecses, 1995).

Western cultures seem to take it for granted that most so-called higher emotions are a matter

of the heart (e.g., “I’ve got a heavy heart,” “She’s broken my heart”), but in Malay these

associations are commonly made with the liver (Charteris-Black, 2002).

The culture-specific nature of certain figurative expressions may (initially) be a stumbling

block for foreign language learners. Still, learners may be helped by the observation that

those figurative expressions belong to a larger set that can be motivated by a single

conceptual metaphor (albeit a “foreign” one). For example, although some learners may

initially be puzzled by the Malay use of “liver” in a figurative idiom, they subsequently may be

helped by the recognition of the general “LIVER”metaphor that is instantiated in a wide range

of Malay idioms.

A variant of the first type of cross-cultural variation in conceptual metaphors occurs when

two languages display the same source-target mapping, but with markedly different

degrees of productivity or conventionality (e.g., Emanatian, 1995). For example, although

sport metaphors abound, cultures differ with respect to the kinds of sport that are especially

popular. Baseball, for instance, is evidently more popular in the United States than in Europe,

and consequently American English is likely to produce more baseball-based figurative

expressions (e.g., “I had a date with Helen last night, but I couldn’t even get to first base

with her,” “Three strikes and you’re out”). One of the ways in which this type of variation can

be detected is through comparative corpus-based quantitative research, that is, through

counting the frequency of occurrence of a metaphor and the diversity of its figurative

expressions (e.g., Boers & Demecheleer, 1997; Deignan, 1999).

Such subtle variations in the productivity of shared metaphors may seem trivial at first, but

there is some evidence to suggest that they do have an impact on learners’ comprehension of

L2 figurative idioms. For example, French-speaking learners of English seem to find it harder

to “guess” the meaning of English idioms derived from the domain of sailing than of (Boers &

Demecheleer, 2001). In addition, the high frequency and diversity of a particular metaphor

can sometimes be taken as a reflection of a country’s history (e.g., the comparatively high

number of sailing metaphors in British English) or even its national stereotypes (e.g., the

relatively high number of gardening metaphors in British English; Boers, 1999). In such cases,

awareness of metaphor might even serve as a window onto a community’s “culture.”

Although the connection between metaphor and culture is an intricate one (e.g., Kövecses,

1999; Palmer, 1996), variation in metaphor usage could also be studied with a view to finding

(indirect) evidence of linguistic relativity (e.g., Niemeier & Dirven, 2000), in the sense that a

community’s figurative language could be considered as a reflection of that community’s

conventional patterns of thought or world views (e.g., Lakoff, 1987, p. 295; Palmer, 1996, p.

222–245). A warning note about this approach is sounded in this issue by Deignan who

cautions us to interpret metaphor in language mostly as a diachronic reflection of culture

rather than a synchronic one.

In her article, Deignan uses corpus linguistics to compare the relative degrees of productivity

of a number of source domains of metaphor across various languages. Although her corpus

evidence suggests that there is variation in metaphor usage across the different languages,

she also cautions that this should not automatically be taken as evidence of present cultural

differences. A lot of figurative expressions may “merely” be reliquaries of a community’s past

culture.

Nevertheless, she supports the view that historical perspectives on figurative expressions as

well as other systematic analyses of figurative language are beneficial to the foreign language

learner. Even a partial and indirect culture-metaphor connection would support arguments to

include “cultural awareness” objectives in the foreign language curriculum (e.g., Byram,

1997; Byram, Nichols, & Stevens,2001; Kramsch, 1993).

Metaphor should be seen as a phenomenon with multiple functions at multiple levels

The basic assumption directing this paper could very well be summarized by the statement

found in Honeck, Voegtle, Dorfmueller & Hoffman (1980:148), “Metaphors are rarely

encountered outside of text or conversation”. In other words, what a human person interprets

is not a sentence or an utterance but rather, a text, i.e. piece of oral or written discourse.

Cognizing occurs essentially only by way of a textual encounter. Therefore, conceptualization

does not exist independently of the text. Conceptualizations are the result of the contact

between the mind or minds of individuals and the discourses or texts of communities or social

formations. Perhaps we could say that conceptualizations are the result of the contact

between the discourse(s) of one or more minds with the discourse(s) of one or more other

minds in specific cultural formations and more importantly perhaps, in spatially and temporally

bound communicative moments.

as far as equivalence or strong similarity is concerned, it is doubtful that this condition is

constant across all dimensions or all instances. Rather, we can hypothesize that the situation of


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Corso di laurea: Corso di laurea in lingue nella società dell'informazione
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A.A.: 2016-2017

I contenuti di questa pagina costituiscono rielaborazioni personali del Publisher sensep di informazioni apprese con la frequenza delle lezioni di Lingua inglese e studio autonomo di eventuali libri di riferimento in preparazione dell'esame finale o della tesi. Non devono intendersi come materiale ufficiale dell'università Tor Vergata - Uniroma2 o del prof Ponterotto Diana.

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