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1he conLemporary Lheory of meLaphor-now new and lmproved!


Cerard SLeen, vu unlverslLy AmsLerdam

1. lnLroducLlon
1he LlLle of Lhls arLlcle ls a playful alluslon Lo Lakoff's (1993) '1he conLemporary Lheory of meLaphor'.
lL ls noL meanL Lo be dlsrespecLful. Cn Lhe conLrary, Lakoff has made an essenLlal conLrlbuLlon Lo
presenL-day meLaphor research. 8uL hls approach ls noL ldenLlcal wlLh 'Lhe' conLemporary Lheory of
meLaphor. 1here are oLher sellers on Lhe markeL. And, Lo change meLaphors, Lhe game of meLaphor
research could do wlLh some serlous fun, Loo. Pence my own LlLle.
unLll Lhe laLe sevenLles, meLaphor was commonly seen as a maLLer of language and rheLorlc. 1hls
changed wlLh CrLony's (1979) lmporLanL edlLed volume, Metopbot ooJ tbooqbt, marklng a shlfL LhaL
has also been labeled as 'Lhe cognlLlve Lurn': meLaphor was Lurnlng lnLo a maLLer of LhoughL.
CrLony's edlLlon seL Lhe scene ln lmporLanL respecLs for Lhe year afLer, when Lakoff and !ohnson
(1980) publlshed Lhelr equally revoluLlonary Metopbots we llve by. When a second, revlsed edlLlon of
Metopbot ooJ tbooqbt was publlshed fourLeen years laLer (CrLony, 1993), lL naLurally lncluded a new
chapLer by Ceorge Lakoff (1993), whlch represenLs one of Lhe maln reasons why a second, revlsed
edlLlon was needed.
Lakoff (1993) skeLched ouL Lhe cognlLlve-llngulsLlc approach Lo meLaphor LhaL had been developed
slnce Lakoff and !ohnson (1980) and, ln Lhe process, was bold enough Lo clalm much of Lhe
lnLellecLual credlL for Lhe cognlLlve Lurn: Lhe deflnlLe arLlcle ln Lhe LlLle of Lhe plece does have cerLaln
lnLended lmpllcaLlons. WheLher LhaL clalm Lo fame ls leglLlmaLe ls a mooL polnL, buL lL does offer a

1hls ls a prepubllcaLlon whlch ls under revlew for kevlew of coqoltlve lloqolstlcs (2010).
1he auLhor graLefully acknowledges Lhe flnanclal supporL of Lhls research by nWC, Lhe neLherlands
CrganlzaLlon for SclenLlflc 8esearch, vlcl granL 277-30-001, 'MeLaphor ln dlscourse: LlngulsLlc forms, concepLual
sLrucLures, cognlLlve represenLaLlons'. l am also exLremely graLeful for Lhe helpful commenLs by 8rlan 8owdle,
!oep Cornellssen, 8ay Clbbs, and kelLh CaLley. lease send correspondence Lo g[.sLeen[

convenlenL and naLural polnL of aLLracLlon for Lhe presenL argumenL, ln whlch l wlll challenge Lhe
adequacy of Lhe cognlLlve-llngulsLlc approach as 'Lhe' conLemporary Lheory of meLaphor. lnsLead, l
wlll argue, we need a new and lmproved conLemporary Lheory of meLaphor. lL wlll lnclude a number
of Lhe assumpLlons and flndlngs of Lhe old conLemporary Lheory, buL lL wlll also slLuaLe Lhem ln a
more encompasslng LheoreLlcal framework, and requlre an ad[usLmenL of Lhe predlcLlon of Lhe
overall prevalence and lmporLance of meLaphor ln LhoughL.
1he new conLemporary Lheory of meLaphor offers an lmproved paradlgm for research ln whlch old
answers recelve new lnLerpreLaLlons and novel quesLlons can be posed. 1he cognlLlve-llngulsLlc
framework ls Loo llmlLed for addresslng a number of cruclal lssues abouL meLaphor, for whlch a more
encompasslng lnLerdlsclpllnary approach ls requlred. MeLaphor ls noL [usL a maLLer of language and
LhoughL, buL also of communlcaLlon, and meLaphor cannoL [usL be approached from a llngulsLlc (or
more generally, semloLlc) as well as a cognlLlve (or beLLer, psychologlcal) perspecLlve, buL lL also
demands a soclal approach. lf new research flndlngs are comblned wlLh each oLher ln Lhls more
encompasslng framework, lL can be argued LhaL meLaphor ln LhoughL may be much less frequenL
Lhan has been predlcLed by Lhe old conLemporary Lheory of meLaphor. 1hls ls noL because meLaphor
ls noL lmporLanL, buL because lL works lLs wonder noL [usL or malnly ln LhoughL, buL also ln language
and ln communlcaLlon. lL ls Lhe maln Lask of Lhe new conLemporary Lheory Lo esLabllsh Lhe
lnLeracLlon beLween Lhese Lhree dlmenslons of meLaphor and Lo polnL Lhe way Lo dolng Lhe relevanL
emplrlcal research.

2. roblems wlLh Lakoff's conLemporary Lheory of meLaphor
2.1 lrom meLaphor ln language Lo meLaphor ln LhoughL
1he old conLemporary Lheory of meLaphor was formulaLed by Lakoff (1993) on Lhe basls of a dozen
years of research Lrlggered by Lakoff and !ohnson (1980). lLs maln assumpLlon ls LhaL meLaphor ls noL
a maLLer of language buL of LhoughL: meLaphor ls 'a cross-domaln mapplng ln Lhe concepLual sysLem'
(Lakoff, 1993: 203). ln our culLure, argumenL ls concepLuallzed as war and Lherefore we Lalk abouL
argumenLs as lf Lhey are wars, noL Lhe oLher way around. Slnce meLaphorlcal expresslons ln language
are noL Lhe only Lype of manlfesLaLlon of meLaphor as parL of concepLual sLrucLure, or 'meLaphor ln
LhoughL,' alLernaLlve forms of expresslon of meLaphor ouLslde language have also been revealed ln
gesLure, vlsuals, and oLher modes of symbollzaLlon (e.g., Clenkl and Muller, 2008, lorcevllle and
urlos-Aparlsl, 2009). 1he cognlLlve-llngulsLlc approach Lo meLaphor hence lnvolved a radlcal reversal
of Lhe dependency beLween language and lLs lnLerpreLaLlon ln Lerms of ldeas: meLaphor ln language

used Lo come flrsL buL was now relegaLed Lo second poslLlon and regarded as derlvaLlve of meLaphor
ln LhoughL.
1hls has had a profound lmpacL on Lheory and research, as may also be gleaned from Lhe new
overvlew of research on meLaphor and LhoughL, Clbbs (2008a), whlch has replaced CrLony's second
edlLlon of Metopbot ooJ tbooqbt. Lakoff's conLemporary Lheory clalmed LhaL meLaphor ln LhoughL ls
noL devlanL or rare, as was and probably sLlll ls Lhe unquesLloned assumpLlon for Lhe general publlc,
buL LhaL meLaphor ln LhoughL lnsLead ls hlghly convenLlonal, ublqulLous and used ln many quarLers of
experlence. 1hls ls because people need absLracL caLegorles whenever Lhey have Lo deal wlLh
anyLhlng else Lhan Lhelr concreLe body and Lhelr physlcal envlronmenL. AbsLracLlons are Lyplcally
LhoughL of as caLegorles labelled as 'Llme', 'LhoughLs', 'emoLlons' or 'relaLlons', buL Lhls dlrecL
labelllng and expresslon of absLracLlons ls noL Lhe only way Lo concelve of absLracL LhoughL: as has
been amply shown by followers of Lakoff's conLemporary Lheory, absLracLlons are also consLrucLed ln
lndlrecL ways, vla meLaphor, meLonymy, and synecdoche. MeLaphor has Lurned ouL Lo be a
concepLual mechanlsm, a 'flgure of LhoughL', by whlch speclflc and operaLlonal knowledge abouL
more concreLe phenomena and experlences ls pro[ecLed onLo a wlde range of more absLracL ones.
1hus Llme ls Lyplcally concepLuallzed as space (e.g., Lvans, 2004), love, or more generally emoLlons,
as naLural forces (e.g., kvecses, 2000), LhoughLs as ob[ecLs LhaL can be manlpulaLed (e.g., Lakoff and
!ohnson, 1999), and organlzaLlons as planLs or machlnes (e.g., Morgan, 1997/2006). 1hls pro[ecLlon
from concreLe Lo absLracL knowledge sLrucLures works vla analogy, slmllarlLy, and comparlson
beLween elemenLs of dlsLlncL concepLual domalns, and naLurally conLrlbuLes Lo Lhe formaLlon of
many absLracL caLegorles. MeLaphor ls one of Lhe very few baslc mechanlsms for absLracL
caLegorlzaLlon, whlch ln Lurn ls fundamenLal for human cognlLlon, communlcaLlon, and language, as
may be lllusLraLed by Lhe followlng well-known llngulsLlc examples of Lhe concepLual meLaphor LCvL
lS A !Cu8nL?:
Look bow fot weve come. lL's been o looq, bompy tooJ. We can'L toto bock now. We're ot o
ctosstooJs. We may have Lo qo oot sepotote woys. 1he relaLlonshlp lsn'L qoloq ooywbete.
We're splooloq oot wbeels. Cur relaLlonshlp ls off tbe ttock. 1he marrlage ls oo tbe tocks. We
may have Lo boll oot of Lhls relaLlonshlp. (Lakoff, 1993: 206)
1here ls hence a generally concepLual orlenLaLlon Lo Lakoff's conLemporary Lheory of meLaphor: lL
focuses on LhoughL, noL language. 1hls, ln lLself, was noL compleLely new, as ls acknowledged ln Lhe
preface Lo Lakoff and !ohnson (1980), buL lLs lmpacL ln Lhe elghLles and nlneLles should be
undersLood agalnsL Lhe background of Lhe rlse of Lhe new lnLerdlsclpllnary enLerprlse called cognlLlve
sclence, ln whlch phllosophers, llngulsLs, psychologlsLs, blologlsLs, and compuLer sclenLlsLs, amongsL

oLhers, do lnnovaLlng research on a wlde range of phenomena, lncludlng language, mlnd, braln, and
Lhelr embodled basls. 1he arena for meLaphor Lheory and research was consequenLly broadened
conslderably by Lhe cognlLlve Lurn aL Lhe end of Lhe sevenLles, breaklng enLlrely new ground. lndeed,
slnce 1993, Lakoff has focused on one of Lhe mosL daunLlng aspecLs of Lhls cognlLlve-sclenLlflc
endeavor, narrowlng down Lhe consequences of hls verslon of Lhe conLemporary Lheory of meLaphor
Lo Lhelr neural subsLraLum (e.g., Lakoff, 2008a). 1hls Lype of lnnovaLlon ls clearly one reason why Lhe
cognlLlve-llngulsLlc approach looked llke Lhe conLemporary Lheory lndeed.
?eL Lhe cenLral dlscusslon of Lhe conLemporary Lheory of meLaphor ls noL abouL lLs neurollngulsLlc
amblLlons. lor one Lhlng, Lhere are noL many sLudenLs of meLaphor who have sufflclenL experLlse ln
neurosclence. 8uL a more general and perLlnenL lssue ls wheLher all lnLeresLlng quesLlons abouL
meLaphor can or have Lo be answered wlLh reference Lo Lhe neural sLrucLure and processes of Lhe
braln. AlLhough Lakoff hlmself holds LhaL even Lhe resulLs of Amerlcan elecLlons can be explalned ln
LhaL way (e.g., 2008b), lL ls noL generally accepLed LhaL all or many soclal and psychologlcal processes
can or even should be reduced Lo neurosclenLlflc causes and effecLs. eople do noL [usL behave,
declde, and acL as Lhe lmmedlaLe resulL of neural acLlvaLlon, consclous reflecLlon belng unable Lo
monlLor and re-dlrecL lnlLlal lmpulses. Plgher-level and consclous cognlLlve processes have Lhelr own
momenLum and reallLy, playlng a cruclal role ln soclal and culLural lnLeracLlons (cf. 8aumelsLer and
Maslcampo, 2010). neurollngulsLlc and neuropsychologlcal assoclaLlons may have been
demonsLraLed for some aspecLs of meLaphor, lndeed, buL Lhelr preclse relevance Lo Lhe wlde range
of quesLlons abouL Lhe sLrucLure, funcLlon, and use of meLaphor ln all klnds of acLual pracLlces
remalns Lo be preclsely Lheorlzed and researched. 1hls ls relaLed Lo anoLher llmlLaLlon of neural
research, whlch ls also acknowledged by Lakoff hlmself:
lndeed, lL ls ln cognlLlve llngulsLlcs where Lhe acLual conLenL and llngulsLlc expresslon of
frames ls sLudled. LmoLlon research wlLh fM8ls, however vlLal, cannoL Lell you concepLual
conLenL-whaL you are emoLlonal abouL. LmoLlon research alone cannoL dlsLlngulsh one ldea
from anoLher . (Lakoff, 2008b: 196)
Cf course, lL ls noL [usL ln cognlLlve llngulsLlcs where Lhe acLual conLenL and llngulsLlc expresslon of
meLaphorlcal frames ls sLudled, buL Lhe meLhodologlcal dlsLlncLlon beLween research on human
behavlor versus Lhe conLenL of llngulsLlc expresslons does have a bearlng on Lhe compleLe fleld of
research, as wlll be deLalled below (secLlon 3).

2.2 roblems wlLh meLaphor ln LhoughL
As Lakoff was wrlLlng up hls conLemporary Lheory of meLaphor, fundamenLal ob[ecLlons Lo deLalls of
Lhe cognlLlve-llngulsLlc approach Lo meLaphor ln LhoughL were formulaLed by oLher llngulsLs
lnLeresLed ln cognlLlon, such as Wlerzblcka (1986) and !ackendoff and Aaron (1991), as well as by
cognlLlve psychologlsLs such as Clucksberg and keysar (1990, 1993). 1hey conLesLed Lakoff's
lnLerpreLaLlon of one of hls Lhree mosL robusL Lypes of evldence for meLaphor ln LhoughL (1993: 203),
Lhe role of meLaphorlcally moLlvaLed polysemy ln Lhe lexlcon. Closslng over many deLalls, Lhe
problem ls Lhls: even lf words llke JefeoJ, ottock, wlo, lose, and so on dlsplay sysLemaLlc polysemy ln
LhaL Lhey all have 'war' senses as well as 'argumenL' senses, Lhls does noL enLall LhaL when Lhey are
used ln Lhelr meLaphorlcal sense Lhey also always reflecL Lhe presence and use of meLaphorlcal
concepLual sysLems ln on-golng meLaphorlcal cognlLlon, mapplngs belng consLrucLed from concreLe
source domalns of flghLlng and war Lo absLracL LargeL domalns of dlscusslon and debaLe. 1hls ls Lhe
cognlLlve-llngulsLlc clalm, buL qulLe a few oLher llngulsLs and psychologlsLs slmply deny LhaL Lhls Lype
of mapplng has Lo Lake place durlng on-llne language processlng. 1hey offer Lhe alLernaLlve
explanaLlon LhaL such mapplngs may have been needed aL some polnL of usage ln Lhe hlsLory of Lhe
language, buL LhaL Lhese mapplngs have become lrrelevanL Lo Lhe LhoughL processes of Lhe
conLemporary language user, preclsely because Lhe meLaphorlcal senses of Lhe words have become
equally convenLlonal, and someLlmes even more frequenL, Lhan Lhe non-meLaphorlcal ones.
1hls ls valld crlLlclsm of an approach LhaL clalms Lo be usage-based (SLeen, ln press a): why would
people have Lo re-enacL Lhe same mapplngs across concepLual domalns, spaces, or caLegorles over
and over agaln lf Lhey have convenLlonallzed meLaphorlcal senses aL Lhelr dlsposal LhaL Lhey can pull
dlrecLly from Lhelr menLal dlcLlonarles when needed? And why would chlldren acqulre Lhe 'war'
senses of JefeoJ, ottock, wlo, lose and so on flrsL, as baslc senses from whlch Lhey have Lo pro[ecL
flguraLlve mapplngs, lf many chlldren grow up ln an envlronmenL where argumenL ls forLunaLely
much more prevalenL Lhan war? Cr, alLernaLlvely, why would Lhey prlvllege Lhe 'war' sense over Lhe
'argumenL' sense as belng more baslc lf Lhey acqulre such words as wholes and Lhen sLarL
dlfferenLlaLlng Lhem lnLo dlsLlncL uses, as ls Lhe new poslLlon ln Lakoff and !ohnson (1999)? (And how
would Lhls work ln a socleLy LhaL, aL an early age of developmenL, has compuLer games on offer ln
whlch war has become play?) lf Lhe overall polnL of Lhls crlLlque can be subsLanLlaLed, Lhe general
Lhesls LhaL Lhe ublqulLously meLaphorlcal sLrucLures of language reflecL masslve amounLs of on-golng
meLaphorlcal LhoughL would be serlously weakened (alLhough less bold verslons may of course
remaln defenslble).

1he ldea LhaL Lhere may be alLernaLlve explanaLlons of Lhe same language daLa has been promoLed
for some Llme wlLhln Lhe framework of Lakoff's conLemporary Lheory by one of lLs sLaunchesL
advocaLes, psychologlsL 8ay Clbbs (e.g., 1994, 1999). 1he hlsLorlcal explanaLlon, sLaLlng LhaL
conLemporary meLaphorlcally moLlvaLed polysemy ls largely a maLLer of dlachronlc language
developmenL and does noL splll over lnLo perslsLenL on-llne meLaphorlcal processlng, ls one of
Clbbs's llsL of opLlons. 1hls hlsLorlcal alLernaLlve was developed durlng Lhe nlneLles ln concreLe deLall
ln experlmenLal research carrled ouL by Lwo oLher psychologlsLs and Lhelr assoclaLes, Sam Clucksberg
(cf. 2001, 2008) and uedre CenLner (e.g. CenLner and 8owdle, 2001, 2008, 8owdle and CenLner,
2003), lL currenLly presenLs a vlable and well-supporLed compeLlLor Lo Lakoff's audaclous and
evldenLly sLlll lnsplrlng poslLlon.
ln reLrospecL, Clucksberg's maln conLrlbuLlon was Lo quesLlon Lakoff's clalm LhaL such on-llne
meLaphor comprehenslon requlres cross-domaln mapplng by comparlson. lnsLead, Clucksberg
argues, Lhe process works by caLegorlzaLlon (or more slmply, absLracLlon). 1hus, accordlng Lo
Clucksberg, when processlng a senLence llke My lowyet ls o sbotk, people would noL pro[ecL a
comparlson from sbotk Lo lowyet, slmply because Lhe senLence Lells Lhem LhaL lawyers are noL llke
sharks buL parL of Lhe caLegory of 'sharks'. 8ecause Lhls ls blaLanLly lncorrecL, people would Lhen
aLLempL Lo flnd Lhe seL of aLLrlbuLes LhaL sbotk exempllfles and use LhaL seL of aLLrlbuLes Lo form a
new, ad-hoc superordlnaLe caLegory wlLhln whlch Lhe concepL of 'lawyer' can be seen as anoLher
lnsLance. lf Lhls happens ofLen enough, Lhe Lerm sbotk becomes polysemous, acqulrlng a flguraLlve
superordlnaLe sense nexL Lo lLs orlglnal baslc sense. 1hls ln Lurn can Lhen explaln LhaL convenLlonal
meLaphors, already havlng readlly-avallable flguraLlve senses, do noL requlre Lhe concepLual process
of caLegorlzaLlon or absLracLlon anymore. LxperlmenLal evldence Lo Lhls effecL was adduced ln
varlous places (for an overvlew and references, see Clucksberg, 2008).
1he dlsLlncLlon beLween convenLlonal and novel meLaphor was placed ln an even more expllclLly
hlsLorlcal perspecLlve by CenLner and 8owdle when Lhey proposed Lhe Career of MeLaphor 1heory
(2001, cf. 2008, 8owdle & CenLner, 2003). 1hey suggesL LhaL meLaphor requlres dlfferenL menLal
processes when lL ls novel (aL Lhe beglnnlng of lLs career) Lhan when lL ls convenLlonal (ln Lhe mlddle)
or has dled (aL Lhe end). 1hey agree wlLh Clucksberg LhaL some meLaphor may requlre processlng by
caLegorlzaLlon (or absLracLlon) and noL cross-domaln mapplng (or comparlson), buL Lhey have offered
experlmenLal evldence LhaL Lhls works dlfferenLly Lhan predlcLed by Clucksberg. 1he maln
conLrlbuLlon of Lhe Career of MeLaphor 1heory ln Lhls connecLlon ls LhaL lL ls noL [usL Lhe novel or
convenLlonal concepLual sLrucLure of a meLaphor LhaL affecLs Lhe way lL ls processed, by comparlson
or caLegorlzaLlon, buL LhaL Lhls concepLual dlmenslon of meLaphor lnLeracLs wlLh Lhe llngulsLlc form

ln whlch Lhe cross-domaln mapplng ls expressed: genulne meLaphors work dlfferenLly Lhan slmlles.
An example may help Lo make Lhls more concreLe.
!usL as Clucksberg Lakes sLaLemenLs such as My lowyet ls o sbotk aL face value, ln LhaL lL ls a class-
lncluslon sLaLemenL LhaL supposedly Lrlggers caLegorlzaLlon, so CenLner and 8owdle Lake Lhe lexlco-
grammaLlcal form of slmlles such as Lhe convenLlonal 1lme ls llke o tlvet aL face value and predlcL LhaL
Lhey Lrlgger comparlson (Lhe 'grammaLlcal concordance hypoLhesls'). lf Lhese predlcLlons are crossed
wlLh Lhe demonsLrable lnfluence of convenLlonal versus novel mapplngs, Lhere ls an lnLeracLlon
effecL on preference for processlng sLraLegy of llngulsLlc form comblned wlLh concepLual sLrucLure. ln
a Lask asklng for people's preference for a meLaphor or slmlle form of senLences llke My lowyet ls
(llke) o sbotk or 1lme ls (llke) o tlvet,
preference for Lhe meLaphor form was far hlgher for convenLlonal flguraLlve sLaLemenLs Lhan
for novel flguraLlve sLaLemenLs. lndeed, parLlclpanLs' preference for Lhe comparlson form
was as sLrong for novel flguraLlve as lL was for llLeral slmllarlLy sLaLemenLs. 1he convenLlonal
flguraLlves were more mlxed, conslsLenL wlLh Lhe clalm LhaL convenLlonal flguraLlves may be
LreaLed as elLher comparlsons or caLegorlzaLlons. (2008: 120)
Comprehenslon Llmes conflrmed Lhls lnLeracLlon effecL on processlng sLraLegy:
llrsL, convenLlonal flguraLlves were lnLerpreLed fasLer Lhan novel flguraLlves. And second,
Lhere was an lnLeracLlon beLween convenLlonallLy and grammaLlcal form, such LhaL novel
slmlles were fasLer Lhan novel meLaphors, buL convenLlonal meLaphors were fasLer Lhan
convenLlonal slmlles. (2008: 121)
1he Career of MeLaphor 1heory Lherefore offers a sophlsLlcaLed descrlpLlon of Lhe relaLlon beLween
meLaphor ln LhoughL (convenLlonal versus novel concepLual sLrucLures), meLaphor ln language
(meLaphor versus slmlle form), and meLaphor ln processlng (comparlson versus caLegorlzaLlon).
ln oLher words, from Lhe publlcaLlon of Lakoff and !ohnson (1980) on, Lhe conLemporary Lheory of
meLaphor developed some bold clalms abouL meLaphor and Lhe way lL plays a role ln LhoughL (whlch
was held Lo be reflecLed as such ln language), and Lhls led on Lo new research and more preclse
quesLlons and predlcLlons ln Lhe framework of a number of compeLlng alLernaLlve explanaLlons. AL
Lhe momenL, Lhe maln quesLlon abouL Lhe relaLlon beLween meLaphor ln language and LhoughL ln
psychologlcal sLrucLure and process has become: wbeo ls meLaphor ln language processed by on-llne
cross-domaln mapplng (or comparlson)? 1hls ls noL [usL Lhe expllclL LargeL for CenLner and 8owdle ln
Lhelr developmenL of Lhe Career of MeLaphor 1heory, whlch offers a compleLe and moLlvaLed
accounL of a number of posslble scenarlos. lL has also become Lhe new goal for Clucksberg and hls

co-workers, who aL flrsL clalmed LhaL all meLaphor was processed by caLegorlzaLlon, buL ls now Lrylng
Lo develop a more sophlsLlcaLed accounL (e.g., Clucksberg, 2008, Clucksberg and PaughL, 2006). And
lL has even begun Lo affecL Lhe poslLlon of Lakoff, who aL flrsL argued LhaL all meLaphor was
processed by cross-domaln mapplng buL now wrlLes (2008a: 33): 'uoes op ln ltlces weot op always
acLlvaLe Lhe Mote ls up? lL depends.'
ulsLlncL researchers have dlfferenL expecLaLlons, dependlng on Lhelr LheoreLlcal framework. 1he
maln orlglnal LeneL of Lhe cognlLlve-llngulsLlc approach, LhaL all meLaphor ln language requlres on-
llne cross-domaln mapplng ln LhoughL, ls ln some dlfflculLy, and lL has become an emplrlcal quesLlon
wlLh uncerLaln ouLcome when meLaphorlcal LhoughL ln facL Lakes place. ln lLs wake, Lhe general
valldlLy of Lhe noLlon of concepLual meLaphor and lLs preclse relevance for speclflc concepLual
sysLems has also come up for furLher scruLlny. Cverall, however, each of Lhese Lheorles may sLlll be
descrlbed ln Lerms of an encompasslng cognlLlve-sclenLlflc framework LhaL may sLlll be labeled as
compaLlble wlLh Lhe conLemporary Lheory of meLaphor, meLaphor ln LhoughL leadlng Lhe way Lo
emplrlcal research on meLaphor ln language processlng, knowledge represenLaLlon, reasonlng, and
so on (see SLeen, 2007).
A sllghLly more subsLanLlve and programmaLlc re-consLrucLlon of where Lhe old conLemporary Lheory
of meLaphor sLands Loday could polnL aL Lhe followlng flve more deLalled lssues for research.
1. 1he noLlon of meLaphor as a cross-domaln mapplng ln concepLual sLrucLure ls an essenLlal
LheoreLlcal sLarLlng polnL for sLudylng how novel versus convenLlonal meLaphors are
processed, by comparlson or caLegorlzaLlon (Lakoff's ConcepLual MeLaphor 1heory versus
Clucksberg's Class-lncluslon 1heory versus CenLner's Career of MeLaphor 1heory). new
evldence has been offered, for lnsLance, LhaL on-llne meLaphorlcal mapplng may sLlll be
lmporLanL for some convenLlonal meLaphors (e.g., 8orodlLsky, 2000). lL ls posslble, however,
LhaL Lhese convenLlonal concepLual meLaphors, lncludlng 1lme ls spoce, may be speclal cases:
Lhey may be prlmary meLaphors wlLh an embodled basls ln lmage schemas whlch may exhlblL
perslsLlng neural enLrenchmenL (Clbbs, 2006, Pampe, 2003). 1hls may consLlLuLe a conLrasL
wlLh oLher meLaphors LhaL do noL have such an lmage-schemaLlc basls, and offers a new way
ln Lo Lhe lssue of Lhe valldlLy of concepLual meLaphors as such, buL emplrlcal research sLlll
has Lo address Lhls quesLlon.
2. 1he noLlon of meLaphor as a cross-domaln mapplng ln concepLual sLrucLure ls also essenLlal
for Lhe sLudy of how dlsLlncL llngulsLlc forms are processed, by comparlson or caLegorlzaLlon
agaln. As suggesLed [usL now, Lhe lnLeracLlon beLween Lhe concepLual (convenLlonal versus
novel) and llngulsLlc (meLaphor versus slmlle) properLles of meLaphors ls one area of

aLLenLlon, buL Lhe avallable evldence ls sLlll lnconcluslve. Moreover, lL ls largely based on
hlghly lnfrequenL llngulsLlc consLrucLlons (A ls jllke] 8): oLher forms of meLaphor wlll also
have Lo be lncluded (CoaLly, 1997, SLeen, 2007).
3. MeLaphor as a cross-domaln mapplng ln concepLual sLrucLure ls furLhermore essenLlal for
Lheory and research on how deep processlng of meLaphors ln language can and needs Lo go.
1he comparlson-caLegorlzaLlon debaLe ln psychology focuses on meLaphor ln LhoughL, or on
Lhe need Lo undersLand meLaphorlcal uLLerances by acLlvaLlng correspondlng concepLual
domalns and seLLlng up mapplngs across Lhem, by whlchever cognlLlve operaLlon. ln essence,
lL looks aL meLaphor as a mechanlsm for caLegorlzaLlon. new evldence has been offered
(Clora, 2003, 2008, cf. Coulson, 2008), however, LhaL on-llne llngulsLlc as opposed Lo
concepLual processlng of such uLLerances, by lexlcal dlsamblguaLlon, may also accounL for
Lhe daLa regardlng convenLlonal meLaphor (whlch consLlLuLes Lhe bulk of all meLaphor). 1hls
Lype of analysls looks aL Lhe role of Lhe semanLlc sallence of word senses, noL concepLs. lf
convenLlonallzed meLaphorlcal senses are sufflclenLly sallenL, whlch Lhey ofLen are, Lhls
analysls can be made fully compaLlble wlLh Lhe hlsLorlcal explanaLlon LhaL suggesLs LhaL
people slmply reLrleve Lhe approprlaLe senses and do noL have Lo go Lo concepLual sLrucLures
(cf. SLeen, 1994).
lL should be noLed LhaL Lhls ls an explanaLlon whlch has been lmposslble for a whlle ln
cognlLlve llngulsLlcs because cognlLlve llngulsLs do noL make a hard-and-fasL dlsLlncLlon
beLween lexlcal semanLlcs and concepLual sLrucLures (buL cf. Lvans, 2009). 1he cenLral
cognlLlve-llngulsLlc assumpLlon abouL Lhe cognlLlve lnseparablllLy of words and concepLs,
however, does noL mean LhaL lexlcal dlsamblguaLlon cannoL sLlll be a raLher dlfferenL
psychologlcal process Lhan Lhe consLrucLlon or reLrleval of compleLe concepLual caLegorles
and mapplngs beLween Lhem. l have suggesLed LhaL Lhere may be more 'shallow' processlng
of Lhls klnd Lhan ls acknowledged ln many meLaphor sLudles (SLeen, 1994, 2007, 2008).
4. 1here are oLher lssues regardlng Lhe relaLlons beLween meLaphor, language and LhoughL,
such as producLlon versus comprehenslon, Lhe mulLlmodal naLure of meLaphor ln producLlon
and comprehenslon, and longer-Lerm processes of language acqulslLlon and learnlng,
malnLenance, and loss. Cne cenLral problem lnvolves Lhe preclse ldenLlflcaLlon and
demarcaLlon of meLaphors ln LhoughL, boLh wlLh regard Lo local and lsolaLed lnsLances as
well as Lhe large-scale sysLemaLlc complexes of meLaphor llke LCvL lS A !Cu8nL? or 1lML lS
SACL. 8uL Lhese Loplcs can and have been be addressed ln Lhe same cognlLlve-sclenLlflc
framework (SLeen, 2007) and are Lyplcally LreaLed ln cognlLlve psychology as dependenL on
how Lhe above lssues are resolved (e.g., McClone, 2007).

3. 1he hlsLorlcal explanaLlon of Lhe way meLaphor works advanced so far may also be applled Lo
concepLual sLrucLure. ln parLlcular, even Lhough lL may be Lrue LhaL speclflc concepLual
domalns may have been used ln a culLure Lo concepLuallze oLher concepLual domalns ln
more speclflc and preclse Lerms, such as Llme as space, or organlzaLlons as machlnes or
planLs, Lhls does noL necessarlly mean LhaL Lhose mapplngs should sLlll remaln cognlLlvely
avallable as (parLs of) concepLual sysLems, sLlll geLLlng acLlvaLed durlng on-llne Lhlnklng,
reasonlng, long-Lerm knowledge represenLaLlon, and so on Loday. 1he mapplngs mlghL have
done Lhelr work ln Lhe pasL and Lhe concepLual organlzaLlon of Lhe more absLracL domalns
could be auLonomous from Lhe orlglnal source domalns.
ln order Lo produce evldence for Lhe more general cognlLlve-sclenLlflc clalm abouL meLaphor
ln LhoughL, and ln order Lo geL away from Lhe dependence on llngulsLlc daLa for Lhe Lhesls
abouL meLaphorlcal LhoughL, non-llngulsLlc research focuslng on meLaphor ln LhoughL has
shown LhaL people do Lhlnk meLaphorlcally when Lhey perform varlous Lasks (e.g., CasasanLo,
2008). 1hese flndlngs make a case for one of Lhe cenLral clalms of Lhe conLemporary Lheory,
LhaL meLaphor ls essenLlal Lo Lhe way we Lhlnk. ?eL lL should also be reallzed LhaL, flrsL of all,
lL ls noL clear for whlch class(es) of concepLual meLaphors Lhls holds, and, secondly, LhaL Lhls
does noL have a dlrecL bearlng on Lhe relaLlon beLween meLaphor ln LhoughL and language,
whlch may sLlll be explalned along Lhe llnes suggesLed above, preclsely because of Lhe non-
llngulsLlc focus of Lhese sLudles. WhaL ls needed, Lherefore, ls a more preclse model of Lhe
relaLlon beLween meLaphor ln LhoughL and meLaphor ln language processlng (cf. 8orodlLsky,
All of Lhese lssues, as Lhey are percelved now, can be comforLably lnLegraLed ln revlsed forms of Lhe
old conLemporary Lheory of meLaphor. 1hey may be seen as serlous problems, Loo, for Lhe
conLemporary Lheory by Lhose cognlLlve sclenLlsLs who do noL endorse Lhe cognlLlve-llngulsLlc
approach. Powever, from a more general angle Lhey may also be lnLerpreLed as varlaLlons on Lhe
consLanL cognlLlve-sclenLlflc Lheme of meLaphor ln LhoughL LhaL forms Lhe bedrock of Lhe
conLemporary Lheory.

2.3 1he role of meLaphor ln communlcaLlon
1here ls one Lype of problem, however, whlch does requlre sLepplng ouLslde Lhe old conLemporary
Lheory. 1hls ls Lhe noLlon of dellberaLe meLaphor. Lven Lhough aL flrsL glance dellberaLe meLaphor
looks llke a problem LhaL could be key Lo Lhe cognlLlve-llngulsLlc approach Lo meLaphor as a maLLer of

LhoughL, ln LhaL lL goes back Lo Lhe old and Lhorny problems of lnLenLlonallLy and consclousness, lL ls
much more complex Lhan LhaL. l wlll argue here LhaL Lhe opposlLlon beLween dellberaLe and non-
dellberaLe meLaphor rlghLfully belongs Lo a dlfferenL dlmenslon Lhan LhoughL or language, namely
communlcaLlon. lL Lherefore promoLes a radlcal reconslderaLlon of Lhe Lwo-dlmenslonal paradlgm of
Lhe old conLemporary Lheory of meLaphor (SLeen, 2008).
1he quesLlon of wheLher a meLaphor ls used dellberaLely or noL may be approached ln dlfferenL ways
(e.g., Cameron, 2003, CharLerls-8lack and Musolff, 2003), buL here l wlll look aL lL from Lhe LradlLlonal
rheLorlcal perspecLlve. 1he lssue may Lhen be phrased as follows: when do people use a meLaphor
dellberaLely os a meLaphor? ln oLher words, when do Lhey use a llngulsLlc expresslon ln such a way
LhaL Lhey are aware of lLs foundaLlon ln a cross-domaln mapplng, and ln such a way LhaL Lhey may
also wanL Lo alerL Lhelr addressee Lo Lhls facL as well, apparenLly for speclflc rheLorlcal reasons?
ln pracLlcally all conLemporary meLaphor research, Lhe quesLlon of meLaphor dellberaLeness has
been lgnored. 1here are no psychollngulsLlc experlmenLs LhaL have examlned Lhe role of consclous
and lnLenLlonal meLaphor use. 1hls ls also due Lo Lhe maln LhrusL of Lhe cognlLlve-llngulsLlc
conLemporary Lheory of meLaphor, whlch has been Lo asserL LhaL meLaphor works convenLlonally,
auLomaLlcally, and unconsclously. 1hls radlcal poslLlon was needed Lo geL away from Lhe LradlLlonal
vlew of meLaphor as a rheLorlcal devlce wlLh whlch language users consclously and dellberaLely
manlpulaLed Lhelr message for communlcaLlve purposes, and Lhe remove has served lLs purpose. 8uL
Lhe concomlLanL dlsLance Lo Lhe rheLorlcal role of meLaphor now needs Lo be redressed (cf. 8llllg &
MacMlllan, 2003, Polmgreen, 2008, Wee, 2003).
MeLaphor ln language dlsplays a cruclal opposlLlon beLween meLaphor and slmlle, and meLaphor ln
LhoughL dlsplays a cruclal opposlLlon beLween convenLlonal and novel meLaphor, as we have seen, ln
Lhe same way, meLaphor ln communlcaLlon exhlblLs a fundamenLal conLrasL beLween dellberaLe and
non-dellberaLe meLaphor. uellberaLe meLaphor ls an overL lnvlLaLlon on Lhe parL of Lhe sender for
Lhe addressee Lo sLep ouLslde Lhe domlnanL LargeL domaln of Lhe dlscourse and look aL lL from an
allen source domaln. 1hls clearly happens when people use slmlles such as 5cleoce ls llke o qloclet:
Lhe addressee has Lo sLep ouLslde Lhe LargeL domaln of sclence, whlch funcLlons as Lhe local
dlscourse Loplc, and re-vlew lL from Lhe angle of Lhe allen concepLual domaln of glaclers and, more
broadly, our naLural envlronmenL. 1he lexlcal slgnal llke, moreover, makes lL expllclL LhaL Lhe sender
wanLs Lhe addressee Lo perform a cross-domaln mapplng beLween Lhese Lwo concepLual caLegorles,
from glaclers as a source Lo sclence as a LargeL. 1hls could also be slgnaled ln oLher ways, such as
metopbotlcolly speokloq, scleoce ls llke o qloclet. Moreover, lL would be enLlrely approprlaLe for Lhe
addressee Lo respond Lo Lhe meLaphorlcal sLaLus of such an uLLerance, by way of expllclL meLaphor

recognlLlon, sllghLly more exLended meLaphorlcal lnLerpreLaLlon, or overL meLaphor appreclaLlon (cf.
SLeen, 1994).
non-dellberaLe meLaphor does noL have Lhls parLlcular communlcaLlve alm of changlng an
addressee's perspecLlve on Lhe currenL local Loplc of a dlscourse evenL. CommunlcaLlvely, lL lnLends
Lo sLay on Loplc (Lhe domlnanL concepLual domaln of dlscourse, whlch may even be llmlLed Lo Lhe
conflnes of a slngle clause or dlscourse unlL): lL does noL ask Lhe addressee Lo pay consclous aLLenLlon
Lo Lhe sLrucLure of an allen source domaln LhaL may be lnvolved ln Lhe semanLlcs of Lhe words used. l
would clalm LhaL Lhls holds for many examples adduced ln cognlLlve llngulsLlcs, lncludlng senLences
llke lokoff ottockeJ Clocksbetq. lL would be lnapproprlaLe and dlsLracLlng lf an addressee spenL Llme
on accesslng Lhe war domaln durlng Lhelr lnLerpreLaLlon or appreclaLlon of Lhls uLLerance lf lL were
convenLlonally used Lo Lalk abouL an academlc debaLe. lL would also be lnapproprlaLe and dlsLracLlng
lf Lhe speaker drew aLLenLlon Lo Lhe meLaphorlcal naLure of Lhls lexlcal usage, by addlng ln a lexlcal
slgnal Lo LhaL effecL, as ln lokoff ottockeJ Clocksbetq, so to speok (cf. Coddard, 2004). 1he same
would hold for a response by Lhe addressee LhaL called aLLenLlon Lo Lhe flguraLlve naLure of Lhe
uLLerance as an uLLerance: 'Why dld you use LhaL meLaphor Lhere?' would ralse an eyebrow or Lwo.
1he opposlLlon beLween dellberaLe and non-dellberaLe meLaphor ls abouL Lhe presence or absence
of a change ln perspecLlve on Lhe LargeL domaln LhaL ls communlcaLlvely shared beLween Lhe
producer and Lhe reclplenL: lL ls as lf Lhe sender could have sald, 'Look aL lL Lhls way .' lL ls a
dlsLlncLlon whlch has been glossed over and ls now a new and cruclal Loplc on Lhe agenda for
meLaphor research. lL also offers exclLlng opporLunlLles for appllcaLlon and lnLervenLlon ln Lhe
dlverse pracLlce of language users, ln Lhe medla, educaLlon, organlzaLlons, healLh and care, pollLlcs,
and so on.
1hls ls parLlcularly lmporLanL because of Lhe posslble relaLlon of dellberaLe meLaphor Lo processlng:
Lhe llngulsLlc forms and concepLual sLrucLures of dellberaLe and non-dellberaLe meLaphors may vary,
and Lhe communlcaLlve reasons for uslng meLaphors dellberaLely or non-dellberaLely may also
dlverge, buL when meLaphors are used dellberaLely, lL may be expecLed LhaL all of Lhem are Lo be
processed by comparlson, noL caLegorlzaLlon. 1hls ls slmply because Lhey are presenLed as expllclL
lnvlLaLlons for Lhe addressee Lo move away from Lhe LargeL domaln and consLrucL a cross-domaln
mapplng from some allen source domaln. lf dellberaLe meLaphors are noL processed by forglng
correspondences beLween a source and a LargeL domaln, Lhey mlsflre as (parLs of) uLLerances. 1hus,
lL ls lnevlLable for an addressee who alms Lo make sense of Lhe above example senLence abouL
sclence Lo conslder some parL of glaclers. Some form of comparlson wlll be lnelucLable Lhere, from
Lhe sLandpolnL of glaclers, whlch consequenLly enLalls a shlfL ln poslLlon from whlch Lhe local Loplc of

Lhe dlscourse, sclence, ls approached. Powever, lL ls noL lnevlLable for an addressee Lo conslder some
parL of Lhe caLegory of war Lo undersLand lokoff ottockeJ Clocksbetq: reLrleval of Lhe correcL
meLaphorlcal sense of Lhe lexlcal unlL ottock can also do Lhe [ob, and slnce LhaL sense ls an
'argumenLaLlon' sense, noL a 'war' sense, Lhere wlll be no observable change of perspecLlve, from
argumenLaLlon Lo war, wlLhln Lhe parameLers of Lhe dlscourse.
lnLrospecLlon and casual observaLlon suggesL LhaL, generally, people do noL ofLen use meLaphors
dellberaLely. And Lhere may be good dlscourse reasons for Lhls: we cannoL keep changlng our
perspecLlve all Lhe Llme as we need Lo sLay focused on one concepLual LargeL domaln aL a Llme, Lhe
Loplc. nor can we keep dolng comparlsons or cross-domaln mapplngs all Lhe Llme, for Lhey cosL
addlLlonal energy. 1hls general explanaLlon ls complemenLary Lo Lhe one addresslng Lhe speclal role
of meLaphor ln for lnsLance llLeraLure, where Lhe probably more frequenL use of dellberaLe meLaphor
ls held Lo funcLlon as a devlce for Lhe defamlllarlzaLlon of cognlLlon (e.g., Semlno and SLeen, 2008).
1hls concluslon abouL Lhe pauclLy of dellberaLe meLaphor ln communlcaLlon ls almosL Lhe opposlLe of
Lhe ublqulLy vlew developed ln Lhe cognlLlve-llngulsLlc approach Lo meLaphor presenLed as Lhe
conLemporary Lheory, and lL ralses Lhe quesLlon how Lhese vlews can be reconclled.

2.4 1owards a Lhree-dlmenslonal model for meLaphor
1he cognlLlve-llngulsLlc Lhesls LhaL meLaphor ls ublqulLous and a general-use Lool for LhoughL sharply
conLrasLs wlLh Lhe rheLorlcal poslLlon LhaL meLaphor ls relaLlvely scarce and a speclal-use Lool for
communlcaLlon. 1hese vlews can only be reconclled ln a framework LhaL allows for a dlsLlncLlon
beLween Lhe non-dellberaLe versus dellberaLe use of meLaphor ln communlcaLlon. lf we lnclude Lhe
oLher lmporLanL opposlLlons beLween convenLlonal versus novel meLaphor (concepLual sLrucLure)
and slmlle versus meLaphor (llngulsLlc form), we arrlve aL a Lhree-dlmenslonal framework whlch
allows for Lhe sLudy of every meLaphor from Lhree complemenLary angles, meLaphor ln language,
LhoughL, and communlcaLlon. lL suggesLs LhaL lmporLanL dlfferences beLween meLaphors can be
capLured by a Laxonomy LhaL may be schemaLlcally represenLed as ln Lable 1.

1oble 1
1btee-Jlmeosloool toxooomy fot metopbot ptopettles
commoolcotlve voloes cooceptool voloes lloqolstlc voloes xomples
MeLaphor lokoff ottockeJ

Slmlle nes os stobboto os o
MeLaphor ?


novel Slmlle ?

MeLaphor wosps, tbe wtooq
weotbet, ooJ wby tbls
sommets qot o vety
oosty stloq lo tbe toll
(newspaper headllne)

Slmlle Mote llke tbe sboJow
of bls tbooqbts ot
sometbloq (8nC !Su
MeLaphor Iollet ls tbe soo


novel Slmlle vety jookles llke o
settloq soo

Cf course, Lhls Laxonomy ls a slmpllflcaLlon, slnce some meLaphors may be concepLually convenLlonal
buL llngulsLlcally novel, as ln 8ob uylan's 1lme ls o jet plooe, lt moves too fost, buL we wlll leave Lhese
and oLher deslrable reflnemenLs aslde for now. All comblnaLlons of values can be easlly lllusLraLed,
wlLh one excepLlon: lL ls hard Lo come up wlLh good examples of novel meLaphors and slmlles LhaL
are noL dellberaLe. 1hls ls because novelLy seems Lo suggesL some degree of awareness of chooslng
an allen source domaln Lo Lalk abouL some currenL LargeL domaln, whlch ln Lurn suggesLs LhaL such a
novel meLaphorlcal mapplng ls dellberaLe. 1hls ls noL Lhe compleLe sLory Lhough, for whaL ls
convenLlonal Lo one lnLerlocuLor may be novel Lo anoLher (SLeen, ln press b) and furLher LheoreLlcal
work on Lhe dlsLlncLlon and lnLeracLlon beLween Lhese caLegorles ls clearly needed.
1hls leads on Lo a relaLed polnL, whlch ls also clarlfled by Lhe sLrucLure of Lable 1: convenLlonal
meLaphor ls noL ldenLlcal wlLh non-dellberaLe meLaphor, and lL ls Lherefore noL Lhe opposlLe of
dellberaLe meLaphor. ConvenLlonal meLaphor can be used elLher non-dellberaLely or dellberaLely, as
ls lllusLraLed by Lhe examples. 1hls ls because convenLlonallLy ls parL of one dlmenslon, meLaphor ln
LhoughL, whlch ls orLhogonal Lo Lhe oLher dlmenslons, ln Lhls case Lhe communlcaLlve dlmenslon,
whlch lncludes dellberaLeness. CaLegorles of one dlmenslon may be hlghly correlaLed wlLh caLegorles
on anoLher one, buL a Lhree-dlmenslonal model prevenLs Lhe llleglLlmaLe conflaLlon of Lhese aspecLs
of meLaphor on one scale, as happens ln for lnsLance Cameron (2003), who seLs up a conLrasL
beLween convenLlonal and dellberaLe meLaphor.
1hese commenLs can only begln Lo suggesL Lhe value of Lhls Lhree-dlmenslonal approach Lo Lhe sLudy
of meLaphor. CLher aspecLs lnclude Lhe followlng programmaLlc polnLs: mosL of Lhese are relaLlvely
new quesLlons for Lhe conLemporary Lheory of meLaphor.
1. 1he conLrasLs beLween dellberaLe versus non-dellberaLe meLaphor, convenLlonal versus
novel meLaphor, and slmlle versus meLaphor are lmporLanL buL also lllusLraLlve (cf. SLeen,
a. More caLegorles are needed for some of Lhese scales, such as oLher llngulsLlc forms
Lhan A ls 8 meLaphors and A ls llke 8 slmlles for Lhe scale of 'llngulsLlc form', and
'dead' for Lhe scale of 'convenLlonallLy'.
b. lurLher scales for each of Lhe Lhree dlmenslons are also needed: ln Lhe llngulsLlc
dlmenslon, slmple lexlco-grammaLlcal dlsLlncLlons have Lo be lncluded Lo examlne
how meLaphor behaves across Lhem, ln Lhe concepLual dlmenslon, meLaphor
apLness has recenLly drawn much aLLenLlon as a poLenLlal compeLlLor Lo meLaphor
convenLlonallLy ln lLs poLenLlal for explalnlng whlch meLaphors are processed ln

whlch way, by comparlson or caLegorlzaLlon (e.g., !ones and LsLes, 2003, 2006, buL
cf. CenLner and 8owdle, 2008), and ln Lhe communlcaLlve dlmenslon, oLher
rheLorlcal flgures, lncludlng hyperbole, lrony, and so on, have been shown Lo affecL
Lhe funcLlon and use of meLaphor.
2. 1he conLrasLs used ln Lable 1 are LheoreLlcally lmporLanL for Lhe developmenL of Lheory and
research ln Lhe conLemporary Lheory ln LhaL Lhey feed lnLo Lhe research lssues summarlzed
ln 2.2 above. Powever, Lhey should noL be Laken as suggesLlve of Lhe frequency or
dlsLrlbuLlon of each of Lhese caLegorles ln naLural dlscourse. 1hus, as we shall see ln more
deLall below, slmlle accounLs for a very small percenLage of all llngulsLlc forms of meLaphor,
Lhe bulk of meLaphor belng expressed as 'Lrue' or 'slmple' meLaphor. A comparable
proporLlon holds for novel versus convenLlonal concepLual sLrucLures of meLaphor. A slmllar
argumenL can be made for dellberaLe versus non-dellberaLe meLaphor, whlch faclllLaLes
reconclllaLlon of Lhe cognlLlve-llngulsLlc poslLlon LhaL meLaphor ls ublqulLous wlLh Lhe
rheLorlcal poslLlon LhaL lL ls rare: Lhe Lop half of Lhe flgure conLalns Lhe bulk of meLaphor ln
dlscourse whlle Lhe boLLom half only has a small proporLlon.
3. We have seen above LhaL currenL psychollngulsLlc research has concenLraLed on Lhe relaLlon
beLween meLaphor processes (comparlson, caLegorlzaLlon) on Lhe one hand and Lhe
lnLeracLlon beLween llngulsLlc (slmlle versus meLaphor) and concepLual (convenLlonal versus
novel) meLaphor properLles on Lhe oLher. lL ls now posslble Lo ralse more preclse quesLlons
abouL Lhls relaLlon by Laklng lnLo accounL Lhe lnLeracLlon beLween llngulsLlc form and
concepLual sLrucLure on Lhe one hand and Lhe communlcaLlve dlmenslon of meLaphor on Lhe
a. ls lL correcL LhaL dellberaLe meLaphor requlres processlng by comparlson, and non-
dellberaLe meLaphor noL necessarlly?
b. lurLhermore, when does dellberaLe meLaphor processlng by comparlson Lake place:
does lL Lake place from Lhe sLarL for boLh novel and convenLlonal dellberaLe
meLaphor (LhaL ls, from Lhe sLage of lnlLlal comprehenslon on, see Clbbs, 1994)? Cr ls
convenLlonal meLaphor (perhaps someLlmes) dlfferenL, ln LhaL lL can also be flrsL
processed by caLegorlzaLlon or lexlcal dlsamblguaLlon durlng comprehenslon, wlLh
Lhe cross-domaln mapplng Laklng place as a maLLer of posL-comprehenslon
recognlLlon and lnLerpreLaLlon, when lL has posL-hoc been reallzed LhaL a meLaphor
has been dellberaLely used as a meLaphor?

c. And flnally, and vlce versa, ls lL posslble LhaL some non-dellberaLe meLaphors are
processed by comparlson anyway, durlng comprehenslon, noL posL-comprehenslon,
for lnsLance because Lhey are based ln lmage-schemaLlc mapplngs LhaL are neurally
enLrenched, as suggesLed above?
4. Cne more speclflc concern ls Lhe quesLlon when, preclsely, meLaphors counL as dellberaLe,
boLh ln sLrucLure as well as ln processlng (SLeen, ln press b). 1he noLlon of dellberaLeness ls
complex and problemaLlc. lL has connecLlons wlLh lnLenLlons and consclousness and Lhese
need Lo be made expllclL. 8uL [usL as wlLh meLaphor lLself, or as wlLh meLaphor
convenLlonallLy and apLness, Lhe facL LhaL Lhere are graded areas ln dellberaLeness does noL
mean LhaL for many purposes of research, clear and funcLlonal conLrasLs can be deflned
whose dlfferenLlal effecL on behavlor can be emplrlcally researched. ln pracLlce, Lhere are
enLlrely clear and lmporLanL cases of dellberaLe meLaphor use, and enLlrely clear and
lmporLanL paLLerns of non-dellberaLe meLaphor use, LhaL can be compared wlLh each oLher
regardlng Lhelr worklngs.
a. Some llngulsLlc forms Lyplcally lndlcaLe dellberaLe meLaphor use, lncludlng a lexlcal
slgnal such as llke, or Lhe exLenslon of a meLaphor beyond one phrase or clause.
LxLended comparlsons and analogles beLween parLs of LexLs are also dellberaLe,
requlrlng dlscourse-sLraLeglc as opposed Lo lexlco-grammaLlcal declslons on Lhe parL
of Lhelr producer. lnsLances of word-play LhaL resL on a conLrasL beLween a
meLaphorlcal and a non-meLaphorlcal word sense, or oLher comblnaLlons beLween
meLaphor and dlfferenL Lropes, such as hyperbole, lrony, and so on, all seem Lo
requlre relaLlvely consclous rheLorlcal plannlng. Lven enLlre genres (allegory, parable,
poeLry) may counL as lncludlng expecLed lnsLrucLlons Lo Lake any or mosL or more
meLaphors ln Lhelr LexLs as dellberaLe, consLlLuLlng well-known excepLlons LhaL allow
for hlgh denslLy and processlng of dellberaLe meLaphor. lor an lnlLlal aLLempL aL an
lnvenLory whlch may be connecLed Lo Lhls dlscusslon, see CoaLly (1997).
b. 8ecognlLlon LhaL a meLaphor has been used as a meLaphor may be a clear lndlcaLlon
LhaL a meLaphor has been processed as dellberaLe. Powever, people may have
dlfferenL LargeLs of awareness of meLaphor as meLaphor, ranglng from a slmple or
vague sense of llngulsLlc or concepLual lndlrecLness, Lhrough Lhelr awareness of a
need for a non-llLeral comparlson, Lo Lhe reallzaLlon LhaL a parLlcular uLLerance
counLs as an lnsLance of Lhe flgure of LhoughL called meLaphor. And Lhere ls Lhe
quesLlon of Lhe relaLlon beLween lnLenLlon and upLake: ls a meLaphor only dellberaLe

lf lL was meanL as such by Lhe sender, or lf lL was recognlzed as such by Lhe recelver,
or boLh? Pere, Loo, more LheoreLlcal work ls Lo be done Lo gulde Lhe way Lo senslble
emplrlcal research.
Cverall, Lhese lssues may be summarlzed ln Lerms of Lhe followlng overall cenLral quesLlon:
When does meLaphorlcal LhoughL ln facL Lake place durlng lndlvldual cognlLlve processes of
language use, learnlng, rememberlng, reasonlng, and lnLeracLlng? And more speclflcally, for
language use, when does meLaphorlcal LhoughL exacLly Lake place ln comprehenslon and
undersLandlng and durlng producLlon?
1hls general quesLlon sLlll much resembles whaL lay behlnd Lhe old conLemporary Lheory of
meLaphor's research program, and goes back Lo my old dlsLlncLlon beLween meLaphor processlng
versus meLaphorlc processlng (SLeen, 1994). We sLlll have noL compleLely lefL Lhe cognlLlve-sclenLlflc
approach, focuslng on psychologlcal processes of language, LhoughL, and communlcaLlon. 1he
quesLlon can be developed lnLo a novel, more speclflc verslon ln Lhe nexL secLlon, where we wlll
promoLe oLher approaches, moreover, Lhe expecLed answer Lo Lhe quesLlon wlll be: 'much less
frequenLly Lhan predlcLed by Lhe old conLemporary Lheory'.
8y way of concludlng commenL, lL should be noLed LhaL Lhe Lhree-way dlvlslon beLween language,
LhoughL and communlcaLlon sounds very much llke Lhe approach developed ln 8elevance 1heory
(Sperber and Wllson, 2008). 8elevance 1heory also makes a dlsLlncLlon beLween preclsely Lhese Lhree
levels of analysls and Lakes language as a code whlch underdeLermlnes slLuaLed meanlng, Lherefore
requlrlng enrlchmenL ln processes of cognlLlon and communlcaLlon. 1here are lndeed lnLeresLlng
posslblllLles for collaboraLlon beLween LhaL approach and Lhe cognlLlve-llngulsLlc approach Lo
meLaphor LhaL ls cenLral Lo Lhe conLemporary Lheory (e.g. Clbbs and 1endahl, 2008). Powever, one
ma[or problem ls LhaL 8elevance 1heory does noL Lake meLaphor as a dlsLlncL phenomenon ln Lhe
flrsL place, buL prefers Lo see lL as a form of loose Lalk and pragmaLlc lnference only:
1here ls no mechanlsm speclflc Lo meLaphor, no lnLeresLlng generallzaLlon LhaL applles only
Lo Lhem. ln oLher Lerms, llngulsLlc meLaphors are noL a naLural klnd, and meLaphor" ls noL a
LheoreLlcally lmporLanL noLlon ln Lhe sLudy of verbal communlcaLlon. (2008: 84-83)
1hls ls raLher a dlfferenL sLarLlng polnL Lhan Lhe one developed here. Moreover, Lhe presenL
approach Lakes pragmaLlcs, LogeLher wlLh semanLlcs and synLax, as belonglng Lo Lhe dlmenslon of
language, noL LhoughL and communlcaLlon. 1he laLLer Lwo offer Lhelr own lndlspensable vlews of
meLaphor ln use: Lhe basls of meLaphor lles ln mapplngs across concepLual domalns (LhoughL, or
cognlLlon), and, alLhough all language use lnvolves lnLenLlonal or goal-dlrecLed behavlor, some

meLaphorlcal language use ls dellberaLely meLaphorlcal as a ploy ln communlcaLlon. lL ls aL presenL
unclear how all of Lhls can be compared wlLh each oLher, whlch ls one Lask for fuLure LheoreLlcal
dlscusslon and modellng.

3. 1he new conLemporary Lheory of meLaphor
1he old conLemporary Lheory of meLaphor reversed Lhe relaLlon beLween meLaphor ln language and
meLaphor ln LhoughL, and seL up a cognlLlve-sclenLlflc paradlgm for Lhe sLudy of meLaphor. WlLh Lhe
developmenL of oLher approaches Lo meLaphor LhaL were lnsplred by Lhls developmenL, such as
parLlcular brands of funcLlonal and applled llngulsLlcs as well as dlscourse analysls, lL has become
clear LhaL Lhe cognlLlve-llngulsLlc approach ls Loo llmlLed Lo accounL for all lmporLanL aspecLs of
meLaphor. 1he dlscovery of Lhe lmporLance of dellberaLe meLaphor ls one semlnal resulL of Lhls
developmenL: lL ls noL [usL Lhe llngulsLlc forms (e.g. meLaphor or slmlle) and concepLual sLrucLures
(e.g. convenLlonal versus novel) of meLaphor LhaL demand our aLLenLlon, buL so do lLs
communlcaLlve sLrucLures and funcLlons (such as dellberaLe versus non-dellberaLe use). As we have
seen, we need a Lhree-dlmenslonal model for meLaphor, where llngulsLlc, concepLual, and
communlcaLlve properLles of meLaphor are examlned as relaLlvely lndependenL and lnLeracLlng
aspecLs LhaL may affecL all klnds of processes ln producLlon, recepLlon, lnLeracLlon, acqulslLlon,
learnlng, malnLenance, and so on. 1he LranslLlon of meLaphor from language Lo LhoughL ln Lhe old
conLemporary Lheory ls belng followed Loday by anoLher LranslLlon, from meLaphor ln LhoughL Lo
meLaphor ln language, LhoughL, and communlcaLlon.

3.1 ulmenslons and approaches
Many quesLlons abouL Lhe new conLemporary Lheory of meLaphor may arlse aL Lhls polnL, buL we can
only address Lhem lf anoLher lmporLanL lssue has been cleared up. 1hls ls Lhe dlsLlncLlon beLween
dlmenslons and approaches. When we look aL Lhe old conLemporary Lheory, Lhere were Lwo
dlmenslons, meLaphor ln language and meLaphor ln LhoughL, and Lhese have been aL Lhe cenLer of
dlscusslon ln a number of dlsclpllnes, LhoughL belng mosL cenLral, as can be seen from Lhe LlLles of
CrLony (1979/1993) and Clbbs (2008). WlLh Lhe addlLlon of communlcaLlon, we now have Lhree
dlmenslons LhaL perLaln Lo Lhe phenomenon of meLaphor, and Lhese should be dlsLlngulshed from
Lhe dlsclpllnes concernlng Lhemselves wlLh meLaphor, whlch represenL dlsLlncL approaches. 1hus,
Lhere are llngulsLlc, or more broadly semloLlc, approaches Lo meLaphor ln language and meLaphor ln
LhoughL, Lhe besL-known of whlch ls cognlLlve llngulsLlcs, buL Lhere are also psychologlcal approaches

Lo meLaphor ln language and LhoughL, lncludlng Lhe ones referenced above (cf. SLeen, 2007, for a full
overvlew). ln addlLlon, Cameron (2007) and CoaLly (2007) have recenLly argued LhaL Lhe cognlLlve
approach should be complemenLed by a soclal approach Lo meLaphor ln language and meLaphor ln
LhoughL, reflecLlng a cenLral concern of Lhose applled llngulsLs, soclollngulsLs and dlscourse analysLs
who have examlned Lhe varlable relaLlon beLween meLaphor, language and LhoughL across slLuaLlons
of use and groups of people (cf., e.g., CharLerls-8lack, 2004, koller, 2004, Caballero, 2006, Muller,
2008, Semlno, 2008, Musolff and Zlnken, 2009, SLeen, uorsL, eL al., 2010a, b). Slnce Lhese Lhree
approaches can also all be dlsLlngulshed for Lhe new dlmenslon of meLaphor ln communlcaLlon, we
can now presenL a Lhree-by-Lhree dlvlslon of Lhe compleLe fleld of research (see Lable 2).
1oble 2
Metopbot teseotcb. ulmeosloos ooJ opptoocbes
SemloLlc sychologlcal Soclal
Language 1he llngulsLlc forms of
lndlvldual processes
and producLs of .
Shared processes and
producLs of .
1houghL (cognlLlon) 1he concepLual
sLrucLures of meLaphor
lndlvldual processes
and producLs of .
Shared processes and
producLs of .
CommunlcaLlon 1he communlcaLlve
funcLlons of meLaphor
lndlvldual processes
and producLs of .
Shared processes and
producLs of .

Lakoff's conLemporary Lheory of meLaphor and Lhe research lL has Lrlggered has mosLly been
concerned wlLh Lhe four areas ln Lhe upper lefL hand corner of Lable 2, whlch can be furLher dlvlded
lnLo more speclflc areas of research such as grammar versus usage (SLeen, 2007). 8uL even ln Lhls
resLrlcLed seL of domalns, dlsLlncLlons beLween dlmenslons and approaches have aL Llmes been
confused, whlch ls lmporLanL for evaluaLlng varlous Lypes of evldence as converglng (SLeen, 2007).
1haL ls why l wlll only make a few very cursory commenLs here abouL Lhe poLenLlal of Lhls map of Lhe
fleld. l see lL as a horlzon LhaL needs more LheoreLlcal dlscusslon and developmenL buL whlch can
help meLaphor scholars Lo become more preclse abouL Lhelr speclflc research goals and conLexLs.

Cne way Lo lllusLraLe Lhls map ls by examlnlng meLaphor ldenLlflcaLlon. WhaL counLs as a meLaphor
Lo analysLs can recelve dlverglng answers ln each of Lhe nlne areas ln Lable 2. Powever, slnce we are
speaklng of dlmenslons of Lhe same phenomenon, and approaches Lo Lhe same phenomenon, l.e.
meLaphor, Lhe answers should all be compaLlble wlLh Lhe same LheoreLlcal deflnlLlon of LhaL
phenomenon, for lnsLance as a cross-domaln mapplng. An overvlew of how Lhls can be achleved for
Lhe Lop four areas ln Lhe lefL hand corner was offered ln SLeen (2007), some of Lhe maln polnLs of
whlch feed lnLo Lhe followlng dlscusslon.
1. LlngulsLlc meLaphor ldenLlflcaLlon can be done by means of a rellable procedure whlch has
been developed over Lhe pasL decade (raggle[az Croup 2007, SLeen eL al., 2010a, b). lL does
noL make subsLanLlal assumpLlons abouL concepLual or communlcaLlve meLaphor
ldenLlflcaLlon. lL ls based on Lhe ldea LhaL meLaphor ln language exhlblLs lndlrecL meanlng,
produclng local semanLlc lncongrulLy, whlch needs Lo be connecLed Lo Lhe encompasslng
semanLlc frame of a LexL, paragraph, senLence, clause or even phrase by some form of (non-
llLeral) comparlson (SLeen, 2007). 1hls operaLlonal deflnlLlon ls compaLlble wlLh Lhe sLudy of
concepLual meLaphors ln LhoughL by cognlLlve llngulsLs, buL does noL rely on lL: all llngulsLs
can ldenLlfy meLaphor ln language by Lhls Lool, provlded Lhey accepL lLs LheoreLlcal
assumpLlons abouL lndlrecLness and comparlson.
2. 1he ldenLlflcaLlon of meLaphor ln LhoughL can Lake place ln Lwo ways: lnducLlvely and
deducLlvely. 1he deducLlve approach seLs ouL from a predeLermlned seL of concepLual
meLaphors, such as A8CuMLn1 lS WA8, LCvL lS A !Cu8nL?, PA? lS u, and so on, and aLLempLs Lo
flnd llngulsLlc expresslons LhaL are compaLlble wlLh Lhose concepLual frames. 1he lnducLlve
approach can make use of a daLaseL of llngulsLlc maLerlals LhaL are presumably meLaphorlcal
and whlch have been collecLed lndependenLly durlng llngulsLlc meLaphor ldenLlflcaLlon, and
Lhen needs Lo proceed Lo Lhe re-consLrucLlon of cross-domaln mapplngs on Lhe basls of
grouplngs of llngulsLlc cases. 8oLh meLhods are problemaLlc buL can offer rlch daLa analyses
and lnLerpreLaLlons for furLher research.
3. 1he ldenLlflcaLlon of meLaphor ln communlcaLlon LhaL has now also been placed on Lhe
agenda can make use of boLh Lhe llngulsLlc and Lhe concepLual meLaphor daLaseL and needs
Lo declde whlch of Lhese meLaphors counL as meLaphorlcal Lo Lhe language users
parLlclpaLlng ln Lhe dlscourse. As l have suggesLed, one lmporLanL quesLlon ln Lhls regard ls
wheLher meLaphors can be ldenLlfled as dellberaLe or non-dellberaLe (SLeen, ln press b). ln
parLlcular, whlch formal, concepLual and communlcaLlve aspecLs ln Lhe semloLlc sLrucLure of

meLaphor can be seen as slgnallng Lhe dellberaLe use of a meLaphor? A meLhod for Lhls Lype
of ldenLlflcaLlon sLlll needs Lo be developed and LesLed.
We are currenLly worklng on Lhe developmenL of analyLlcal Lools for concepLual and communlcaLlve
meLaphor ldenLlflcaLlon wlLhln Lhe framework of a new lnLerpreLaLlon of Lhe flve-sLep meLhod of
meLaphor ldenLlflcaLlon and analysls (SLeen, 1999b, 2009). MeLhodologlcal dlfflculLles vary beLween
Lhe Lhree dlmenslons, and Lhls ralses fundamenLal quesLlons abouL Lhe comparablllLy of our semloLlc
knowledge abouL meLaphor ln language, LhoughL, and communlcaLlon. 1hese quesLlons need Lo be
addressed ln order for meLaphor research Lo become evenLually appllcable ln all sorLs of domalns of
MeLaphor ldenLlflcaLlon from a semloLlc angle ls dlfferenL Lo meLaphor ldenLlflcaLlon from a
behavloral angle, whlch looks aL psychologlcal or soclal processes lnvolvlng real people ln real Llme.
lor a semloLlc approach, we lnvesLlgaLe symbollc daLa, Lyplcally LexLs and LranscrlpLs, and ldenLlfy
parLlcular classes of slgns and slgn sLrucLures as meLaphorlcal, as lllusLraLed [usL now, Lhls may Lake
place ln dlsLlncL ways for Lhe dlmenslons of language, LhoughL, and communlcaLlon. 8uL for a
psychologlcal or soclal approach, we need Lo answer Lhe quesLlon how meLaphor can be ldenLlfled ln
behavloral daLa, lncludlng language and LhoughL processes and Lhelr producLs, and paLLerns of
communlcaLlve lnLeracLlon. 1hls ls Lhe Lype of meLhodologlcal dlfference LhaL Lakoff (2008b: 196)
also alludes Lo ln Lhe quoLaLlon above, when he speaks of Lhe dlfference beLween conLenL analysls
and fM8ls. 1he psychologlcal approach has Lo look aL lndlvldual behavlor, and Lhe soclal approach aL
co-ordlnaLed behavlor beLween lndlvlduals or groups of lndlvlduals. 1he psychologlcal approach ls
based on Lhe assumpLlon LhaL lndlvlduals need menLal represenLaLlons of meLaphor ln language,
LhoughL, and communlcaLlon, as Lhey need menLal represenLaLlons of all parLs of language, LhoughL,
and communlcaLlon (for well-known models, see Clark, 1996, van ul[k and klnLsch, 1983). 1he soclal
approach assumes LhaL Lhere are supra-lndlvldual or shared represenLaLlons of meLaphor ln
language, LhoughL, and communlcaLlon, whlch are absLracLlons across lndlvlduals who are lnLeracLlng
wlLh each oLher, Lhls soclal level of represenLaLlon ls a complex area of research, whlch has recenLly
begun Lo be sLudled from a complex sysLems perspecLlve by for lnsLance Cameron and her colleagues
(e.g., Cameron, Maslen, eL al., 2009).
lor a psychologlcal approach Lo ldenLlfy a meLaphor ln language, we would need Lo have emplrlcal
evldence LhaL Lwo dlsLlncL senses are ln facL acLlvaLed and relaLed Lo each oLher ln an lndlvldual's
mlnd. And for a psychologlcal approach Lo ldenLlfy a meLaphor ln LhoughL, we would need Lo have
evldence LhaL Lwo dlsLlncL concepLual domalns are ln facL acLlvaLed and relaLed Lo each oLher ln an
lndlvldual's mlnd. 1he psychologlcal ldenLlflcaLlon of meLaphor ln communlcaLlon, flnally, would

need Lo produce evldence LhaL an lndlvldual ls aware LhaL Lhey are produclng or recelvlng a
meLaphor as a meLaphor, Lhls would relaLe Lo evldence for meLaphor recognlLlon, whlch ls Lyplcally a
posL-comprehenslon process. All of Lhese LargeLs can only be achleved by looklng aL Lhe
psychologlcal behavlor of people ln acLlon.
lor Lhe soclal approach, Lhe crlLerlon would shlfL from flndlng meLaphor ln lndlvldual behavlor Lo
flndlng meLaphor ln behavlor beLween lndlvlduals. lL would ralse Lhe quesLlon when meLaphor occurs
ln language, LhoughL, or communlcaLlon from Lhe perspecLlve of lnLeracLlon as dlsLlngulshed from
lndlvldual behavlor. lor a soclal approach Lo meLaphor ln language, Lhe quesLlon mlghL arlse wheLher
whaL counLs as a meLaphor ln language Lo one parLy ln a dlscourse evenL also counLs as a meLaphor
ln language Lo anoLher parLy, whlch mlghL vary on accounL of people uslng dlverglng language
varleLles. lor Lhe soclal approach Lo meLaphor ln LhoughL, we would have Lo collecL evldence LhaL
boLh parLles ln a dlscourse evenL are engaged ln Lhlnklng abouL Lhe same ldea ln Lerms of Lhe same
allen source domaln-LhaL a meLaphor ls Lhere ln Lhelr shared (as opposed Lo prlvaLe) represenLaLlon
of a parLlcular Loplc. lor a soclal approach Lo meLaphor ln communlcaLlon, we would need Lo have
evldence LhaL an uLLerance or parL of an uLLerance ls percelved as meLaphorlcally used by boLh
parLles ln Lhe dlscourse-LhaL a meLaphor ls seen as belng meLaphorlcal aL Lhe shared level of
represenLaLlon. Agaln, all of Lhese LargeLs can only be achleved lf Lhey are based on behavloral daLa
lnvolvlng all parLlclpanLs ln a dlscourse evenL. WhaL ls more, Lhey are new quesLlons LhaL have noL
been addressed ln Lhe old conLemporary Lheory, whlch Lended Lo reduce Lhem Lo lndlvldual,
psychologlcal ones, or would assume LhaL cognlLlve represenLaLlons are also soclally shared ln
ldenLlcal forms beLween people. 1he soclal varlanL of Lhe cenLral quesLlon for meLaphor research
formulaLed ln Lhe prevlous secLlon Lherefore asks:
When does meLaphorlcal LhoughL ln facL Lake place durlng shared processes of language use,
learnlng, rememberlng, reasonlng, and lnLeracLlng? And more speclflcally, for language use,
when does meLaphorlcal LhoughL exacLly Lake place ln co-ordlnaLed lnLeracLlon?
Why ls lL lmporLanL Lo make Lhls dlsLlncLlon beLween dlmenslons and approaches? 1hls ls mosLly for
concepLual and Lermlnologlcal reasons. lor lnsLance, Lhe exLenslon l have proposed of Lhe
conLemporary Lheory of meLaphor from language and LhoughL Lo communlcaLlon ls noL Lhe same as
shlfLlng from a psychologlcal Lo a soclal approach, as mlghL be naLural Lo assume. CommunlcaLlon ls
noL [usL a soclal affalr buL ls also sLudled from a psychologlcal perspecLlve, as Lyplcally Lakes place ln
soclal psychology. 1hus, Sopory and ulllard (2002) have revlewed Lhe persuaslve effecLs of meLaphor
ln dlscourse from a soclal-psychologlcal angle, where effecL ls ofLen examlned ln Lhe framework of
Lhe LlaboraLlon Llkellhood Model, whlch ls one useful soclal-psychologlcal way of looklng aL Lhe

communlcaLlve funcLlon of meLaphor ln dlscourse processlng. vlce versa, LhoughL or cognlLlon ls noL
[usL a maLLer of psychology buL can also be looked aL from a soclal perspecLlve, as has happened ln
some applled-llngulsLlc, dlscourse-analyLlcal and anLhropologlcal approaches. 1hls careful
dlfferenLlaLlon beLween dlmenslons and approaches ls anoLher parL of whaL dlsLlngulshes Lhe new
conLemporary Lheory from Lhe old one: Lhere, communlcaLlon and Lhe soclal approach were elLher
lgnored or reduced Lo cognlLlve-sclenLlflc lssues abouL language and LhoughL only. lndlvldual and
soclal dlfferences and varlaLlon have only recenLly been placed on Lhe cognlLlve-llngulsLlc agenda
(e.g. 8lasko, 1999).
Moreover, lL has ofLen been backgrounded ln cognlLlve llngulsLlcs LhaL 'cognlLlve' ls noL ldenLlcal wlLh
'psychologlcal': many 'cognlLlve' analyses of meLaphor consLlLuLe semloLlc approaches Lo meLaphor
ln LhoughL, analyzlng concepLual sLrucLures and sysLems as slgn complexes, noL as behavloral,
psychologlcal processes and Lhelr menLal producLs-as has also been polnLed ouL by for lnsLance
Clbbs (2006) and McClone (2007). 1hls conflaLlon, lL should be noLed, ls Lhe maln reason why
'meLaphor ln LhoughL' can refer Lo Lwo aspecLs of Lhe map of Lhe fleld: elLher Lo Lhe row labeled
'LhoughL', Lo be conLrasLed wlLh language and communlcaLlon (buL poLenLlally lncludlng semloLlc,
psychologlcal, and soclal approaches Lo LhoughL), or Lo Lhe column labeled 'psychologlcal process', Lo
be conLrasLed wlLh semloLlc sLrucLure and soclal paLLerns (buL poLenLlally lncludlng llngulsLlc,
concepLual, and communlcaLlve processes). ln Lhe new conLemporary Lheory of meLaphor, Lhese
dlsLlncLlons are expllclLly and sysLemaLlcally kepL ln vlew, whlch produces a number of new
perspecLlves on how meLaphor works.
Pavlng sald all Lhls, Lhe radlcally concepLual polnL of deparLure of Lhe old conLemporary Lheory, LhaL
meLaphor ls deflned as a mapplng across concepLual domalns, may clearly be reLalned as Lhe mosL
producLlve and besL embedded LheoreLlcal deflnlLlon of meLaphor. 1hls has been Lhe ma[or
achlevemenL of Lhe old conLemporary Lheory. lL affords formulaLlng operaLlonal deflnlLlons LhaL may
naLurally vary beLween Lhe areas of research dlsLlngulshed ln Lhe above map of Lhe fleld. 1he map,
moreover, explalns how lL ls posslble Lo have one sLable LheoreLlcal deflnlLlon of meLaphor as a
mapplng beLween concepLual domalns or spaces or caLegorles, on Lhe one hand, whlch may on Lhe
oLher hand be used ln more speclflc ways Lo sLudy meLaphor ln LhoughL, language, and
communlcaLlon ln a range of semloLlc, psychologlcal and even soclal approaches. Cnly ln Lhls way ls lL
ln facL posslble Lo sLudy meLaphor ln lLs varlous manlfesLaLlons across Lhe soclal and cognlLlve
sclences as well as Lhe humanlLles whlle keeplng an eye on Lhe poslLlon of Lhese manlfesLaLlons ln
Lhe overall plcLure, lncludlng areas LhaL lle ouLslde ones lmmedlaLe purvlew. And only ln Lhls way ls lL
posslble Lo remaln respecLful of alLernaLlve approaches, and noL dlsmlss Lhelr LheoreLlcal concepLs as
'convenlenL flcLlons' (conLra Clucksberg and PaughL, 2006: 377).

An approprlaLe label for Lhe lnLerdlsclpllnary framework of Lhe new conLemporary Lheory of
meLaphor mlghL be 'dlscourse-analyLlcal'. ulscourse analysls comes ln varlous forms, buL lL clearly
encompasses boLh Lhe Lhree dlmenslons of language, LhoughL, and communlcaLlon, as well as Lhe
Lhree approaches of semloLlc, psychologlcal and soclal analysls (e.g., PamllLon eL al., 2001). A revlew
of CrlLlcal ulscourse Analysls by 1eun van ul[k suggesLs Lhe same (van ul[k, 2001). 1here are several
meLaphor scholars who have recenLly framed Lhelr work ln Lhls Lype of lnLerdlsclpllnary envlronmenL
(e.g., Caballero, Cameron, CharLerls-8lack, ChllLon, CoaLly, koller, Musolff, Muller, Semlno), and lL
naLurally accommodaLes Lhe mulLlmodal as opposed Lo merely llngulsLlc expresslon of meLaphor, so
LhaL Lhe label ls sufflclenLly reflecLlve of currenL Lrends ln meLaphor research. ?eL Lhere ls one
problem wlLh calllng Lhls framework 'dlscourse-analyLlcal', for LhaL seems Lo prlvllege aLLenLlon Lo
shorL-Lerm maLLers of meLaphor performance ln dlscourse aL Lhe cosL of long-Lerm quesLlons havlng
Lo do wlLh meLaphor compeLence: acqulslLlon and learnlng, knowledge represenLaLlon and memory,
varlaLlon and change and so on are noL Lyplcally sLudled as such under Lhe label of dlscourse sLudles.
lL ls also Lrue, Lhough, LhaL Lhese Lypes of sLudles ofLen have Lo make use of performance daLa from
dlscourse evenLs Lo absLracL and reconsLrucL long-Lerm semloLlc, psychologlcal and soclal processes
and producLs of language, LhoughL, and communlcaLlon. As long as Lhls caveaL ls born ln mlnd, calllng
Lhe new conLemporary Lheory of meLaphor 'dlscourse-analyLlcal' mlghL be [usL as lnformaLlve and
agenda-seLLlng as calllng Lhe old conLemporary Lheory 'cognlLlve-sclenLlflc'.

3.2 MeLaphor ln dlscourse
1he developmenLs of Lhe pasL Lwo decades have conLrlbuLed Lo produclng Lhe followlng new flndlngs
ln our own research on meLaphor ln dlscourse (SLeen, uorsL, Perrmann, kaal, krennmayr, & asma,
2010, SLeen, uorsL, Perrmann, kaal, & krennmayr, 2010). Cur observaLlons are based on Lhe
appllcaLlon of a unlquely rellable meLhod of meLaphor ldenLlflcaLlon, four lndependenLly worklng
analysLs achlevlng on average over 90 unanlmous agreemenL ln Lhelr declslons abouL whlch words
counL as an expresslon of meLaphor or noL. Moreover, Lhls was done ln Lwo relaLlvely large-slzed seLs
of maLerlals, abouL 190,000 words of 8rlLlsh Lngllsh from Lhe 8rlLlsh naLlonal Corpus and over
100,000 words of uuLch sampled from exlsLlng newspaper and conversaLlon corpora.
A preclse lndlcaLlon of Lhe assumed ublqulLy of meLaphor ln dlscourse has so far been mlsslng. Cur
research shows LhaL, aL Lhe level of llngulsLlc forms, Lhe average percenLage of meLaphors ln naLural
dlscourse ls 13.6. 1hese are words LhaL have been ldenLlfled as poLenLlal expresslons of underlylng
cross-domaln mapplngs on Lhe basls of Mlvu, an exLended and reflned verslon of Ml, Lhe
MeLaphor ldenLlflcaLlon rocedure publlshed by Lhe raggle[az Croup (2007). Cne ln every seven Lo

elghL words ls meLaphorlcal, whlch means LhaL all oLher ones are noL. MeLaphor may be ublqulLous,
buL our llves Lend Lo be non-meLaphorlcal raLher Lhan meLaphorlcal.
A preclse lndlcaLlon of Lhe proporLlon of convenLlonal versus novel concepLual sLrucLures of
meLaphor ln dlscourse has also been mlsslng. We have found LhaL an esLlmaLed 99 of all meLaphor-
relaLed words have Lhelr meLaphorlcal sense descrlbed ln conLemporary language users' dlcLlonarles.
1he bulk of meLaphor ln dlscourse ls convenLlonal, and only 1 ls novel. MeLaphor may be made up
on Lhe spoL, buL as a rule lL ls noL-noL even ln flcLlon, whlch was parL of our daLa. lf Lhls ls a dlrecL
reflecLlon of our concepLual sysLems, Lhen mosL meLaphorlcal LhoughL would also be convenLlonal.
AbouL 0.3 of all meLaphorlcally used words are accompanled by a lexlcal slgnal for meLaphor, such
as Lhe preposlLlon llke. lL ls posslble LhaL our deflnlLlon may have been Loo sLrlcL here, for lL excluded
words llke meotol ln meotol locootloeoce (cf. CoaLly, 1997), buL random vlsual lnspecLlon suggesLs
LhaL Lhls wlll noL dramaLlcally alLer Lhe overall proporLlon. Cur flndlng suggesLs, Lhen, LhaL only one ln
every hundred meLaphorlcally used words has an expllclL llngulsLlc slgnal for lLs meLaphorlcal use.
MeLaphor ln dlscourse ls Lyplcally noL slgnaled.
Slgnallng corresponds wlLh one group of dellberaLe meLaphors, buL does noL exhausL lL, because
mulLlple, serlallzed and exLended meLaphor are ofLen dellberaLe and do noL have Lo be slgnaled.
Moreover, slgnaled meLaphors Lyplcally comprlse more Lhan one meLaphor-relaLed word. 1here are
hence much more dellberaLe meLaphor-relaLed words Lhan novel ones, Lhe laLLer comprlslng abouL
1. lL follows LhaL dellberaLe meLaphor ls convenLlonal raLher Lhan novel, whlch goes agalnsL
Cameron's (2003) Laxonomy and querles Semlno's (2008: 19) lnLulLlon LhaL 'CLher Lhlngs belng equal,
Lhe more convenLlonal a meLaphorlcal expresslon, Lhe less llkely lL ls LhaL lL wlll be consclously used
and recognlzed as a meLaphor.' uellberaLe meLaphor Lyplcally seems Lo be a maLLer of revlLallzaLlon
of avallable llngulsLlc forms and concepLual sLrucLures, noL Lhe creaLlon of novel ones, whlch ralses
lnLeresLlng new quesLlons for meLaphor ln language, LhoughL, and communlcaLlon.
1here ls conslderable varlaLlon ln Lhe spread of Lhese meLaphor-relaLed words across Lhree
funcLlonally dlfferenL llngulsLlc forms of meLaphor:
1. 98 of all meLaphor ls of Lhe form Lyplcally used ln cognlLlve-llngulsLlc lllusLraLlons of
concepLual meLaphors, such as Lhe LCvL lS A !Cu8nL? meLaphor exempllfled aL Lhe beglnnlng
of Lhls arLlcle: Lhese are 'lndlrecL' meLaphors, ln LhaL Lhey depend on Lhe lndlrecL meanlng of
a word used ln conLexL (cf. Lakoff, 1993, Clbbs, 1994). An example ls lokoff ottockeJ
Clocksbetq, where ottockeJ ls meLaphorlcal because lL lndlrecLly deslgnaLes an 'argumenL'

acLlon ln Lhe sLaLe of affalrs lL ls abouL, namely vla lLs more baslc 'war' sense-or so Lhe
cognlLlve-llngulsLlc argumenL goes.
2. AbouL 1 of all meLaphor ls noL lndlrecL buL 'dlrecL': lL works by dlrecLly deslgnaLlng a
referenL from a source domaln from whlch a concepLual mapplng has Lo be made Lo a LargeL
domaln by Lhe addressee lf Lhey wanL Lo lnLerpreL Lhe senLence. 1hls ls Lyplcally Lhe case for
slmlle, as has also been noLed by Clucksberg ln Lhe framework of hls dual-reference Lheory
for caLegorlzaLlon (cf. 2008). ln 5cleoce ls llke o qloclet, Lhe addressee ls lnsLrucLed Lo seL up a
sLaLe of affalrs ln whlch we have boLh sclence and a glacler. ln our work, we assume LhaL all
llngulsLlcally dlrecL meLaphor ls also dellberaLe ln communlcaLlon, slnce lL forces language
users Lo seL up an allen concepLual and referenLlal domaln ln Lhe on-golng dlscourse LhaL ls
abouL someLhlng else. 1hese allen referenLs requlre aLLenLlon whlch ls [usL as consclous as
Lhe aLLenLlon pald Lo Lhe LargeL-domaln referenLs. Colng by Lhe flgure LhaL Lhls ls [usL one
percenL, Lhe concluslon here ls LhaL dlrecL meLaphor, and Lherefore also Lhls parLlcular Lype
of dellberaLe meLaphor, occurs exLremely seldom.
3. AnoLher 1 of all meLaphor-relaLed words ln dlscourse ls 'lmpllclL'. An example may help Lo
lllusLraLe Lhe naLure of Lhls Lype of llngulsLlc expresslon of meLaphor:
lor Lhree reasons such a move should be welcomed. llrsL ltjmove, M] would brlng
8rlLaln lnLo llne wlLh Lhe besL Luropean pracLlce, . Second ltjmove, M] would ensure
LhaL workers en[oyed poslLlve rlghLs under law and reduce Lhe emphasls of unlon
lmmunlLles (A1l-fragmenL09)
Some meLaphor ln LhoughL ls expressed by words LhaL are noL semanLlcally relaLed Lo any
source or LargeL domalns, buL LhaL Lyplcally have general lexlco-grammaLlcal funcLlons: Lhey
are devlces of coheslon (Palllday and Pasan, 1976). 1he above example shows LhaL, lf move ls
seen as Lhe llngulsLlc expresslon of a cross-domaln mapplng ln LhoughL, Lhen lt ln Lhe Lwo
followlng senLences should be Loo. (And lf Lhls caLegory ls deemed unworLhy of aLLenLlon,
Lhen so should Lhe prevlous caLegory, whlch baslcally concerns slmlle, be scrapped from Lhe
1here ls conslderable varlaLlon ln Lhe spread of Lhese meLaphor-relaLed words across elghL dlsLlncL
word classes. Average percenLages place meLaphorlcal use of preposlLlons and deLermlners
(lncludlng tbls, tbot, tbese, tbose) aL Lhe Lop, above 30, of verbs, nouns, ad[ecLlves, and adverbs ln
Lhe mlddle, beLween abouL 23 and 10, and of con[uncLlons and all oLher funcLlon words aL Lhe
boLLom, aL less Lhan 2. 1haL preposlLlons come hlghesL ls no surprlse, as Lhey have frequenL

Lemporal and absLracL uses (1lML lS SACL). 1haL deLermlners are ln second place ls news, and has noL
been glven much aLLenLlon ln Lhe llLeraLure so far, Lhe hlgh score ls due Lo Lhelr frequenL use ln
esLabllshlng coherence by absLracL anaphora Lo prevlous parLs of a dlscourse (ulSCCu8SL lS SACL). lor
Lhe four ma[or conLenL word classes, Lhere ls a clear cllne ln meLaphorlcal use from verbs Lhrough
nouns and ad[ecLlves Lo adverbs, buL ln general, lL ls Lhe clusLer of preposlLlons, verbs, and nouns
LhaL accounLs for Lhe bulk of meLaphor-relaLed words ln dlscourse: beLween Lhe Lhree of Lhem, Lhey
comprlse an average low 63 of all meLaphor ln conversaLlons Lo an average hlgh 80 ln news and
academlc dlscourse. Con[uncLlons and oLher funcLlon words ln general do noL have enough semanLlc
conLenL Lo allow for frequenL opposlLlons beLween baslc non-meLaphorlcal and conLexLual
meLaphorlcal senses.
1here ls conslderable varlaLlon ln Lhe spread of Lhese meLaphor-relaLed words across four reglsLers.
1he hlghesL percenLage of meLaphor-relaLed words can be found ln academlc dlscourse (18.3),
followed by news LexLs (16.4) and flcLlon (11.8), whlle conversaLlon has Lhe lowesL (7.7). 1he
surprlslngly hlgh poslLlon of academlc dlscourse and low poslLlon of flcLlon can ln parL be explalned
by noLlng LhaL Lhe overall order reflecLs Lhe way Lhese four reglsLers score on 8lber's (1988, 1989)
reglsLer dlmenslon of lnformaLlonal versus lnvolved producLlon: Lhe hlgh lnformaLlon value of
academlc dlscourse and news conLrasL wlLh Lhe low lnformaLlon value of conversaLlon, whlle, vlce
versa, conversaLlons are hlghly lnvolved whereas news and academlc LexLs are noL. llcLlon,
comblnlng narraLlve plus dlalogue, slLs ln Lhe mlddle. MeLaphor apparenLly co-varles wlLh Lhls
(blggesL) reglsLer dlmenslon. 1hls may be broughL ln llne wlLh meLaphor's generally assumed
concepLual funcLlon, lL provldes subsLanLlal corpus-llngulsLlc supporL Lo a cenLral LeneL of Lhe old
conLemporary Lheory, LhaL meLaphor ls for undersLandlng one plece of lnformaLlon ln Lerms of
anoLher. Cne caveaL needs Lo be borne ln mlnd Lhough: Lhe naLure of Lhe conversaLlons used ln our
research ls relaLlvely llghL on conLenL, and only lncludes casual verbal lnLeracLlon, Lhe quesLlon arlses
whaL happens Lo Lhe lnformaLlon value of 'conversaLlons' lf lecLures, classes, buslness meeLlngs, or
pollLlcal gaLherlngs are added.
lL Lurns ouL LhaL boLh of Lhese flndlngs, abouL meLaphor ln word class and meLaphor ln reglsLer,
should be explalned by a newly revealed Lhree-way lnLeracLlon beLween reglsLer, word-class and
meLaphor. We know LhaL Lhere ls a Lwo-way assoclaLlon beLween reglsLer and word-class, descrlbed
by uouglas 8lber (1988, 1989). When we now add ln Lhe overall rank order of Lhe four reglsLers
regardlng meLaphor frequency menLloned under (3b), we noLe LhaL Lhe relaLlon beLween meLaphor
and word-class generally follows Lhe ups and downs for a word class wlLhln a parLlcular reglsLer
(SLeen, uorsL, eL al., 2010a): for lnsLance, a hlgh flgure for meLaphorlcal verbs ln conversaLlons
correlaLes wlLh a regularly hlgh use of verbs ln conversaLlon ln general. Powever, preposlLlons,

deLermlners, and verbs Lend Lo have relaLlvely hlgher meLaphorlcal uses Lhan may be expecLed
agalnsL Lhls background, whlch makes Lhem relaLlvely meLaphorlcal word classes. 8y conLrasL,
con[uncLlons and all oLher grammaLlcal words dlsplay Lhe opposlLe Lendency: Lhey have relaLlvely
lower meLaphorlcal uses Lhan may be expecLed on Lhe basls of Lhelr expecLed frequencles ln speclflc
reglsLers. More speclflc and dlverglng varlaLlon ln Lhe Lhree-way relaLlon beLween meLaphor, word
class and reglsLer ls dlsplayed by nouns, ad[ecLlves and adverbs (for dlscusslon, see SLeen, uorsL, eL
al., 2010a). Cverall, Lhen, Lhe bulk of meLaphor ln dlscourse ls noL speclal buL can be explalned wlLh
reference Lo general properLles of Lhe relaLlon beLween word class and reglsLer (cf. C'Palloran, 2007)
whlle, aL Lhe same Llme, Lhere may be a llLLle surplus or lack per word class whlch may need
addlLlonal explanaLlon.
1he Lhree-way lnLeracLlon beLween reglsLer, word-class and meLaphor ls baslcally due Lo paLLerns of
varlaLlon ln lndlrecL meLaphors of Lhe Lype of lo 1999 or JefeoJloq o tbesls, slnce Lhey comprlse 98
of all meLaphor. Powever, Lhls ls noL Lhe whole sLory. 1he dlsLrlbuLlon of Lhe one percenL of dlrecL
meLaphor (noLably, slmlle and exLended comparlson) does noL parallel Lhe dlsLrlbuLlon of lndlrecL
meLaphor. As noLed, lndlrecL meLaphor goes down from mosL frequenL ln academlc Lhrough flcLlon
and news Lo conversaLlon. ulrecL meLaphor, by conLrasL, occurs mosL ofLen ln flcLlon whlle lL seems
Lo be leasL frequenL ln academlc dlscourse and conversaLlon. Slnce we may assume LhaL dlrecL
meLaphor ls one form of dellberaLe meLaphor, Lhls flndlng enLalls LhaL Lhe lmporLanL role of
meLaphor ln llLeraLure may ln facL be aLLrlbuLable Lo Lhe role of dlrecL, dellberaLe meLaphor.
LlLeraLure may be a domaln of dlscourse LhaL allows for Lhe rheLorlcal explolLaLlon of meLaphor Lo a
greaLer exLenL Lhan mosL oLher domalns of dlscourse, such as conversaLlon (SLeen, 1994). And even
Lhough dellberaLe meLaphor may noL be very frequenL overall, lL ls Lhe only Lype of meLaphor LhaL
lmplnges on our consclousness as meLaphorlcal, whlch may be one of Lhe mosL relevanL facLs abouL
meLaphor ln llLeraLure versus oLher Lypes of dlscourse Lo Lhe general publlc (Semlno and SLeen,
1hese flndlngs abouL meLaphor ln dlscourse are qulLe compaLlble wlLh an overall vlew ln whlch noL a
loL of meLaphorlcal LhoughL ln Lhe sense of on-llne cross-domaln processlng goes on, even ln llLerary
readlng: lf mosL meLaphor ls convenLlonal and noL dellberaLe, lL may also Lurn ouL Lo be processed by
lexlcal dlsamblguaLlon. 1hls has creaLed a paradox of meLaphor: lL ls llkely LhaL mosL meLaphor ls noL
processed meLaphorlcally, by cross-domaln mapplng (SLeen, 2008). A caveaL LhaL needs Lo be
lnserLed here ls LhaL we do noL know how many of Lhese convenLlonal non-dellberaLe meLaphors
may sLlll be processed by cross-domaln mapplng durlng lmmedlaLe unconsclous comprehenslon, for
lnsLance because Lhey are prlmary meLaphors LhaL are based ln embodled cross-domaln mapplngs ln

Lhe braln. ln general, lL ls Lherefore lmporLanL Lo speclfy whlch Lypes of meLaphors may be processed
meLaphorlcally ln whlch conLexLs of dlscourse.

3.3 1he dlscourse career of meLaphor
1hls naLurally leads on Lo a conslderaLlon of Lhe soclal aspecL of meLaphor ln language, LhoughL, and
communlcaLlon. lor Lhe Lyplcal quesLlon ralsed ln a soclal-sclenLlflc as opposed Lo elLher a cognlLlve-
sclenLlflc or semloLlc approach ls: how does meLaphor ln language, LhoughL and communlcaLlon work
ln and across slLuaLlons of use ln a parLlcular domaln of dlscourse, such as llLeraLure and Lhe arLs
(kennedy, 2008, Semlno and SLeen, 2008, Shen, 2008), organlzaLlon and managemenL (Morgan,
2006, Cornellssen eL al., 2008), healLh and care (e.g., 8orbely, 2008, McMullen, 2008), educaLlon and
sclence (8rown, 2003, Low, 2008), pollLlcs and governmenL (Carver and lkalo, 2007), or rellglon and
Lhe law (CharLerls-8lack, 2004, WlnLer, 2008). lrom a soclal perspecLlve, Lhe quesLlon becomes how
a parLlcularly lnLeresLlng or lmporLanL meLaphor or seL of meLaphors ls formulaLed, developed,
shared, passed on, explolLed, Lransformed, and so on, beLween lndlvldual and groups of parLlclpanLs
wlLhln and across dlscourse evenLs. Well-known ln sclence and educaLlon, for lnsLance, are Lhe
meLaphorlcal models of elecLrlclLy as a fluld, or of llghL as waves. Pow have Lhese been developed
and accepLed, and how are Lhey used ln Leachlng, research, and ln publlc dlscourse? uo Lhey always
requlre processlng by cross-domaln mapplng, ln all of Lhe varlous sLages ln whlch Lhey are uLlllzed ln
a communlLy? Cr are Lhey off-loaded on Lo culLure ln Lhe way descrlbed by Clbbs (1999b)?
MosL cognlLlve sclenLlsLs supporLlve of Lhe concepLual vlew of meLaphor LaclLly, and
someLlmes expllclLly, assume LhaL convenLlonal meLaphorlcal mapplngs musL be lnLernally
represenLed ln Lhe lndlvldual mlnds of language users. l wanL Lo examlne Lhls assumpLlon and
suggesL LhaL cognlLlve llngulsLs and cognlLlve psychologlsLs, llke myself, should Lhlnk abouL
meLaphor and lLs relaLlon Lo LhoughL as cognlLlve webs LhaL exLend beyond lndlvldual mlnds
and are spread ouL lnLo Lhe culLural world. (1999b: 146)
1hls ls a quesLlon abouL Lhe soclal dynamlcs of meLaphor. 1ogeLher wlLh lLs semloLlc and
psychologlcal complemenLs, lL leads Lo noLhlng less Lhan a full-blown dlscourse-analyLlcal verslon of
Lhe Career of MeLaphor 1heory: how does meLaphor arlse, develop, dle, and how can lL be revlLallzed
ln dlscourse (of whlch language processlng ls [usL one parL) (cf. Musolff and Zlnken, 2009, Muller,

ursulng Lhese ldeas a llLLle furLher, we may ralse Lhe quesLlon wheLher lL ls posslble Lo make a
funcLlonal dlsLlncLlon beLween aL leasL four classes of 'meLaphors ln LhoughL' when Lhey are
approached from Lhe soclal perspecLlve clrcumscrlbed above:
1. Offlclol metopbotlcol moJels
MeLaphors ln LhoughL LhaL are offlclally lnsLllled by formal educaLlon on Lhe basls of expllclL
formulaLlon ln wrlLLen or spoken LexLs as culLurally sancLloned models of reallLy, Lhese would
lnclude all accepLed rellglous knowledge as well as sclenLlflc models of reallLy LhaL are based
on meLaphor, such as Lhe aLom as a solar sysLem, Lhe mlnd as a compuLer, or Lhe
organlzaLlon as a machlne (e.g. 8rown, 2003, Morgan, 2006, CoaLly, 2007, cf. Semlno, 2008).
2. cootesteJ metopbotlcol moJels
MeLaphors ln LhoughL LhaL for some Llme are ln Lhe focus of Lhe publlc debaLe, Lyplcally ln
Lhe news medla, as poLenLlally (ln)adequaLe or (ln)approprlaLe meLaphorlcal models of some
phenomenon, Lhese would lnclude all pollLlcally conLroverslal meLaphorlcal lmages of reallLy,
such as Plv/AluS as 'Lhe plague' (SonLag, 1988) or Ceorge 8ush's 'war on Lerror' (e.g. kleln,
2007) (cf. Musolff, 2004).
3. lmpllclt metopbotlcol moJels
MeLaphors ln LhoughL LhaL reflecL culLural models LhaL are on Lhe one hand Lyplcally lmpllclL
buL LhaL on Lhe oLher hand are also Lyplcally made expllclL as folklore ln culLural arLlfacLs such
as popular songs and lmages (love ls tbe Jtoq, love ls solclJe, llfe ls o stoqe), adverLlslng, as
well as hlgh-level culLural LradlLlons ln llLeraLure and Lhe arLs (e.g., lorcevllle, 2008, kennedy,
2008, Semlno and SLeen, 2008).
4. metqloq metopbotlcol moJels
1hese meLaphors ln LhoughL Lyplcally emerge ln oLher Lypes of soclal lnLeracLlon, for lnsLance
ln professlonal or prlvaLe buslness slLuaLlons (e.g., Cameron, 2007, Cornellssen eL al., 2008).
1hey are based any of Lhe above meLaphorlcal models, buL also ln embodled experlences of
reallLy represenLlng correspondences beLween lmage schemas and absLracL Lhlnklng (prlmary
meLaphors, lncludlng u8CSLS A8L uLS1lnA1lCnS and PA? lS u, whlch appear Lo dlsplay a
relaLlve consLancy wlLhln a culLure and are Lherefore Lyplcally assumed and soclally shared
beLween members of LhaL culLure, kvecses, 2003).

Cf course, Lhere mlghL be more classes, buL Lhls seL offers a useful sLarLlng polnL for presenLlng a
number of LheoreLlcal posslblllLles. WhaL exacLly ls soclally shared ln Lhe use of one of Lhese classes,
and how Lhls Lakes place ln concreLe, dynamlc processes of soclal lnLeracLlon, ls poLenLlally very
dlfferenL from whaL happens ln anoLher of Lhese classes (cf. Shore, 1996, almer, 1996, Musolff,
2004, Semlno, 2008, Musolff and Zlnken, 2009).
1. ln Lhe group of offlclal meLaphorlcal models, sclenLlflc ones may once have been novel buL
musL laLer have become sufflclenLly convenLlonallzed and valldaLed ln pracLlce Lo end up ln
Lhe domaln of publlc knowledge. When novel, Lhey would have been lnLroduced dellberaLely
ln probably exLended dlscurslve forms for concepLual developmenL and flne-Lunlng of Lhelr
lnformaLlon value, when convenLlonallzed, Lhey would Lend Lo be used auLomaLlcally and
unconsclously ln reduced forms as professlonal [argon polnLlng Lo complex concepLual
sysLems. AlLernaLlvely, Lhey mlghL be revlLallzed as meLaphorlcal models for explanaLory and
lnsLrucLlve purposes ln speclflc dlscurslve conLexLs.
2. 8y conLrasL, conLesLed meLaphorlcal models mlghL be Lyplcally novel, aL leasL ln Lhelr
llngulsLlc and rheLorlcal forms. 1hey are soclally shared preclsely ln order Lo LesL Lhelr valldlLy
and approprlaLeness for furLher use ln language, LhoughL, and communlcaLlon abouL a
parLlcular Loplc ln a speclflc domaln of dlscourse. 1helr evldenLly dellberaLe use resembles
Lhe early sLage of meLaphorlcal modellng ln sclence buL Lakes place ln Lhe more general,
publlc arena of Lhe mass medla. 1helr maln funcLlon ln dlscourse would be persuaslve, and
comparlsons mlghL be Leased ouL for Lhose very purposes, ln argumenLaLlon and counLer-
argumenLaLlon. When a debaLe geLs seLLled or moves away from Lhe publlc lnLeresL, Lhe
comparlsons mlghL geL reduced agaln and convenLlonallzed nondellberaLe meLaphor LhaL are
noL processed by cross-domaln mapplng mlghL be re-esLabllshed as Lhe norm.
3. 1he group of lmpllclL meLaphorlcal models, agaln by conLrasL, could be elLher llngulsLlcally
novel or convenLlonal, as ln Lhe case of a loL of pop songs, buL would Lyplcally lnvolve
formulaLlons of convenLlonal wlsdom. 1hls would mean LhaL revlLallzaLlon could be a cenLral
lssue for Lhls class of meLaphorlcal models, Loo. 1helr frequenLly dellberaLe use would have a
predomlnanLly enLerLalnlng funcLlon whlch also mlghL ellclL reflecLlon by expllclL non-llLeral
comparlson drawlng aLLenLlon Lo lmpllclL or concealed feaLures.
4. 1he lasL group, emerglng meLaphors, would be somewhaL more unpredlcLable ln Lhelr
behavlor, ln comparlson wlLh Lhe oLher Lhree groups, also because Lhey mlghL lnclude parL of
Lhe processes of Lhe oLher Lhree classes. 1hls happens, for lnsLance, ln LherapeuLlc slLuaLlon
when people dlscuss relaLlonshlps and emoLlons, ln meeLlngs ln buslness and pollLlcal
conLexLs, and so on.

1hese are clearly [usL a few lncompleLe speculaLlons, buL Lhe soclal behavlor and use of Lhese four
groups of meLaphors can be explored by furLher LheoreLlcal and emplrlcal research, for lnsLance ln
Lhe framework of Luhmanns soclal sysLems Lheory (cf. PellsLen, 2009).
WhaL ls suggesLed by Lhls dlscourse-analyLlcal approach ls LhaL 'meLaphor ln LhoughL' requlres a
more sophlsLlcaLed model whlch lncludes boLh lLs soclal behavlor ln a wlde range of conLexLs as well
as lLs relaLlon Lo lLs dellberaLe versus non-dellberaLe use as meLaphor ln communlcaLlon. As hlnLed,
Lhls would evenLually lead Lo a dlscourse-analyLlcal verslon of Lhe Career of MeLaphor 1heory
(8owdle and CenLner, 2003, CenLner and 8owdle, 2001, 2008), ln whlch Lhe course of Lhe
developmenL of a meLaphorlcal model can be sLudled beLween and wlLhln evenLs of dlscourse (cf.
Cameron eL al.s 2009 meLaphor-led dlscourse-analysls). 1hls Lype of sLudy would noL only have Lo
look aL Lhe LexLual exLenslon or resLrlcLlon of Lhese meLaphorlcal models ln varylng dlscourse evenLs,
or of Lhe way lL ls expressed across modallLles and medla, buL also lnclude relaLlons wlLh for lnsLance
more encompasslng narraLlves and argumenLs LhaL such soclally shared meLaphors ofLen parLake ln
(cf. Lubanks 2000, Musolff 2004, Lakoff 2008b). Moreover, relaLlons of Lhese four Lypes of
meLaphorlcal models Lo dlscourse parLlclpanLs also vary wldely, ln Lerms of parLlclpanL roles,
experLlse, and general ldenLlLles and backgrounds. ln all Lhen, Lhe funcLlons and effecLs of meLaphor
ln dlscourse could beneflL from an encompasslng genre approach Lo Lhe full range of aspecLs LhaL
may be dlscerned ln dlsLlncL evenLs of dlscourse (SLeen, ln press c).
WhaL sorL of effecLs could Lhls have on academlc pracLlce? sychologlsLs may be able Lo polnL ouL
LhaL parLlcular cognlLlve processes can occur ln well-manlpulaLed condlLlons, buL Lhe relevance of
Lhese flndlngs Lo Lhe dlverslLy of all language use ln dlverse dlscourse conLexLs needs Lo be placed
more serlously on Lhe psychologlcal research agenda, for lnsLance by developlng Lhe soclal-
psychologlcal perspecLlve. LlngulsLs, ln Lurn, may be able Lo polnL ouL LhaL parLlcular meLaphorlcal
forms Lend Lo occur ln speclflc language varleLles, buL Lhe relevance of Lhese flndlngs Lo Lhe on-golng
psychologlcal as well as soclal processes wlLhln and beLween people ln real Llme Lhen sLlll demands
emplrlcal enqulry. And soclal sclenLlsLs may focus on whaL ls shared ln groups of dlscourse conLexLs,
buL need Lo lnclude dlsLlncL aLLenLlon Lo Lhe psychology of lndlvlduals and Lhe way dlverglng llngulsLlc
expresslons sLlll or perhaps prlmarlly reflecL generallzed semloLlc sLrucLures and paLLerns beyond
Lhelr slLuaLed use. Cnly ln Lhls way can we begln Lo charL Lhe dlscourse career of meLaphor. lL ls Lhls
consLanL and lnformed aLLenLlon Lo Lhe pecullar roles of Lhe lnLerdlsclpllnary parameLers of all
dlscourse-analyLlcal meLaphor research whlch characLerlzes Lhe new conLemporary Lheory of

4. Concluslon
1he conLemporary Lheory of meLaphor forwarded some Llme ago by Lakoff (1993) has served lLs
purpose. lL has shown how meLaphor ls noL a maLLer of language and rheLorlc, buL a phenomenon
LhaL can be besL deflned wlLh respecL Lo LhoughL. lL cannoL be reduced Lo LhoughL, for lL ls
manlfesLed ln language and oLher modes of human symbollzaLlon. 8uL Lhe LradlLlonal focus on Lhose
modes of symbollzaLlon Lhemselves prevenLed a deeper undersLandlng of whaL Lhe meLaphorlcal
symbols were based ln, LhaL ls, cross-domaln mapplngs ln concepLual sLrucLure and even sysLems. lL
ls Lhe merlL of Lakoff's (1993) conLemporary Lheory LhaL lL enabled Lhls deeper undersLandlng of
1oday, however, Lhe cognlLlve-sclenLlflc approach ln whlch Lhe conLemporary Lheory was based also
appears Lo be Loo llmlLlng. 8ecenL developmenLs have suggesLed LhaL Lwo correcLlons and
lmprovemenLs need Lo be added: on Lhe one hand, Lhe cognlLlve-sclenLlflc blas Lo language and
LhoughL has prevenLed adequaLe engagemenL wlLh Lhe communlcaLlve dlmenslon of meLaphor use,
on Lhe oLher hand, Lhe cognlLlve-sclenLlflc approach has prlvlleged an aL hearL psychologlcal
perspecLlve on meLaphor ln use, whereas lL has become clear LhaL Lhls needs Lo be complemenLed by
boLh a semloLlc as well as a soclal angle. 1hls has led Lo a new map of Lhe fleld, a whole range of new
quesLlons, and some relnLerpreLaLlons of Lhe old flndlngs.
1he new conLemporary Lheory ls sLlll based ln a LheoreLlcal deflnlLlon of meLaphor as a cross-domaln
mapplng ln concepLual sLrucLure. Powever, Lhls LheoreLlcal deflnlLlon can be operaLlonallzed ln
dlsLlncLly speclflc Lerms for emplrlcal research on meLaphor ln LhoughL, language, and
communlcaLlon from elLher a semloLlc, psychologlcal, or soclal perspecLlve. 1hese dlsLlncL areas of
research all form pleces ln Lhe overall puzzle LhaL ls called meLaphor, none of Lhem belng essenLlally
more lmporLanL Lhan any of Lhe oLhers. lL ls Lhls phenomenologlcal plus meLhodologlcal plurallsm
LhaL characLerlzes Lhe new conLemporary Lheory of meLaphor.
As a resulL, meLaphor may be deflned as a maLLer of concepLual sLrucLure, buL ln pracLlce lL works lLs
wonders ln language, communlcaLlon, or LhoughL. ConLrary Lo Lhe poslLlon of Lhe old conLemporary
Lheory, lL may predomlnanLly reslde ln language sLrucLure wlLhouL glvlng rlse Lo much meLaphorlcal
LhoughL, slmply because lL ls processed vla lexlcal dlsamblguaLlon. 1haL ls one way ln whlch we may
have off-loaded meLaphor ouL of our heads on Lo culLure (Clbbs, 1999b), and lL ls Lhe way ln whlch
Lhe paradox of meLaphor may be senslbly resolved (SLeen, 2008). Cr meLaphor may manlfesL lLself ln
communlcaLlon when lL ls used dellberaLely, and Lhen lL ls a maLLer of consclous LhoughL by
challengeable meLaphorlcal models wlLh a predomlnanLly soclal funcLlon, as an offlclal, conLesLed,
lmpllclL or emerglng meLaphorlcal represenLaLlon of some aspecL of Lhe world. 1haL ls one lmporLanL

way ln whlch meLaphor may faclllLaLe soclal and culLural lnLeracLlon as well as change, by means of
consclous meLaphorlcal LhoughL (cf. 8aumelsLer and Maslcampo, 2010). Cr meLaphor may be a
maLLer of backsLage cognlLlon, auLomaLlcally buL unconsclously uLlllzlng enLrenched cross-domaln
mapplngs whlch have been acqulred durlng people's cognlLlve and llngulsLlc developmenL.
1haL ls Lhe way ln whlch Lhe orlglnal Lhesls of cognlLlve llngulsLlcs has developed over Lhe pasL Lhree
decades, and Lhe scope of lLs valldlLy ls now under ongolng examlnaLlon. 1he dlvlslon of labor
beLween Lhese Lhree dlmenslons of meLaphor forms Lhe cruclal area of lnLeracLlon for furLher
developlng a full-blown Lheory of Lhe dlscourse career of meLaphor. Such a Lheory can Lhen gulde Lhe
collecLlon of converglng evldence by meLhodologlcal plurallsm for meLaphor ln elLher language or
LhoughL or communlcaLlon, whlch may Lyplcally noL work ln parallel.

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