You are on page 1of 30


conceptual metaphor is a correspondence between

elements of different frames and are represented
as A is B.
Metaphor plays a crucial role in understanding
mind and culture.

Life is a journey
Frame of journey

Journey =
Traveler =
Destination =
Obstacles =
Distance covered =
Way of the journey =
Choices about the path

Frame of life

person leading a life
Purpose of life
progress made
manner of living
choices in life etc

Components of conceptual metaphor:

Source domain
Target domain
Basis of metaphor
Neural structures corresponding to source and target
Relationship between the source and target
Metaphorical linguistic expressions
Aspects of source and target
Non-linguistic realizations
Cultural models

Source and target:

metaphor consist of a source and a target domain.

The source domain is more physical in nature
whereas the target domain is more abstract. For
example, journey is the source domain and life is
target domain. Thus we get the metaphor LIFE IS
IS WAR etc.

Basis of metaphor

traditional view is that generally there is some kind of similarity,

whether real or perceived, between the two concepts in some
respect so that they can motivate a metaphor. So, Achilles is a lion is
based on the shared property of the two entities namely, that of
being brave. She is regular fish --- there is some real or perceived
similarity between the fish and the person namely, that they both
swim well.
Embodiment also plays a role in generating metaphor. For example,
AFFECTION IS WARMTH. This metaphor seems natural because the
feeling of warmth correlates with bodily warmth, beginning from
childhood. A child hugged by its primary caretaker produces warmth
that also generates a feeling of comfort and affection.such
correlations in bodily experiences are experiences preconceptually
and prelinguistically

Connections in the brain:

the idea that metaphors are motivated by correlations

in bodily experience has given rise to a theory of
neural theory of metaphor. if metaphor is in the body
it must also be in the brain. Embodied experience
results in certain neural connections between areas of
the brain that correspond to the source and target.
When we understand an abstract concept
metaphorically two groups of neurons fire together. For
example, when we think of abstract concept like prices,
the neurons that correspond to amount and the ones
that correspond to verticality are co-activated in the
brain. these co-activations yield results in metaphors like

Relationship between source and target

a source domain may apply to various targets, which is called the

scope of the source and a target domain may attach to several
sources, which is called the range of the target.
Scope of the source: this refers to the number of target domains to
which a particular source domain applies. for example, the source
domain BUILDING applies to target domains of RELATIONSHIP, THEORY,
ECONOMIC SYSTEMS, LIFE etc.the scope of various source domains may
include same target domains. For example, LIFE.
Range of the target: target domains differ in respect to the number
of source domains available. For example, in English the target
domain of LOVE has over twenty source domains whereas SURPRISE
has a few.

Linguistic expressions

particular pairings of source and target domains give

rise to metaphorical linguistic expressions, thus linguistic
expressions are derivative of the two conceptual
domains being connected. Some target domains are
almost exclusively talked about in terms of metaphor:
She conquered him
They are breaking up
Its been a long bumpy road
She swept me off my feet
He is boiling with anger
I was struggling with my anger

Entailments and entailment potential

source domain sometimes maps ideas onto target

domains beyond the basic correspondences. These
additional mappings are called entailments or
inferences. In the metaphor LOVE IS A JOURNEY , love
is conceptualized as a journey and the vehicle
corresponds to the relationship. This basic mapping
also entails the knowledge about vehicle which can
be used to understand love relationship

Aspects of source and target

only certain aspects of the source or the target participate in the

metaphor. When we have a conceptual metaphor of A is B , the
entire concept of A or B is not involved in it, rather some aspects of
it. Certain aspects of the source are utilized and certain apects of
the target domain are highlighted. For example,

 Weve got the framework for a solid argument
 If you dont support your argument with solid facts, the whole thing
will collapse
 With the groundwork we have got we can build a strong argument.,


the bringing together of a source and target domain

sometimes result in blending, that is conceptual materials that
are new to both domains. Example, he was so mad that smoke
was coming out of his ears, here the source is SMOKE IN A
CONTAINER as the source and AN ANGRY PERSON as target. The
target has no smoke coming out of it and the source has no
ears. but the metaphor conceptually integrates the two.

Non-linguistic realization:

conceptual metaphors are also realized non-linguistically, that

is in socio-physical practice and reality. Example, important is
central metaphor and its physical manifestations.

Cultural models

conceptual metaphors often produce cultural models or

frames that operate in thought. These are structures that
are simultaneously cultural and cognitive , in that they are
culturally specific mental representations of the world.
example, an integral part of our understanding of time is
that it is an entity that moves or passes, this is because
much of our cultural model of time is based on the
conceptual metaphor TIME IS A MOVING ENTITY, hence we
talk about time passing, flying etc

Metaphor variation


It seems that several unrelated languages of the world may
share several conceptual metaphors for particular emotions.
One of these emotion concepts is happiness. Out of a large
number of metaphors related to happiness in English three
CONTAINER. This is also found in many of the worlds
languages, like Chinese, Hungarian etc.
 Case of emotions:
Happiness is up: I feel up,
Happiness is light: she brightened up
Happiness is fluid in a container: he is bursting with joy.


simmer down, let him stew, he blew

his top, he just exploded

time orientation/static time: thats all behind us now, he has a great future
ahead of him.
Moving time: time was flying by, time for action has arrived, the deadline is
Moving observer: there is going to be trouble down the road, we have
reached august already..
event structure, (aspects of event understood as a set of physical concepts)
STATES ARE LOCATIONS: they are in love, he is in big trouble
inner life (self vs subject)


there are two dimensions along which conceptual metaphors VARY cross
 Congruence: generic level and specific level: a generic level
conceptual metaphor is instantiated in culture specific ways at a
metaphor that functions at a very generic level. it does not specify
what kind of container is used, what the fluid refers to, whether the
container is heated or not etc. at this level it is almost universal. but
the cultural variation is visible at the specific level of this. IN
Japanese the same metaphor is built around the concept of HARA,
the belly. In case of Chinese, the fluid refers to gas, not liquid. In
case of Zulu, the container is heart, THE ANGER IS IN HEART , whereas
in English heart is associated with love affection etc.

Alternative metaphors: differences are in the range of source domains. This

is most commonly found in case of emotion concepts as targets. One case in
point is Chinese metaphor HAPPINESS IS FLOWERS IN THE HEART, which perhaps
reflect the introvert nature of the Chinese. In contrast is the English metaphor
BEING HAPPY IS BEING OFF THE GROUND. again, in Hmong, a language spoken
in Laos and Thailand, life is viewed as a string that can be cut and broken;
therefore the word for cut tu can also mean to give birth to, to die or to

Variation within cultures

Social dimension: social dimension include the differentiation of society into

men and women, middle class working class etc.

Regional dimension: Africaans (Dutch spoken in South Africa). Africaans has

acquired many new metaphors based on natural phenomena and the
animal world. (Dirven, 1994).

Style: style is determined by factors such as audience, topic, setting and

medium. All of these my influence the selection and use of metaphors. For
example, slang

Subcultural dimension: each society and culture consist of its own subcultures,
which develop their own metaphors and these metaphors may define the
group. DEPRESSION IS CAPTOR USED BY Depressed people . (McMullen and

Individual dimension: love relationship as pushing a wagon uphill

Causes of metaphor variation




Differential experience: this refers to all the culturally unique and salient
features and values that characterize cultures.
Cultural context: : Euro-American concept of anger is derived from the
classical-medieval notion of four humors (which refers to four fluids-phlegm, black bile, yellow bile, blood) that regulate the vital processes in
Communicative situation: body.topic in a communicative situation very
often plays a crucial role in the choice of metaphors. Consider these :
American football
History: gamesHemingways metaphors are said to have risen from his
bullfighting in Spain, game-hunting in Africa and deep sea fishing in

Differential cognitive preferences: human being share a great deal of bodily

experiences, but this universal bodily basis of experience is not utilized in
the same way across cultures and languages. The difference occurs in the
experiential focus. Consider again anger. Increase in skin temperature and
blood pressure as correlates of anger are universal and yet, the ANGER IS
HEAT metaphor is much less prevalent in some cultures than others.

Non-verbal metaphors:

Conceptual metaphors are primarily a matter of

thought and action and only derivatively a matter
of language. Hence it should occur not only in
language but also in static and moving pictures,
sounds, music, gestures etc. most part of conceptual
metaphor theory does not include non-verbal

Pictorial metaphor

pictorial metaphor or visual metaphors are

monomodal, like verbal metaphors. Both the target
and source are rendered in one mode, i.e. pictures.


an object is metaphorised because of the context in

which it is placed. E.g. the Dove hair-silk ad from
Holland with the slogan: your hair too deserves a
treat sometimes. HAIR SILK IS ICE-CREAM. Source
domain is ice cream and mapped feature is
spooling oneself with luxury food.

Hybrid: two objects that are usually distinct are

merged together physically into a single gestalt.
Two phenomena are visually represented as
occupying the same space that is physically

Integrated: a phenomenon experienced as a unified

object or gestalt without the contextual cues.

Multimodal metaphor

this type of metaphors span across various types of sign

systems, sensory perceptions, and the materials bridging them.

TV ads like the following get their messages across through

 streets are filled with idiots, reason why Ceat tyres .
 Max life insurance
 Chocolate fountain premium ecclairs

Metaphor and embodied simulation

Humans engage in embodied simulation at various times for various purposes like
communicative purposes or for solving cognitive tasks etc.
Some simulations are purely mental, like closing ones eyes and see her house etc.
Neuroscience research reveals that brain areas associated with visual processing of
motion are active when people see pictures depicting both real and implied
motions. This suggests that processing implied motion in static depiction is very
similar to perception of real motion.
Concepts are often understood in embodied metaphorical termsas items that can
be acted upon by the body.-----Stomp out racism/ grasp the concept/ chew on the
idea etc
Studies show that when asked about the mental image of a metaphorical sentence,
participants answered more in terms of conceptualized descriptions, rather than in
terms of actual action.
Which shows that mental images for metaphorical action phrases are constrained by
he embodied understanding of the target domain referred to.