The metaphorical construction of complex domains: The case of speech activity in English

Publication Type  Journal Article
Year of Publication  2005
Authors  Semino, Elena
Journal Title  Metaphor and Symbol
Volume  20
Pagination  35-70
Key Words  metaphor; cognitive semantics; conceptual metaphor theory; linguistic action; speech activity; spoken communication; source domain of linguistic action metaphor; LINGUISTIC ACTION IS MOTION; LINGUISTIC ACTION IS PHYSICAL TRANSFER; LINGUISTIC ACTION IS PH
Abstract  I provide an account of the way in which the domain of spoken communication is metaphorically constructed in English, on the basis of the analysis of over 450 metaphorical references to speech activity in a corpus of contemporary written British English. I show how spoken communication is mainly structured via a set of source domains that conventionally apply to a wide variety of target domains, such as the source domains of MOTION, PHYSICAL TRANSFER, PHYSICAL CONSTRUCTION, and PHYSICAL SUPPORT. Each of these source domains structures a particular aspect of speech activity, such as the achievement of communicative goals, the expression of meanings and ideas, the performance of speech acts, the negotiation of mutual relationships, and so on. I suggest that the particular conceptual mappings that underlie the main patterns in my data are best seen in terms of Grady's (1997) notion of primary metaphors, that is, as simple, basic mappings that have a firm experiential basis and that apply to a wide range of different areas of experience (e.g., "HELP/ASSISTANCE IS SUPPORT"). However, I also show that the main primary metaphors involved in structuring the domain of speech activity can be combined into a single overall physical scenario in which interactants can move in different directions, place themselves in different positions in relation to each other, come into contact with each other in different ways, physically produce texts/utterances/speech acts, physically pass texts/utterances/speech acts to each other, and make meanings visible to each other in different ways. Finally, I argue that a corpus-based methodology has much to offer to metaphor research, particularly in the extrapolation of conceptual metaphors from linguistic data.(Elena Semino)
Notes  Department of Linguistics and English Language Rowland College, Lancaster University, LAI 4YT UK;
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