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Kovecses, Zoltan (2002) Metaphor: A Practical Introduction. Oxford University Press, xvi+285 pp, paperback ISBN 0-19-514511-9, $19.95.
Magdalena Zawislawska, Institute of Polish Language, Department of Polish Philology, University of Warsaw
The main goal of this monograph is to recapitulate a 20-year study on metaphor from the perspective of cognitive linguistics. The book consists of 17 chapters, a glossary, a key to exercises, references, a general index, and a metaphor and metonymy index.
In the chapter ''What is metaphor'' the author defines metaphor and introduces many problems concerning the subject and promises to solve all those problems are in following chapters. In the first place author presents typical source and target domains in English. Apparently the most common source domains are: human body, health and illness, animals, plants, buildings and constructions, machines and tools etc. The target domains are emotion, desire, morality, thought, society, politics, economy, etc. The next chapter ''Kinds of Metaphor'' is devoted to classification of metaphors. Different kinds of metaphors are distinguished depending on their conventionality (how well they are established in the usage of a linguistics community), their cognitive function (structural, ontological or orientational metaphors), their nature (image-schemas or image metaphors) and levels of generality (generic-level or specific-level metaphors).
Then the metaphor in literature is discussed -- the author puts a question if the literary metaphor is in some way different from the one used in every-day language. It seems that poets and writers mostly use conceptual metaphors common for the whole language community, but they transform them in various ways, by: - extending (introducing a new conceptual element in the commonly used source domain), - elaborating (expressing already existing element of source domain in a new, unconventional way), - questioning (critical revision of commonly used metaphor), or - combining (activating several typical metaphors at the same time). In the chapter ''Nonlinguistic Realizations of Conceptual Metaphor'' the author presents different ways of metaphor manifestation -- in films, cartoons, art, architecture (e.g. metaphor GOD IS UP can be seen in churches), advertisement (e.g. washing powder presented as a good friend), symbols (like the American Statue of Liberty), myths and dreams.
''The Basis of Metaphor'' part is devoted to grounding of metaphors in our experience. The basis of metaphor creation can be for example in correlation, e.g. MORE IS UP (we can observe that the level of liquid in the container is rising as we are pouring more fluid in it) or perceived similarities as in LIFE IS A GAMBLING.
In the seventh chapter ''The Partial Nature of Metaphorical Mapping'' the author discusses some properties of metaphorical mapping, such as highlighting by the source domain only some aspects of a target domain and hiding others. The explanation he offers is that this partial mapping is caused by the structure of complex metaphors -- they are built with primary metaphors and they capture only those aspects of target domains which are motivated in the primary ones.
In the ''Metaphorical Entailments'' the author asks whether the rest of our rich knowledge, not used in the metaphor mapping, is ignored or maybe can be used in the process of metaphor understanding. The answer is that this knowledge is some kind of ''domain potency'' which still can be activated unless it breaks the invariance principle (only these pieces of knowledge can be used which do not conflict with the target domain's structure).
The next chapter ''Scope of Metaphor'' tries to solve the problem of how many and what kinds of target domains can be characterized by a single source domain. Then author presents metaphor system in English -- or to be more precise -- two separate systems: Great Chain with its subsystem Abstract Complex System metaphor and Event Structure metaphor.
The eleventh part of the book is about metonymy. The author shows the differences and similarities between metonymy and metaphor; the first is characterized by continuity while the second by similarity. Moreover, in the case of metonymy we deal with only one domain while metaphor uses two. Also, according to the author, metaphor helps with understanding target domains and metonymy gives access to more abstract or less salient entities in the same domain. In this chapter, some connections between metonymy and metaphor are also discussed, for example that some metaphors might originally derive from metonymies.
In the part ''The Universality of Conceptual Metaphors'' some examples of universal (or near universal) metaphors like ANGER IS A FLUID are given from different languages such as Japanese, Zulu, Chinese, Tahitian, Wolof, Polish, Hungarian. Following that, the author characterizes certain examples of cultural variation in metaphor and metonymy and gives an explanation where those differences are coming from (e.g. different traditions, influences of the natural environment etc.).
The next chapter describes the relationship among metaphor, metonymy and idioms. The author draws our attention to the importance of this problem in second language acquisition -- knowledge about metaphor, which is a base for idioms, significantly raises the effectiveness of learning.
The following part ''Metaphor and Metonymy in the Study of Language'' is devoted to problems like polysemy, historical semantics, grammar (mostly morphology). In the chapter called ''Metaphors and Blends'' the theory of Fauconnier and Turner is described, and also why the model of metaphor described as mapping between two domains is insufficient and why it is necessary to introduce a network model.
Finally the author distinguishes three levels of metaphor -- the supraindividual level, the individual level and the subindividual level. On the first we have metaphors extracted by researchers from different data (mainly linguistics), the second one is in our minds, and on the third metaphor becomes natural and motivated for speakers.
EVALUATION I really enjoyed reading this book -- its language is simple and comprehensible, there are many examples from various languages. It was a very good idea to place a further reading part after each chapter. The exercises are also very interesting and diverse, also, what is very often omitted, a key for exercises. In the glossary one can easily check all definitions of the terms used in the book. The metonymy and metaphor index is also a very good idea.
Nevertheless I have some reservations about the book. First of all the title ''Metaphor: A Practical Introduction'' is a little confusing -- it would be better to add the information that this introduction is made strictly from the cognitive perspective. I have another problem with the examples -- I think there are too many old, well-known metaphors from the book by Lakoff and Johnson ''Metaphors We Live By'' like e.g. LOVE IS A JOURNEY or ARGUMENT IS WAR.
My next remark also concerns examples -- in the first paragraph of chapter 12 ''The Universality of Conceptual Metaphors'' the author quotes some citations in Chinese with English translation and later on, in the very same chapter, he gives only translations for such languages as Hungarian, Japanese, and Polish.
More importantly, I find the classification of metaphors very questionable. I still can't see the difference between structural, ontological and orientational metaphors, for example why personification, like ''Life cheated me'', is an ontological metaphor (which ''provide less cognitive structuring for target concepts'') and TIME IS MOTION is a structural metaphor (''provides relatively rich knowledge structure for the target concept'')? What does ''relatively'' mean? What exactly is it related to? The same problem concerns the ontological metaphor, which ''provides less knowledge'' -- less then the structural metaphor? This is some kind of a vicious circle. The next question is what exactly does this knowledge consist of? How can we measure it and how can we be sure that it really has a structure? I am quite aware that this classification is from ''Metaphors We Live By'', but it still needs much more explanation in my opinion.
My next problem concerns ''image-schemas'' and ''image metaphors''. The author says they both are based on image whereas the other kinds of metaphor are based on knowledge. The terms ''image'' and ''knowledge'' are not defined in the book and there are not enough examples to see the difference. It looks like the ''image- schemas metaphor'' has something to do with the orientational metaphor (for both types almost the same examples are given), but what they have in common is not explained.
The author also discusses ''primary'' and ''simple'' metaphor. I don't understand what the difference is between them (if there is a difference at all), because there are two separate definitions for those terms in the glossary, while in the book they are treated effectively as synonyms.
Finally, I do not accept the definition of metonymy according to which it ''gives access to more abstract or less salient entity in the same domain''. It means that in the example ''I read Thomas Mann a lot'' -- Mann is more salient and less abstract than his works. I am not convinced. However, despite my questions, I think this book can be useful for students or for teachers, as it sums up two decades of the study on the metaphor and includes a very rich bibliography.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
Magdalena Zawislawska teaches Polish grammar at the Department of Polish Philology. Her doctoral dissertation was about Polish verbs of visual perception from the frame-semantics perspective. Currently she is doing research on metaphors in the language of science. Her other interest, besides cognitive semantics, is second language acquisition.