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Review of  Introducing Metaphor

Reviewer: Denis L. Jamet
Book Title: Introducing Metaphor
Book Author: Murray George Knowles Rosamund Moon
Publisher: Routledge (Taylor and Francis)
Linguistic Field(s): Semantics
Text/Corpus Linguistics
Issue Number: 18.122

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AUTHOR: Knowles, Murray & Rosamund Moon.
TITLE: Introducing Metaphor
PUBLISHER: Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group)
YEAR: 2006

Denis L. Jamet, Department of English and Linguistics, University Jean
Moulin - Lyon 3, France.

As mentioned in the foreword (p. ix), Knowles and Moon's _Introducing
Metaphor_ is intended as a textbook for ''undergraduate students of English
Language, Linguistics, and Literature''. The book comprises a list of
contents, acknowledgements, ten chapters, an appendix, a bibliography and
an index. All the chapters have the same layout: a short introduction
outlining the aim of the chapter and the topics to be developed, the body
of the chapter divided into various parts, a summary of the main ideas, and
a ''further reading'' section.


Chapter 1, entitled ''Introducing Metaphor'', is an introductory chapter
aimed at defining key terms such as 'metaphor', 'metonymy' and 'similes.'
The two types of metaphor - 'creative' vs. 'conventional' - are put under
scrutiny, as well as the differences between literal and metaphorical
language. The authors then present a means of analyzing metaphors, and
discuss the principal roles they can play. Chapter 1 therefore serves as an
introduction to the rest of the book, insofar as it defines key concepts
and gives a comprehensive overview of the main issues to be dealt with in
subsequent chapters. The authors underline the fact that metaphor is not
restricted to literary or poetical language, but serves a central cognitive
function in everyday language and in human thought, as discussed the
penultimate chapter on non-verbal metaphor.

Chapter 2 entitled ''Metaphor, Words and Meanings'' focuses on conventional
(vs. creative) metaphors found in lexical and grammatical words. The role
of etymology and of borrowing is emphasized in two sections. The following
subparts focus on the interpretation of idioms and on the possibility of
conventional metaphors being 'reliteralized.' Polysemy, core meaning and
the highlighting-hiding process at work in any metaphorical process are
also examined.

Chapter 3 entitled ''Systematizing Metaphor'' deals with a core issue in the
cognitive theory of metaphor: the fact that metaphors work systematically.
This chapter is thus largely devoted to Lakoff and Johnson's 'Conceptual
Metaphor Theory'. The authors concentrate on the difference between
conceptual metaphors and metaphorical linguistic expressions, providing the
reader with numerous examples. Stress is laid on the fact that metaphor is
a way of conceptualizing abstract notions which could not otherwise be
conceptualized. Key-terms related to the cognitive approach of metaphor -
and more particularly to Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT) - are introduced:
'mapping', 'target domain'and 'source domain.' Various conceptual metaphors
are discussed and analyzed, including metaphors enabling the
conceptualization of time, emotion and communication (Reddy's famous
'conduit metaphor'). The three categories of metaphor developed by Lakoff
and Johnson are also discussed (p. 40-41), as well as the notion of
systematicity which, as mentioned in the previous chapter, is a key-notion
in CMT. Though the authors also point out the possible limits of such a
notion, they eventually decide to use it, by resorting to more general
conceptual metaphors. The chapter ends with a brief discussion on the
experiential basis of conceptual metaphors (a point which could have been
developed in rather more detail).

Chapter 4 entitled ''Metonymy'' first questions the differences between
metonymy and synecdoche, a traditional distinction that the authors will
not follow, preferring to use only the hypernym 'metonymy'. The role of
metonymy in polysemous evolution is examined, as well as the links between
metonymy and etymology, metonymy and idioms. The similarities and
differences between metaphor and metonymy are also considered. The chapter
ends with the systemic aspect of metonymy and its experiential basis (cf.
Lakoff and Johnson (1980) and Kövecses (2002)).

Chapter 5 entitled ''Understanding Metaphor'' is devoted to the way we
understand metaphorical statements. Different points of view are presented
and discussed: first, the neurobiological approach, i.e. the relation
between metaphor and the brain; then, the role of metaphor in language
acquisition. The chapter goes on to study four main approaches to the
understanding of metaphor: the scientific approach (neurobiology), the
so-called traditional or philosophical approach (philosophy of language,
semantics, etc.), the pragmatic approach, and finally the cognitive
approach (conceptual metaphor theory, blending theory). The final subpart
in the chapter addresses the issue of corpus linguistics, i.e. text-based
approaches to the understanding and interpretation of metaphors. The
emphasis is laid on the pivotal role of context. The authors are careful to
state the pros and the cons of each approach, which is of interest for
people who are not well-versed in metaphor studies.

Chapter 6 entitled ''Metaphor across Languages'' investigates examples taken
from various languages to see if metaphor is context/culture-dependent.
This chapter is thus devoted to cross-linguistic and cross-cultural
perspectives. The awareness of metaphor when learning a foreign language is
noted, contrary to the lack of awareness of metaphor when learning one's
native language (at least in the early stages). The issue of the
universality or culture-dependence of metaphor is then examined through
various language items: metaphors, idioms and metonyms in different
languages. In these sections, only conventional metaphors, metonyms and
idioms are considered. The authors also question the universality of
conceptual metaphors, first developed for English by Lakoff and Johnson.
Some prove to be definitely universal, whereas others tend to be
culture-specific. This enables the authors to focus on the difference
between metaphor, thought and culture, with a well-argued reanalysis of the
Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. The viewpoint remains cautious, stressing that it
is indeed difficult to support any extreme view of the influence between
thought and language. The final part of the chapter focuses on the
translation of metaphors, metonyms and idioms, as well as on the various
choices the translator is often faced with.

Chapter 7 entitled ''Metaphor, Ideology, and Social Context'' aims at a
practical or applied approach as do the two subsequent chapters; indeed,
they concentrate on actual uses of metaphors in discourse, i.e. on the
ideology of metaphors. The main problem concerns the relationship between
metaphor and society, and how metaphors can support beliefs and points of
view. Evaluative texts are therefore examined in this chapter - for
instance, political narratives (such as the Blair and Brown example). The
authors provide examples of metaphors used in the media to influence views
held by the reading public. The most frequent metaphors for sports are
examined, especially the underlying conceptual metaphor /SPORT IS WAR/ or
/SPORT IS FIGHTING/. The same approach is taken to the language of
advertising, where the notion of personification is highlighted through the
use of the /PRODUCT IS YOUR FRIEND/ conceptual metaphor. The chapter ends
with two sections which seem less convincing: ''metaphor and money'' and
''grammatical metaphor'', whose 'softdowning' role is examined.

Chapter 8 entitled ''Literary Metaphor'' examines the type of metaphor
traditionally considered to be the most typical type of metaphor. The
question of irony is tackled in the section entitled ''Reading between the
lines.'' Metaphor is then redefined in the context of literary texts,
following the authors' re-evaluation of the difference between tropes and
schemes. Metonymy in literature is also examined, together with various
topics such as personification, ambiguity (with the examples of punning and
Lewis Carroll's portmanteau words--curiously, syllepsis is not mentioned in
this part), private and public symbolism, and allegory where the whole
narrative is structured around metaphors. The relationship between
metaphor, reader and writer is also studied through the concepts of
'implied author' and 'implied reader.' The authors also investigate
metaphor in what they refer to as 'popular' fiction, such as detective or
mystery novels, where metaphor helps structure the plot. Numerous examples
taken from contemporary writers are provided.

Chapter 9 entitled ''Non-Verbal Metaphor'' focuses on non-verbal, i.e.
non-linguistic metaphors in various fields, the first of which is cinema;
many examples of westerns are given. The world of music also contains
metaphors, especially in relation to color. Metaphor in pictorial
representation is subsequently examined including photography, painting,
pictures in advertisements, notices and road-signs (with a special focus on
colors), finishing with metaphors in the names of pubs. A whole part is
dedicated to colors and color symbolism, as well as shapes and numbers
(with the examples of national flags). Colors can also be associated with
emotions and sounds. Statues, monuments and cultural symbols from various
countries are also investigated, as well as the metaphors and symbols of
some religions. The summary enables the authors to mention other types of
non-verbal metaphors found in body language, mime, dance, etc.

Chapter 10 entitled ''Coda'' is short (three pages) and acts as a summary of
the authors' intentions. The chapter ends with new examples of metaphors
taken from various contexts, emphasizing the interest, richness, and
importance of the study of metaphor.

The appendix following chapter 10 suggests research themes for students,
and discusses some new viewpoints on metaphor.


The book is thought-provoking and highly stimulating. The core idea of the
book can be summarized as follows: not only is metaphor pervasive in all
types of language, but also in thought, which is metaphorical in nature.
Indeed, our understanding of the world is mediated to a large extent
through metaphor, which is one of the most fundamental ways of
conceptualizing abstract notions. This ''importance of metaphor'' (title of a
section of chapter 1, p. 4) is therefore the main focus of the whole book
but the overall scope of the book goes beyond this since the authors
investigate various forms of metaphor (verbal and non-verbal), giving a
broad overview of metaphor studies.

The shortcomings of the book are few. One possible criticism could concern
the authors' overemphasis on the cognitive approach to metaphor, and more
particularly to CMT, as developed by Lakoff and Johnson. Yet, the authors
sometimes mention the potential limits of the theory (for example, on the
radical view of CMT: ''This view is radical. However, it remains a
hypothesis, and it is difficult to see how it can be tested methodically at
the present time'', p. 73). Blending theory is only quickly alluded to in
chapter 5, on page 73. Most striking, however, is the absence of names such
as Ricoeur (1975; 1979), or I. A. Richards (1936; 1964), whose fundamental
works have played a pivotal role in the contemporary study of metaphor.

Other minor shortcomings can be listed: in chapter 1, in the discussion
about literal and metaphorical language (p. 6), catachresis is not
mentioned, although it could provide an example of a metaphor which
immediately becomes a literal term. As previously mentioned, the part on
the experimental basis of metaphor in chapter 3, p. 44-45, could have been
developed a bit further, and the last two sections of chapter 7 are less
convincing than the rest of the book. Some translations in French in
chapter 6 are erroneous, such as the French ''avoir du toit'' for ''(have) a
roof over one's head'' (rather ''avoir un toit où dormir'') and ''tendre la
main'' for ''give someone a hand'' (rather ''donner un coup de main à quelqu'un'').

On a practical level, the book is well organized and formatted. Each time
a new concept is introduced, it is illustrated with relevant examples taken
from various languages, and all examples are clearly identified thanks to
indentation. Key-words are also written in bold type, which enables the
reader to identify the most important terms quickly and easily. The clear
layout and presentation make it a very accessible textbook for students.
Our only regret stems from some inconsistencies in the use of the bold type
used to highlight metaphors. Sometimes bold type is used, but sometimes it
is not (for example p. 127-128), and students may find the varying uses of
bold type somewhat puzzling.

Despite the few aforementioned shortcomings, Knowles and Moon's
_Introducing Metaphor_ remains a valuable and enlightening contribution
and, above all, an excellent introductory textbook to metaphor studies,
accessible both to people who are being introduced to the study of metaphor
for the very first time and to people well-versed in metaphor studies, or
just to people interested in the cognitive function of metaphors. Overall,
this book is strongly recommended insofar as it is a real contribution to
metaphor studies, but also inasmuch as it helps our understanding of the
pervasive role played by the metaphors we live by.


Black, Max, (1962; 1968) Models and Metaphors. Studies in Language and
Philosophy. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press.

Goatly, Andrew, (1997) The Language of Metaphors. London & New York: Routledge.

Katz, Albert N., Christina Cacciari, Raymond W. Gibbs & Mark Turner, (1998)
Figurative Language and Thought. New York - Oxford, Counterpoints:
Cognition, Memory, and Language: Oxford University Press.

Kittay, Eva, (1987) Metaphor; Its Cognitive Force and Linguistic Structure:
Oxford, Clarendon Press.

Kövecses, Zoltán, (2002) Metaphor. A Practical Introduction. Oxford - New
York: Oxford University Press.

Lakoff, George & Mark Johnson, (1980) Metaphors We Live By. Chicago: The
University of Chicago Press.

Le Guern, Michel, (1973) Sémantique de la métaphore et de la métonymie.
Paris, 'Langue et langage': Larousse.

Ortony Andrew, ed. (1993) Metaphor and Thought. Second edition: Cambridge
University Press.

Paprotté, Wolf & René Dirven, eds. (1985) The Ubiquity of Metaphor:
Metaphor in Language and Thought. Amsterdam/Philadelphia, 'Amsterdam
Studies in the Theory and History of Linguistic Science, Volume 29': John
Benjamins Publishing Company.

Richards, I. A., (1936; 1964) The Philosophy of Rhetoric. London - Oxford -
New York: Oxford University Press.

Ricoeur, Paul, (1975; 1979) The Rule of Metaphor. Toronto: Toronto
University Press.

Sack, Sheldon, ed. (1978; 1979) On Metaphor. Chicago & London: The
University of Chicago Press.

Denis L. Jamet is Associate Professor of English Linguistics at University
Jean Moulin - Lyon 3, France. He also teaches English linguistics at the
Ecole Normale Supérieure - Lettres, Sciences Humaines in Lyons, and is
Senior Lecturer of French at the University of Auckland, New-Zealand. He
taught French at the University of Georgia, Ga, USA in 1994-1996. He
completed a Ph.D. dissertation entitled "A cognitive, utterer-centered
approach to the marking of metaphorical lexemes in English and in French"
in 2002. His current research interests include metaphorical studies, as
well as word-formation in English and in French. He is Head of publication
of Lexis, the newly-created E-Journal in English Lexicology:

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