Language Evolution: The Windows Approach addresses the question: "How can we unravel the evolution of language, given that there is no direct evidence about it?"
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AUTHOR: Kövecses, Zoltán TITLE: Metaphor SUBTITLE: A Practical Introduction, Second Edition PUBLISHER: Oxford University Press YEAR: 2010
Wendy Anderson, Department of English Language, University of Glasgow, UK
This is the second edition of Kövecses' classic introduction to metaphor. A review of the first edition (2002) appeared on Linguist List 13.1703. This edition has been thoroughly updated to take account of continuing work on metaphor since the first edition, and also contains two new chapters, on 'Cognitive models, metaphors, and embodiment' (the new Chapter 8), and 'Metaphors in discourse' (Chapter 18). There are also new exercises.
The book contains 19 short chapters. Each is closely focused on a particular aspect of metaphor, although connections between chapters are also made evident, both in the discussion and in recurring examples. This lends the book a strong cohesiveness. Each chapter concludes with a short summary, helpful notes on further reading, and a number of exercises.
For the purposes of summarising the content, it is useful to group chapters into three main parts: Chapters 1-5 set out the foundations, introducing the notion of metaphor, illustrating it through common source and target domains, identifying types of metaphor and contextualising the phenomenon in general language, literary language and in its various non-linguistic realizations. Chapters 6-11 deal in depth with conceptual metaphor, focusing in turn on the basis of metaphor (similarity, experiential basis and motivation), the partial nature of mapping, the notion of embodiment, entailments, the interactions of source and target domains, and broader systems of conceptual metaphors. Chapters 12-18, while very broad-ranging, each extend the scope of the discussion in different directions and begin to apply these theoretical notions. They look at metonymy, the questions of universality and cultural variation, applications of conceptual metaphor theory to language learning, the relationship between metaphor/metonymy and concepts such as polysemy, semantic change and grammar, the relationship with Conceptual Blends, and metaphors in discourse. Finally Chapter 19 asks 'How does all this hang together?' and identifies fruitful angles for future research.
Chapter 1, 'What is metaphor?,' explains the relevance of metaphor and describes its scope, making a clear distinction between conceptual metaphor (that is, the underlying mapping) and metaphorical linguistic expressions (the realizations of conceptual metaphors in linguistic form). To illustrate the latter, Kövecses sets out the recently introduced metaphor identification procedure (MIP, see Pragglejaz Group 2007), and applies the procedure to the example 'He's without direction in life.' The chapter also identifies the sets of questions which each of the 17 chapters which follow will tackle.
Chapter 2, 'Common source and target domains,' draws on a number of resources such as dictionaries of metaphor and thesauruses to identify the most common domains used in metaphor, whether as source (e.g. human body, health and illness, animals, plants, buildings) or target (e.g. emotions, morality, politics, communication, religion). Kövecses notes that mappings are directional, going from concrete to abstract, and are usually not reversible. Chapter 3, 'Kinds of metaphor' centres around three broad types of conceptual metaphor, structural, ontological and orientational, and also considers metaphors with a basis in image-schemas. The interaction between generic and specific level metaphors is introduced here and developed further in later chapters, particularly Chapter 11.
Until this point, metaphor has been treated as a phenomenon of general language. The next chapter focuses on metaphor in literature, demonstrating how literary metaphors are based on everyday conventional metaphors and also considering the relationship with personification, image metaphors, and 'megametaphors' or extended metaphors. Chapter 5, on the other hand, looks beyond language to explore where else metaphors manifest themselves, such as in films, advertising, symbols, myths, politics, and gestures. The chapter draws these areas together with a glance at exciting recent work in multimodal metaphor.
With the general nature and scope of metaphor established, the next few chapters offer a more focused examination of aspects of conceptual metaphor. In Chapter 6, 'The basis of metaphor,' Kövecses looks at the constraints on metaphor production, contrasting traditional approaches to metaphor which assumed a pre-existing similarity between source and target, and cognitive approaches which shift the emphasis to correlation in experience and perceived structural similarity. The chapter is also brought up to date with a new overview of the neural theory of metaphor (e.g. Lakoff 2008), which predicts, among other things, that conceptual metaphors based on primary metaphors are more easily learned, and that metaphorical processing will not take longer than non-metaphorical processing.
Chapter 7, 'The partial nature of metaphorical mappings,' explores which aspects of a source domain are used to understand which parts of a target, both conventionally and in creative exploitations of the mapping. Much of the discussion here is based around the example of the various source concepts which pick out different aspects of the targets HAPPY/HAPPINESS/BEING HAPPY. The exercises for this chapter ask the reader to apply the discussion to the target SAD. Chapter 8, one of the new chapters in this edition, develops the example of HAPPINESS further, in the broader context of the concept of EMOTION, and through the more powerful lens provided by a combination of conceptual metaphor, conceptual metonymy, related concepts (such as the concept of friendship inherent in the concept of love), and prototypical cognitive models. Kövecses argues that concepts of emotion, like many others, are strongly embodied in human experience.
Chapter 9 follows on from some of the issues raised in Chapter 7 on the partial nature of mapping, by considering 'Metaphorical entailments,' or the additional knowledge about a source which is mapped onto a target. This draws on the 'invariance principle,' which ''blocks the mapping of knowledge that is not coherent with the schematic or skeletal structure of the target concept'' (p. 131). The exercises here invite readers to identify entailments both in genuine language (e.g. song lyrics) and decontextualised examples. The tenth chapter continues the exploration of the complex nature of mappings, looking at the way in which source concepts map onto multiple targets and the components of the source domain which are conventionally mapped. This is further developed in Chapter 11, 'Metaphor systems,' in which Kövecses uses the Great Chain of Being and the Event Structure metaphors to demonstrate how metaphors are not independent but are instead coherently organised.
Having now delved deeply into the nature of metaphor, in Chapters 12-18 the book extends the discussion to closely related concepts and applications. Chapter 12 is the first of several that deal with the concept of metonymy, which Kövecses notes is distinct from metaphor but ''related in several interesting ways'' (p. 171), as in cases where conceptual metaphors derive from conceptual metonymies. With the partially metonymic character of metaphors which are embodied in human experience now set out, Chapter 13 considers the extent to which metaphors can be said to be universal. Again, examples are drawn from the concepts of HAPPY/HAPPINESS, across eight genetically unrelated languages. Naturally only a limited amount of evidence can be offered, but a main conclusion is that the universality of some conceptual metaphors, especially generic ones, may be due to their metonymic correlations. The opposite perspective, that of cultural relativity, is the focus of Chapter 14, which continues to draw on concepts of emotion to explore cross-cultural and within-culture variation in metaphors and metonymies, and indeed in the choice between a metaphorical or a metonymic mapping for a particular concept. Taking Chapters 13 and 14 together it can be seen that both universality and relativity are significant in different respects.
Chapter 15 takes an applied view, explaining how conceptual metaphor theory can contribute to the learning of idioms, expressions whose meaning cannot be predicted from the sum of their parts. As shown by Kövecses and Szabó (1996), learners perform better when learning idioms in a motivated way: conceptual metaphor theory highlights the underlying motivation of idioms. Chapter 16 continues the consideration of how metaphor and metonymy interact with other features of language, such as polysemy, semantic change, and grammar. Kövecses proposes, for example, that denominal verbs can be analyzed as cases of metonymic relationships. 'Author the book,' for example, can be analyzed as AGENT FOR A CHARACTERISTIC ACTIVITY OF THAT AGENT.
Chapter 17, on 'Metaphors and blends,' has been significantly expanded in this second edition to address recent developments in conceptual integration theory, including Fauconnier and Turner's typology of blends (see Fauconnier and Turner 2002). The chapter also benefits from newly drawn network diagrams, which are much clearer here than in the first edition.
The penultimate chapter, on 'Metaphor in discourse,' is the second new chapter. It looks at three areas in particular, each very well supported by examples: metaphorical coherence within and across discourse; contextual factors that contribute to creativity, for example in using elements of a source domain which are not typically mapped; and face-to-face discourse. This last topic draws heavily on the work of Lynne Cameron (e.g. Cameron 2007, 2008). The chapter ends by returning to the distinction between conceptual metaphor theory and conceptual integration theory, illustrating this with examples from discourse and in light of the discussion of the effect of context in this chapter.
Chapter 19, finally, tackles the question 'How does all this hang together?' from three perspectives: that of the supraindividual level at which the conceptual metaphors of a language are identified, the individual level where language users draw on metaphor in online thinking, and the subindividual level, which is particularly relevant for metaphors motivated by embodiment. Under the heading of 'Some recent issues in the study of metaphor', Kövecses ends by identifying possible areas of future research, and by outlining how the different theoretical approaches fit together in a complementary manner.
The book ends with a concise and clearly expressed glossary, solutions to exercises, bibliography, a general index, and an index of conceptual metaphors and metonymies.
This is an excellent introduction to conceptual metaphor, one which undergraduate students, graduate students, and general readers will find accessible yet thought-provoking. This edition has been significantly updated and improved, while retaining the features that have made it a well-loved book for students, such as clear expression, interesting exercises with a useful key, concise chapter summaries, and a very handy index of metaphors and metonymies.
As with any book that aims to survey broad concepts that draw on multiple disciplines, there are always places where one might wish for greater detail. To give just one example, this is the case with the newly-added overview of the neural theory of metaphor in Chapter 6. Kövecses notes that it is only possible here to give ''the barest outline'' of the theory (p. 87), which is a pity, as there is not space in this outline to draw out the implications of the theory for metaphor theory more generally. The chapter's further reading section does give a few references, however, for readers who require a fuller treatment. This topic has not been added to the index, although the index has been updated to include the other new additions.
In most respects, however, even where the treatment of a topic is necessarily brief, Kövecses manages to provide an excellent overview of the key points, and outstanding contextualisation and illustration.
Cameron, L. (2007). Patterns of metaphor use in reconciliation talk. Discourse and Society 18: 197-222.
Cameron, L. (2008). Metaphor and talk. In Raymond Gibbs, ed., The Cambridge Handbook of Metaphor and Thought, 197-211. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Fauconnier, G. and Turner, M. (2002). The Way We Think. New York: Basic Books.
Kövecses, Z. and Szabó, P. (1996). Idioms: a view from cognitive linguistics. Applied Linguistics 17(3): 326-355.
Lakoff, G. (2008). The neural theory of metaphor. In R. Gibbs, ed., The Cambridge Handbook of Metaphor and Thought, 17-38. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Pragglejaz Group (2007). MIP: A method for identifying metaphorically used words in discourse. Metaphor and Symbol 22(1): 1-39.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Wendy Anderson is a Lecturer in the Department of English Language,
University of Glasgow, Scotland. Her teaching and research interests
include: semantics, corpus linguistics, English, Scots and French, and
translation. Between 2004 and 2008, she was Research Assistant for the
Scottish Corpus of Texts and Speech (SCOTS), and Corpus of Modern Scottish
Writing projects, at the University of Glasgow. Recently, with John
Corbett, also University of Glasgow, she published 'Exploring English with
Online Corpora' (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009).