LINGUIST List 25.4310

Thu Oct 30 2014

Review: Cognitive Sci; Discourse; Pragmatics; Semantics: Gonzálvez-García, Peña Cervel, Pérez Hernández (2013)

Editor for this issue: Sara Couture <>

Date: 28-Apr-2014
From: Nina Julich <>
Subject: Metaphor and Metonymy revisited beyond the Contemporary Theory of Metaphor
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Book announced at

EDITOR: Francisco Gonzálvez-García
EDITOR: María Sandra Peña Cervel
EDITOR: Lorena Pérez Hernández
TITLE: Metaphor and Metonymy revisited beyond the Contemporary Theory of Metaphor
SUBTITLE: Recent developments and applications
SERIES TITLE: Benjamins Current Topics 56
PUBLISHER: John Benjamins
YEAR: 2013

REVIEWER: Nina Julich, Westsächsische Hochschule Zwickau

Review's Editor: Helen Aristar-Dry


So far, the Conceptual Theory of Metaphor (henceforth CTM) has basically focused on cognition and conceptual structure. This edited volume is meant to extend and complement CTM by presenting recent theoretical findings on the one hand and by including current applications of CTM to such diverse fields as discourse analysis, text linguistics, second language learning and translation on the other hand. The papers compiled in this volume have been previously published in a special issue of “Review of Cognitive Linguistics“ (2011, Volume 9, Issue 1).

Part one: The contemporary theory of metaphor: revisions and recent developments.
This section begins with a paper by Zoltán Kövecses – one of the leading scholars in conceptual metaphor research. In “Recent developments in metaphor theory. Are the new views rival ones?“, Kövecses compares recent approaches to conceptual metaphor, like the categorization view, standard CTM, blending theory, the neural theory of metaphor, CTM based on main meaning focus, and relevance theory against one another with respect to their analysis of the famous example “This surgeon is a butcher.“ He concludes by suggesting that the theories do not present opposing strands but that they are in fact compatible with one another.

The second contribution is by a similar prominent figure in metaphor research, Gerard J. Steen. In “The contemporary theory of metaphor - now new and improved!,“ Steen challenges Lakoff‘s ‘old‘ theory of metaphor by suggesting that metaphor might best be studied in terms of a three-dimensional model comprising metaphor in language, metaphor in thought, and metaphor in communication. Within metaphor in communication, he introduces the concept of deliberate metaphor (p. 37). According to Steen, “deliberate metaphor is an overt invitation on the part of the sender for the addressee to step outside the dominant target domain of the discourse and look at it from an alien source domain“ (p. 38). “Science is like a glacier“ is given as an example for a deliberate use of a metaphor.

Similarly, in “Awareness in metaphor understanding. ‘The Lingering of the Literal,‘“ Hanna Stöver emphasizes the importance of conscious awareness in metaphor comprehension and processing from a Relevance Theory perspective. She claims that “we are consciously aware of the literal meaning of a metaphorical expression even if we know that it is not part of the propositional meaning intended“ (p.68). Particularly for creative metaphors, there is a “tension“ (p. 69) between literal and figurative meaning. She argues that the greater the tension, the higher the awareness of the metaphoricity of a given expression, which in turn points to a metaphor being actively processed. To support her claims, Stöver lists some introspectively collected translational data.

In “Productivity of Spanish verb-noun compounds. Patterns of metonymy and metaphor,“ Jiyoung Yoon analyses the role that metaphor and metonymy as well as their interaction play in the morphological process of compounding. In line with common assumptions in metaphor research, Yoon understands metaphor as a domain-external cognitive mapping from source to target and metonymy as a domain-internal operation (p. 87). Yoon identifies seven types of Spanish [V+N] compounds according to the referents they designate. He then provides an analysis of how metaphor and metonymy interact in the creation of these compounds identifying four different patterns: (i) only metonymy (ii) metonymy derived from metaphor (iii) metaphor derived from metonymy and (iv) metaphor interacting with metonymies.

Part two: Metaphor and / or metonymy across different discourse / genres types.
In “Motion metaphors in discourse construction,“ Joaquin Garrido argues that discourse construction is both compositional and recursive: smaller units make up larger ones, and preceding units connect to and influence the meaning of following ones. In the construction of a discourse, metaphor can either contribute to discourse structure (as is the case of extended metaphor, in which the use of a single mapping creates coherence) or result from it (p. 124). He concludes by stating that motion metaphors are created and understood in terms of a connection process including the syntactic and semantic structure of sentences as well as textual structure and the whole discourse.

Elena Semino is one of the main figures in metaphor and discourse research. In her contribution to this volume, “The adaptation of metaphors across genres,“ Semino explores how a metaphor first introduced in a specialist environment is adapted for pedagogical purposes in other contexts. The specific metaphor discussed is the GATE metaphor used to describe the mechanisms behind our experience of pain, e.g. “These gates open and let pain messages through the pain system, so that we feel pain.” (p. 144). Concluding, Semino states that on the one hand the adaptation of the GATE metaphor to a broader range of audience may facilitate the understanding of the complexities of human pain experience; on the other hand, however, the modification and expansion especially in terms of simplification may lead to inaccuracies.

In “Multimodal metonymy and metaphor as complex discourse resources for creativity in ICT advertising discourse“, Laura Hidalgo Downing and Blanca Kraljevic Mujic discuss how both phenomena may interact in multimodal contexts. The authors present an analysis of how metonymy and metaphor give rise to complex meaning in five information and communication technology advertisements. In all cases, metonymy relates the new products to concrete, familiar objects. As a second step, these objects then metaphorically stand for entities in the ICT domain, for example INTERNET IS A HIGHWAY. It seems to be a general pattern that the metonymically-understood concept is presented visually.

Carmen Sancho Guinda and Ismael Arinas Pellón examine the language used in engineering patents in “How patent can patents be? Exploring the impact of figurative language on the engineering patent genre.“ In their analysis they identify three components typical of patent discourse: ideational content, a textual component and interpersonal meaning. In the main body, they analyze the role of metaphor and metonymy in those three dimensions. The most frequent metaphors are INVENTIONS / DEVICES ARE LIVING ORGANISMS, metaphors based on FORCE DYNAMICS, metaphors based on CONTAINMENT and GENERIC IS SPECIFIC.

In “Euphemistic conceptual metaphors in epitaphs from Highgate Cemetery,“ Eliecer Crespo Fernández explores the function of conceptual metaphor as a purely euphemistic device in the specific discourse of epitaphs. An epitaph is understood as a goal-oriented text aiming to both “indicate the identity and resting place of the dead“ and comfort the bereaved (p. 204). In an authentic corpus of 160 epitaphs from North London‘s Highgate Cemetery, Fernández identifies seven conceptual source domains for death: a journey, a rest / a sleep, a joyful life, a call from God, a loss and an end. Interestingly enough, death in most cases is viewed as a positive event in order to provide consolation to the bereaved. The author concludes that metaphor is a common device mitigating a taboo like death.

Part three: The contemporary theory of metaphor: Current applications.
The first contribution by Frank Boers explores the application of CTM to foreign language teaching. In “Cognitive Semantic ways of teaching figurative phrases. An assessment,“ Boers reviews studies between 1996-2010 in that field and summarizes the main tenets of how CTM may contribute to foreign language teaching. In most studies, the experimental groups being introduced to cognitive semantics scored significantly better than the comparison groups regarding vocabulary comprehension, retention and production. Apart from that, Boers discusses three general aspects that have to be taken into account in cognitive semantics informed pedagogy. First, rather than providing a tool for deciphering newly encountered figurative phrases, CTM “deepens“ understanding of figurative phrases (p. 246). Second, the use of pictorials may enhance retention of meaning but it probably does not enhance retention of the exact form of a figurative phrase. Third, different learning styles, the kind of motivation for language learning and the level of proficiency may have an impact on the effectiveness of cognitive semantics-informed pedagogy. Concluding, he remarks that findings from cognitive semantics should complement mainstream L2 teaching practice and not replace them.

The second contribution of this more applied part by Eva Samaniego Fernández discusses “Translation Studies and the cognitive theory of metaphor.“ In general, Translation Studies faces two issues: First, the translatability of metaphor and second, procedures for translating metaphor. So far, these have remained controversial issues. For the former, scholars propose a continuum from translatable (which applies to dead or conventional metaphor) to untranslatable (which applies to novel metaphors). Concluding, she remarks that Translation Studies can benefit from more descriptive cognitive approaches, instead of descriptive ones, which take into account the role of culture played in the source text universe as well as the target text universe. She furthermore acknowledges the role of the translator as an intelligent agent who is influenced by both cultural and individual factors.

In “Distinguishing near-synonyms and translation equivalents in metaphorical terms. ‘Crises‘ vs. ‘recession‘ in English and Spanish,“ Ana María Rojo López explores whether the near-synonyms exhibit differences when used in metaphorical expressions. In order to pursue that aim, the author combines corpus linguistics methodology, especially Stefanowitsch‘s Metaphorical Pattern Analysis (2004, 2006), with an image sorting experiment. Her corpus consists of English and Spanish Newspaper articles which were searched with the help of ‘Webcorp.‘ Metaphorical patterns reveal, for example, that ‘crisis‘ tends to be conceptualized as an animate entity and occurs in dynamic events whereas ‘recession‘ tends to be construed as an inanimate entity and occurs in more static events. In addition to that, an experiment was conducted which supports the corpus findings.


Part one nicely draws our attention to recent approaches to metaphor and also offers new developments situating metaphor in a broader, more communicative context. The paper by Kövecses provides a good overview of recent approaches. It is especially valuable to students and young scholars who need to familiarize themselves with the vast literature on metaphor and the different perspectives taken therein. His analysis nicely complies with the overall aims of the book in that it highlights the dynamic and interactive nature of metaphor and metonymy in the construction of meaning. Nevertheless, it remains an open question if meaning construction is based on similar mechanisms as sketched out here for all metaphors. Several typologies of metaphor have been identified suggesting that different types of metaphors rely on different cognitive mechanisms (cf. Grady 1999, Gentner and Bowdle 2008, Ruiz de Mendoza and Perez 2011).

In a similar fashion, Steen‘s paper presents a recent evaluation of CTM. In suggesting a discourse-analytical framework which embeds metaphor within an interdisciplinary context including its linguistic, psychological and social dimension, his ideas strongly underline the volume‘s main aims. The notion of deliberate metaphor which results from the introduction of a communicative dimension to metaphor, however, remains controversial. Steen himself admits that the concept is still in need of further theoretical elaboration and empirical research (p. 43). A discussion about the term can also be found in the first issue of “Metaphor and the Social World“ (2011). A strong criticism in there is put forward by Gibbs who remarks that deliberateness is too complex a phenomenon to make assumptions about just by looking at language (2011: 46).

Stöver‘s paper is in line with Steen in that it draws attention to awareness of the metaphoricity of an expression. Although an interesting line of research, the notion of metaphor deliberateness or awareness is highly controversial, and the connection to how a metaphor is processed is far from straightforward (cf. Gibbs 2011). Stöver‘stranslational asymmetries present quite interesting examples, nevertheless, one has to bear in mind that those were collected introspectively and thus only count as weak evidence for her hypotheses.

Apart from sketching out recent developments in CTM, it is one of the authors‘ main aims to highlight the function that metaphor and metonymy play in meaning construction at larger units such as text or discourse. In the five contributions of the second part, the reader is provided with interesting applications of CTM to specific discourses. The contributions all highlight the purposes that metaphor and metonymy fulfill in situated communicative situations.

Garrido’s paper contributes to research in the field of metaphor and discourse. In addition to bottom-up mechanisms, he emphasizes that metaphorical meaning might be constructed in a top-down way on the basis of discourse structure, a point which, to my knowledge, has received less attention.

Elena Semino‘s paper is an excellent account of how a specialist metaphor may be adapted to other less specialist and more educational contexts. She provides a thorough analysis of the case in questions, listing linguistic, conceptual and functional features of the GATE metaphor in different contexts. Apart from her qualitative in-depth analysis, she interprets her findings from a more general perspective suggesting typical features that enhance metaphor adaption and general patterns that arise when scientific metaphors are adapted to a greater variety of texts and to a broader range of audience.

Laura Hidalgo Downing and Blanca Kraljevic Mujic’s paper emphasizes that the distinction between metaphor and metonymy seems one of the major problems yet to be solved in cognitive linguistics. Multimodal contexts represent a suitable objective in order to tackle that problem. The function of metonymy as ‘anchoring‘ metaphor in complex meaning construction has also been identified for metaphorical gestures (Mittelberg &amp; Waugh 2009). However, as is the problem with many studies regarding metaphor as well as metonymy, it is not always made transparent how the authors identified figurative meanings and why they labeled them in the way they did.

Guinda &amp; Pellón‘s analysis is similar in that the delineation between metaphor and metonymy is not always made clear. Furthermore, their corpus analysis, unfortunately, is not made transparent. Nevertheless, their findings may serve as a useful guide for teaching how to write patents because many typical constructions are described and analyzed according to their potential semantic prosody.

Frank Boers‘ paper affords a good start into the third and final part of the volume presenting recent applications of CTM. Adopting “a devil‘s advocate stance“ (p. 237), Boers critically inspects former findings and provides us with possible reinterpretations and multiple factors to be taken into account, thereby dampening striking effects that have been claimed by some of the studies. Furthermore, Frank Boers‘ paper is especially valuable for teachers who aim to incorporate findings from CTM into language teaching.

The contribution by Samaniego Fernández complies with the volume’s overall goal by calling for a more informed translation with respect to the communicative function of metaphor. Furthermore, she calls for more interdisciplinary approaches focusing on the role of the translator. Her article is highly valuable for those operating in Translation Studies, as metaphor still remains one of the main challenges translators have to face.

López‘s contribution presents a study that is methodologically well designed. First of all, she is aware of the amount of intuition in metaphor analyses and tries to avoid that by relying on MPA and basing her analysis on FrameNet. Furthermore, she aims to complement her linguistic findings from the corpus with psychological data. It is this kind of combined methodology which strives for finding converging evidence that renders strong results. It is sometimes doubtful, however, whether the stimuli used in her experiment were chosen wisely. As the author notes herself, many of them are complex and factors not controlled for may have influenced the subjects‘ decision (cf. p. 312).

Summarizing, this volume presents an interesting survey of various fields of metaphor and metonymy research and application. Many contributions direct our attention to the dynamic nature of these two tropes on various linguistic and textual levels as well as call for a more situated and dynamic approach. The book is valuable to both cognitive linguistic scholars as well as to teachers and translators who wish to apply CTM. It has to be noted, however, that in some parts the book is poorly edited and mistakes may distract the reader‘s attention. Moreover, although the title suggest an equal discussion of metaphor and metonymy, the majority of contributions focus on metaphor.


Gentner, D. &amp; B. Bowdle. 2008. Metaphor as structure-mapping. In R.W. Gibbs (Ed.). The Cambridge Handbook of Metaphor and Thought. 109–128. New York: CUP.

Gibbs, R. W. 2011. Are “deliberate” metaphors really deliberate?: A question of human consciousness and action. Metaphor and the Social World. 1(1). 26–52.

Grady, J. E. 1999. A typology of motivation for conceptual metaphor. Correlation vs. resemblance. In R. W. Gibbs &amp; G. J. Steen (Eds.). Metaphor in cognitive linguistics. 79-100. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins.

Lakoff, G. 1993. The contemporary theory of metaphor. In A. Ortony (Ed.). Metaphor and Thought. 2. ed. 202-251. CUP.

Lakoff, G. &amp; M. Johnson. 1999. Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought. New Work: Basic Books.

Lakoff, G. &amp; M. Johnson. 1980. Metaphors We Live By. University Of Chicago Press.

Mittelberg, I. &amp; L. R. Waugh. 2009. Metonymy first, metaphor second: A cognitive-semiotic approach to multimodal figures of thought in co-speech gesture. In C. J. Forceville &amp; E. Urios-Aparisi (Eds.). Multimodal Metaphor. 329–356. Berlin, New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

Ruiz de Mendoza Ibáñez, F. J., &amp; L. Pérez Hernández. 2011. The Contemporary Theory of Metaphor: Myths, Developments and Challenges. Metaphor and Symbol. 26(3). 161–185.

Stefanowitsch, A. 2004. HAPPINESS in English and German: A metaphorical-pattern analysis. In M. Achard &amp; S. Kemmer (eds.). Language, Culture, and Mind. 137-140. Standford: CSLI Publications.

Stefanowitsch, A. &amp; S. Th. Gries 2006. Corpus-based Approaches to Metaphor and Metonymy. Berlin, New Work: Mouton de Gruyter.


Currently, I am a PhD student at Leipzig University. I am in my third year. My interests are conceptual metaphor theory and metonymy. My PhD explores the use of these two tropes in the language that we use to describe classical musical pieces. Apart from that I have a position at Zwickau University of Applied Sciences where I teach technical English for mechanical and electrical engineers.

Page Updated: 30-Oct-2014