LINGUIST List 32.973

Tue Mar 16 2021

Review: Discourse Analysis; Pragmatics: Perrez, Reuchamps, Thibodeau (2019)

Editor for this issue: Jeremy Coburn <>

Date: 19-Apr-2020
From: Mir Sabbir Hasan <>
Subject: Variation in Political Metaphor
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Book announced at

EDITOR: Julien Perrez
EDITOR: Min Reuchamps
EDITOR: Paul H. Thibodeau
TITLE: Variation in Political Metaphor
SERIES TITLE: Discourse Approaches to Politics, Society and Culture 85
PUBLISHER: John Benjamins
YEAR: 2019

REVIEWER: Mir Sabbir Hasan, Universität Bremen


Chapter- 1: First Lady, Secretary of State and Presidential Candidate: A Comparative Study of the Role-dependent Use of Metaphor in Politics

Does position or gender influence the use of metaphor? This chapter tried to answer this question. To date there have been no studies that look at a single politician in different roles. Hilary Rodham Clinton is probably the best possible person to look at to find this answer. Kathleen Ahrens did a corpus based study to address this issue. Hilary Clinton was the first lady of the United States from 1993 to 2000, senator from 2001 to 2008 and Presidential candidate of the Democratic party in 2008. In order to examine her metaphor usage, three corpora are created: The First Lady Corpus, which contains 253 speeches and approximately 888,000 words, the Senator Corpus, which contains 131 speeches and approximately 360,000 words and the 2008 Presidential Candidate Corpus, which contains 106 speeches and in approximately 357.000 words. The searcher examines the conceptual war metaphor of Lakoff and Johnson “Politics is war“ in speech of Hilary Clinton. The study shows position has clear influence on metaphor usage. Hilary Clinton used the war metaphor more as senator than as first lady; and as presidential candidate, the use of war metaphor even increased further. The target domain of metaphor also changes with position. For example, as first lady the target domain was mainly “healthcare, stopping disease, or violence; as senator the target domain was privacy; and the target domains were America and terrorism when she was a Presidential candidate. This study could not clearly show how gender influences metaphor.

Chapter- 2: Fairies, Christmas Miracles and Sham Marriages

A Diachronic Analysis of Deliberate Metaphors in Belgian Political Discourse

Deliberate metaphor use refers to the intentional use of metaphor. Pauline Heyvaert focuses on the deliberate use of metaphor by Belgian government from 2006 to 2016. In this decade Belgium went through some crucial crises. Researchers developed a corpus of over one million words including the speeches of five different Belgian Prime Ministers. Deliberate Metaphor Identification Procedure (DMIP) method is applied to analyse the data. Researchers find some patterns from the data. First, politicians used more metaphors at the beginning and at the end of political crises. Second, the Coalition government used slightly more metaphor. And finally, the highest number of deliberate metaphors and scenarios appeared in 2009. The study suggests the use of deliberate metaphor depends on political situation. Deliberate metaphor used more when Belgian politics was at its weakest or in an unstable situation. The same researcher said variation of metaphor can be driven by personal preference. In conclusion, researchers showed
some premises of further study.

Chapter- 3: The Rhetorical Use of Political Metaphor before, during and after The Presidency: Television Interviews with the Former Croatian President

In Chapter 3, Nikolina Borcic and Ivona Culo look at the nature of political metaphors used by former Croatian president, Ivo Josipović before, during and after his presidency. This study shows how the same metaphor is used differently in different times by the same person. Unlike the first two studies, the size of data of this study is relatively small and the result is interpreted qualitatively. Researchers adopt a sample of four political interviews with former Croatian President Ivo Josipović in a weekly talk show Nedjeljom u dva (Sundays at Two) telecast on the public television channel, Croatian Television Channel 1 (HTV) in 2009, 2012, 2015 and 2016, before, during and after his term. The researchers suggest the use of political metaphor varies according to the role a politician is fulfilling.

Chapter 4: Knifed in The Back: A Metaphor Analysis of Party Leadership Takeovers

Metaphor is both memorable and persuasive. In this chapter Ben Fenton-Smith examined the rhetorical, conceptual and pragmatic functions of metaphors in the discursive management of party leadership takeovers in Australia. The data of the study comprises a corpus of speeches given in the aftermath of political deposals in Australian federal politics from 1985 to 2018. On average the speeches were 1050 words long, the shortest being 638 words and the longest 1548 words. Ben Fenton-Smith suggested the reasons for the variations in the usages of metaphors are the influence of genre, function and ideology. The data are also analyzed in terms of recurrent semantic domains expressed through metaphors, namely:

1. 'Forks in the Road': journeys, paths, directions, movement back-and-forth
2. ''Tough Fights: politics as war, sport and games
3. ''Solid Foundations: building up climbing up, cutting down, eroding 4. Sleeves Rolled Up: leaders as laborers.

The study suggests that novel metaphors are more significant than recurring ones, because (a) they are less prone to the attention that befalls conventionalized metaphors, and (b) the mediated nature of political discourse ensures that most people only receive selected sound bites of political speeches. The extent to which certain metaphorical constructions tend to align with progressive or conservative leaders is also considered.

Chapter 5: Greek Metaphors in The Fiscal Straightjacket

In this chapter, Anastasios Vogiatzis, examines the use of figurative language, in particular the use of metaphor as a farming device in the contexts of Greek financial crisis from 2010 to 2011 by the Greek Prime Minister (PM) George A. Papandreou. This study is a combination of quantitative and qualitative study. Anastasios Vogiatzis developed a corpus with five speeches of PM George A. Papandreou. This corpus consists of 3,019 words, with a mean of 603.80 words. The aim of these speeches was to officially introduce to the public the collapse of the Greek economy, and most importantly, the change in the financial policies of the government, which would be, or were, characterized by harsh economic measures such as job cuts, reduction of wages and pensions, as well as cuts on social spending to name just a few. This study suggests that the metaphors build either positive or negative frames. Positive frames are almost three times more frequent than negative. What makes these metaphors far more interesting is that they are placed, metaphorically, in a straightjacket, i.e. the fiscal straightjacket.

Chapter 6- The Use of Sensorimotor Based Concepts during and after Presidential Campaigns Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump

This chapter aims to put a spotlight on Sensorimotor-based concepts (SBCs). SBCs are a variation of political metaphors as--due to the mental simulation process--they inherently possess the power to influence us subliminally. Liane Ströbel analyzes the use of SBCs in the speech of Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump during and after presidential campaigns. The particular challenge with this kind of metaphor is that for a long time they have kept a low profile. The chapter seeks to call attention to SBCs and to the extent to which this subgroup of metaphors orchestrates a wide pragmatic range of precise, persuasive functions, by discussing differences in their usage during the French and U.S. presidential campaigns. The study found the percentage of the SBCs in Emmanuel Macron´s speech dropped tremendously after the election. In the case of Donald Trump, the study found parallels in the use of audiovisual concepts in the speeches before and after winning the election.

Chapter 7- Variations of Metaphors in Party Manifestos about EU Finality. Assessing Party Positions through Conceptual Metaphors

In the penultimate Chapter 7, Jan Kovář presents a political analysis of the variation in metaphors produced by political parties. Political parties play an important role in offering the voters different choices on the European Union (EU) and European integration. The aim of this paper is to study methodological representation of EU finality, the question is how and why metaphor analysis may complement political science methods. From a methodological point of view, the literature on party positions on European integration and closely related literature on Euroscepticism largely relies on coding of election manifestos and expert surveys/judgments. Jan Kovář adopts a different approach based on the analysis of metaphors used by political parties in the discourse about the future form of European integration. Manifestos of selected Czech political parties for the year of 2004, 2009 and 2014 European Parliament elections are taken as data. The analysis is subsequently connected to party positions on European integration and Euroscepticism.

Chapter 8: Variation in Methods for Studying Political Metaphor: Comparing Experiments and Discourse Analysis.

The last chapter of the book is about variation in the two most common methods for studying metaphor: the Critical Discourse Approach (CDA) and Experimental Response Elicitation Approach (REA). The aim of the study is to discover how scholars have used the two approaches to research, analyzing how the two approaches are similar and different. What are the strengths and limitations of each approach? Paul Thibodeau, James Fleming and Maya Lannen are cognitive psychologists and naturally they have more experience with experiments, and their discussion is grounded in an exposition of the logic and mechanics of experimental design. But they advocate for methodological pluralism. They suggest that some research questions are better addressed through discourse analysis; others are better addressed with experiments. So embracing the strength and limitations of the two approaches can help scholars to develop more useful theories about the nature of metaphor.


Politicians like to use persuasive language to persuade people, to think in a particular way or even to manipulate their thinking. Metaphor plays an important rhetorical role in persuasive language because it has the potential to exploit the associative power of language in order to provoke an emotional response on the part of the hearer (Charteris-Black 2004:134). Metaphors, being both memorable and persuasive, are one way in which politicians meet the public's expectation for oratorical competency and thereby enhance their reputation (Charteris-Black 2014). So researchers were always interested in analysis of the metaphor of political speech (Fillmore 2014; Taylor 2009). But in recent decades, metaphor research in the domain of political discourse is thriving.

The book Variation in Political Metaphor is a collection of 10 studies by different researchers, including the introduction and conclusion. They show the relevance of studying metaphor. They also claim metaphor theory gets a new height in political discourse. A logical connection between metaphor and Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) is drawn in this book. The objective of this book is to bring together these scholars and to foster an interdisciplinary dialogue about metaphors in political discourse. Political use of metaphor is not merely confined to discourse because it is also used to create a particular discourse to achieve a particular goal. So the factors which might influence metaphor are also taken into consideration like gender, function or time. Scholars like Kövecses and Musolff studied intercultural, cross cultural variation and variability. But this book seeks to understand why metaphors are used in a political context.

This book is designed as a textbook for the undergraduate and graduate students. This book will also be very helpful for researchers.


Charteris-Black, Jonathan. “Analysing Political Speeches.” 2014, doi:10.1007/978-1-137-36833-1

Charteris-Black, Jonathan. “Why „an Angel Rides in the Whirlwind and Directs the Storm‟: A Corpus-Based Comparative Study of Metaphor in British and American Political Discourse.” Advances in Corpus Linguistics, Jan. 2004, doi:10.1163/9789004333710_009.

Fillmore, Charles J. “An Alternative to Checklist Theories of Meaning.” Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society, vol. 1, 2014, doi:10.3765/bls.v1i0.2315.

Taylor, John R. Linguistic Categorization. Oxford Univ. Press, 2009.


Mir Sabbir Hasan is doing his second Masters in English Speaking Culture at University of Bremen. His research interests include Corpus Linguistics, World Englishes and Multimodality.

Page Updated: 16-Mar-2021