ArticlePDF Available
... Metaphors represent a "necessary, not just nice" element of everyday thought and communication (Ortony, 1975;Lakoff and Johnson, 1980;van den Broek, 1981;Schäffner, 2004), as the underlying motivation of metaphorical language usage is to facilitate the understanding of a more abstract target domain through linguistic expressions of a more concrete source domain (Lakoff and Johnson, 1980). For example, the metaphorical sentences I am at a crossroads in my life or He's never let anyone get in his way, illustrate how the abstract concept of life in English is expressed through the more concrete concept of a journey. ...
... For example, the metaphorical sentences I am at a crossroads in my life or He's never let anyone get in his way, illustrate how the abstract concept of life in English is expressed through the more concrete concept of a journey. More than a simple stylistic way of expressing one's thoughts, metaphors are a powerful instrument to facilitate communication, as they are used to explain and/or explicate things (Kirklin, 2007;Stefanowitsch, 2008) that are unfamiliar or unknown (Glucksberg, 1989), but also in a more efficient way (Ortony, 1975). They have proven to shape thinking and influence reasoning (Boroditsky, 2011;Thibodeau and Boroditsky, 2011;Thibodeau et al., 2017), and they may also represent an effective persuasive device (Van Stee, 2018). ...
Preprint
Full-text available
Research on metaphorical language has shown ties between abstractness and emotionality with regard to metaphoricity; prior work is however limited to the word and sentence levels, and up to date there is no empirical study establishing the extent to which this is also true on the discourse level. This paper explores which textual and perceptual features human annotators perceive as important for the metaphoricity of discourses and expressions, and addresses two research questions more specifically. First, is a metaphorically-perceived discourse more abstract and more emotional in comparison to a literally-perceived discourse? Second, is a metaphorical expression preceded by a more metaphorical/abstract/emotional context than a synonymous literal alternative? We used a dataset of 1,000 corpus-extracted discourses for which crowdsourced annotators (1) provided judgements on whether they perceived the discourses as more metaphorical or more literal, and (2) systematically listed lexical terms which triggered their decisions in (1). Our results indicate that metaphorical discourses are more emotional and to a certain extent more abstract than literal discourses. However, neither the metaphoricity nor the abstractness and emotionality of the preceding discourse seem to play a role in triggering the choice between synonymous metaphorical vs. literal expressions. Our dataset is available at https://www.ims.uni-stuttgart.de/data/discourse-met-lit.
... Given the large amount of curricular activities that children already receive, one might ask why we are focusing on teaching metaphors. To answer this question, it is important to highlight that reaching full-fledged metaphor skills represents an important achievement in language development, as metaphors can help accomplish several goals in communication, including talking about abstract and complex concepts, increasing memorability, expressing feelings, and provoking thoughts (Katz, 1996;Ortony, 1975), with positive effects also on peer social relationships (Del Sette et al., 2021). Figurative language is very common also in teachers' classroom language, where it can be used to admonish, praise, express humor and sarcasm (Kerbel & Grunwell, 1997), and, most importantly, as a pedagogical tool (Littlemore et al., 2011). ...
... The main contribution of this study is presenting an effective program to promote metaphor comprehension in typically developing children. This is something that was missing in the panorama of available tools and it can be used by teachers and educators to help children benefit from the numerous advantages of a successful metaphor comprehension (Littlemore et al., 2011;Ortony, 1975), perhaps in combination with other means such as a scientific articles on metaphor accessible to young readers (see, for example, Kalandadze et al., 2021). More specifically, the utility of the MetaCom is linked to the importance of metaphor in the language and literature curriculum (Peskin, 2010), as well as to the high frequency of metaphor in classroom discourse in several topics (Cameron, 2003), and it extends to social communication at large, given the importance of metaphors for peer social relationship starting from middle childhood (Del Sette et al., 2021). ...
Article
Although metaphors are essential tools in everyday communication and educational settings, the literature lacks evidence of effective training tools to promote metaphor comprehension in typical development. Grounding in theoretical pragmatics, we developed a novel metaphor comprehension training (MetaCom) for school-age children that focuses on inferential and contextual aspects of metaphors. The effects of the MetaCom were tested against a control training focusing on text comprehension in a randomized controlled trial involving 55 children aged between 8;8 and 9;8. Only children in the MetaCom group improved in the ability to verbally explain the meaning of a metaphor. Moreover, only the MetaCom showed transfer effects to reading comprehension. These findings suggest that targeting inference and attention to context is key to promote metaphor understanding, and that the benefits might extend to linguistic and communicative skills at large. The MetaCom training can thus represent a promising tool for educational programs, possibly also in atypical populations.
... Within this broad category, however, we should identify those subgroups of children (Norbury, 2005;Gernsbacher and Pripas-Kapit, 2012;Kalandadze et al., 2018) who understand and/or produce at least some typologies of metaphors. Devising interventions for these children is particularly challenging because, for them, metaphors are actually strengths which therefore deserve to be enhanced at communication and also at learning level (Ortony, 1975). ...
Article
Full-text available
This article reviews the literature reporting on the trainings implemented with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) without intellectual disability to enhance their capability to cope with metaphor comprehension. The studies in this review can be classified into two main strands of thought, behavioral-analytic and psycholinguistic, respectively. Beyond some basic similarities all these studies share in their attempt at training children to consider the semantic features of metaphors, the mental pathways activated by those trainings are based on different cognitive and linguistic processes. The trainings based on the behavioral-analytic perspective teach the meaning of metaphors by making an extensive use of prompts: iconic, echoic, and textual. In the trainings based on the psycholinguistic perspective, instead, a wide range of activities are devised to stimulate children's analytical abilities to cope with semantic relations in metaphors. A significant part of these activities are jointly conducted between adult and children, and aimed at promoting the child's autonomy. Among the most interesting theoretical challenges stemming from the abovementioned studies, this review considers the spontaneous creation of original metaphors in children with ASD when solicited to understand metaphorical expressions. This unexpected reaction highlights the complexity of the relationships between metaphor comprehension and production in children with ASD.
... Almost hand-in-hand came the idea that conceptual metaphors can have a special communicative use: Ortony (1975) argued that metaphors may serve to convey ideas difficult or even impossible to express in a compact and vivid way, and Fainsilber & Ortony (1987) proposed as a paradigm and experimentally studied emotional states, since "they tend to have an elusive, transient quality that is difficult to describe using literal language" (p. 241). ...
Article
Full-text available
This study examines the use of metaphors of war and journey in a million-word corpus of Spanish-language blogs written by patients with severe mental disorders and by mental health professionals. Quantitative results indicate that both metaphors are more prevalent among patients than professionals, supporting the idea that they are mostly used in this context for communicating complex and emotionally intense experiences. From a qualitative perspective, our results show that patients use both metaphors to deal with exactly the same ontological elements of the situation (the disorder, symptoms, negative emotions, everyday problems, social prejudice, medical activity, people close to the patients and the patients themselves) but framing them differently. Further analysis shows that both metaphors have positive and negative uses in terms of emotions conveyed, empowerment and suitability for coping with the situation. In light of this, we conclude with a discussion of proposals promoting the positive uses of these metaphors.
... Metaphors are "not just nice", but represent a "necessary" element of everyday thought and communication (Ortony, 1975;Lakoff and Johnson, 1980;van den Broek, 1981;Schäffner, 2004, i.a.), and are ubiquitous in natural language text corpora (Gedigian et al., 2006;Shutova and Teufel, 2010;Steen et al., 2010, i.a.). From the perspective of natural language processing (NLP), automatic approaches to metaphor processing are therefore important for any task that requires natural language understanding, and NLP has been concerned with the detection (Köper and Schulte im Walde, 2016;Alnafesah et al., 2020;Ehren et al., 2020;Dankers et al., 2020, i.a.), the interpretation (Shutova, 2010;Bizzoni and Lappin, 2018;Mao et al., 2018, i.a.) and, the generation (Stowe et al., 2021;Zhou et al., 2021) of metaphors. ...
Preprint
Full-text available
Given a specific discourse, which discourse properties trigger the use of metaphorical language, rather than using literal alternatives? For example, what drives people to say "grasp the meaning" rather than "understand the meaning" within a specific context? Many NLP approaches to metaphorical language rely on cognitive and (psycho-)linguistic insights and have successfully defined models of discourse coherence, abstractness and affect. In this work, we build five simple models relying on established cognitive and linguistic properties -- frequency, abstractness, affect, discourse coherence and contextualized word representations -- to predict the use of a metaphorical vs. synonymous literal expression in context. By comparing the models' outputs to human judgments, our study indicates that our selected properties are not sufficient to systematically explain metaphorical vs. literal language choices.
Article
Full-text available
Deirdre Wilson (2018) provides a reflective overview of a volume devoted to the historic application of relevance-theoretic ideas to literary studies. She maintains a view argued elsewhere that the putative non-propositional nature of (among other things) literary effects are an illusion, a view which dates to Sperber and Wilson ( 1986/1995 : 224): “If you look at [non-propositional] affective effects through the microscope of relevance theory, you see a wide array of minute cognitive [i.e., propositional] effects.” This paper suggests an alternative, that modern-day humans have two apparently different modes of expressing and interpreting information: one of these is a system in which propositional, cognitive effects dominate; the other involves direct, non-propositional effects. The paper concludes by describing two ways such affects might be assimilated into relevance theory. The first, to accept that humans are much more than merely cognitive organisms; the second, to rethink quite radically what we mean by cognition.
Article
This study examined whether or not the number of topic-attributed features affects the speakers' use of metaphor production rather than literal expressions. Across two experiments, participants were asked to produce an expression that best paraphrased a given sentence. The number of features attributed to each topic was manipulated: one feature ("Her sarcasm hurts people"), two features ("Her sarcasm hurts people and is sharp"), and three features ("Her sarcasm hurts people, is sharp, and is piercing to the heart"). Participants' responses were classified into nominal metaphor/simile, literal, other metaphor/simile, and others. In both Experiment 1 and Experiment 2, participants' nominal metaphor responses (e.g., "Her sarcasm is a knife") increased with the number of topic-vehicles that shared significant features in a given sentence. These results suggest that the number of topic-attributed features affects participants' preference for the use of metaphorical expressions. We discussed the results based on the compactness hypothesis (Ortony, Educational Theory, 25: 45-53, 1975) of metaphor production.
Article
Undiagnosed and untreated postpartum mental health disorders represent a silent health crisis. The aim of this paper was to develop a lexicon of metaphors women use to describe their postpartum mood and anxiety disorders to assist holistic nurses in recognizing as early as possible these struggling mothers. Mothers may not know the medical terminology to articulate their mental health problems and may turn to using metaphors. The metaphors included in this lexicon were obtained from the author's earlier qualitative studies of metaphors women used to describe their experiences of postpartum depression, postpartum panic disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder due to traumatic childbirth. In this lexicon these metaphors are organized by these three mental health disorders and includes a table of definitions of each metaphor along with examples of the context of the metaphors represented by quotes from the mothers. Metaphors can be keys that open and unlock doors that stand between holistic nurses and their patients. Being attentive to metaphorical language women use to describe how they are feeling after giving birth can be an innovative approach holistic nurses can use to identify these vulnerable women and provide an opportunity to nurture and empower new mothers.
Article
Full-text available
Both written and oral communication are constantly involved, according to Prieto Grande (7), not only «hechos lingüísticos sino también culturales» in other words, according to Vez (edit.), Guillén y Alario (125) «hechos de cultura expresados por hechos de lengua». Proverbs can be considered as a gateway to culture, a deep popular culture. In addition, we have to say that proverbs constitute a very important linguistic and cultural content and an approximation to the other people’s culture. Based on the idea that proverbs hold a vast cultural richness, we suggest an approximation between two cultures: the Spanish and Romanian through the use of several proverbs related to meteorology and their correspondent translations. We would also like to highlight all those cultural elements that give them identity and make them turn into a big challenge not only for translators but also for teachers of Spanish as a Foreign Language.
Article
Describes 3 experiments in which undergraduates (N = 76) and graduate students (N = 84) were exposed to sentences containing general terms and then attempted to recall the last word of each sentence given single-word retrieval cues. Among 2 matched low associates of a general term, the cue referring to a case that resembled the most probable exemplar of the category named by the general term evoked the greater recall. Results seem to indicate that people use exemplars to represent the meanings of general terms, supporting an imagery theory of meaning. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)