Metaphors In Cognitive Linguistics English Literature Essay

Metaphors In Cognitive Linguistics English Literature Essay

The nature of metaphor. Are people cognizant of the being of metaphors in their mundane lives? Very frequently we treat them merely as stylistic devices, but in fact metaphorical looks verbally represent the manner of human thought and logical thinking. Peoples tend to gestate emotions, love being one of them, metaphorically because both emotions and metaphors connected with them are inevitable parts of mundane unrecorded.

” Without our ability to categorise, we would non work at all, either in the physical universe or in our societal and rational lives ” ( 1990: 6 ) explains Lakoff in Women, Fire and Dangerous Things. Harmonizing to Cognitive Linguistics, linguistic communication is a really powerful tool as it reflects the manner we categorize and conceptualise the universe we live in. It is about impossible to understand a thing without grouping it with other class members that portion the same belongingss. In making so, we get different sorts of constructs and, as a consequence, construct our general cognition.

Cognitive Linguistics allows us to understand that metaphorical thought is important to human knowledge. Thus, George Lakoff and Mark Johnson in their Metaphors we live by suggest a cognitive theory of metaphor, as a procedure thanks to which one construct is understood utilizing another construct ( Lakoff 1980: 5 ) . The best illustration of this is speaking about LOVE in footings of JOURNEYS. As mentioned antecedently, our ability to categorise allowed us to garner cognition about journeys that we can depend on in understanding love.

Zoltan Kovecses in Metaphor, A Practical Introduction emphasizes that we need to distinguish conceptual metaphor from metaphorical lingual looks. He proves that the latter unwrap the being of the former. Let us utilize a few illustrations to uncover the relationship between conceptual metaphor ( little capitals ) and metaphorical

looks ( italics ) .

LOVE IS A Journey

We ‘re at the hamlets.

It ‘s been rough route.

Our matrimony is on the stones.

We ‘re stuck.

We ca n’t turn back now.

( Kovecses 2002:6 )

We can reason that such metaphorical looks ”give us insight into the metaphorical nature of the constructs that construction our mundane activities ” ( Kovecses 2002: 7 ) .

How do we gestate emotions? Lakoff in Women, Fire and Dangerous Things views emotions as ‘ holding no conceptual content ‘ . However, I believe there must be some, as we are able to depict the strength of a peculiar emotion. Although feelings and emotions are highly hard to understand, these abstract constructs can be conceptualised with the aid of more concrete 1s ( Lakoff 1980:59 ) , that is why LOVE is conceptualised in footings of FIRE or WAR ( e.g. My love is on fire, I do non desire to acquire burned once more, This kindled love in his bosom ) . Concrete constructs facilitate the apprehension of these complex emotions.

There are many illustrations of metaphors of love ( which I will seek to show in the undermentioned chapters ) . They are common in mundane life as they present different facets of this powerful emotion. Without the impression of metaphor, we would non be able to grok such an abstract feeling as love. The strength plays an indispensable function in the manner we think of love, for case. The conceptual metaphor – Love IS FIRE emphasizes the being of love ( on fire ) , it ‘s strength ( fires ) , continuance and shows how love affects people ( He was consumed by love ) . Due to the being of metaphor, the most powerful emotions, love being one of them, can be interpreted.

1.2 Source and Target Domains

So far, we have managed to explicate that metaphor consists of two constructs and that we comprehend one construct in footings of another. These constructs are called spheres. Harmonizing to Kovecses, conceptual metaphors tend to utilize ”abstract construct as a mark and more concrete as their beginning ” ( 2002:6 ) .

LOVE IS A Journey

‘love ‘ forms the mark sphere ‘journey ‘ forms the beginning sphere

( a conceptual sphere we try ( a conceptual sphere we take a

to grok ) conceptual content from )

Equally far as metaphors of love are concerned, many people wonder why some endearments are more popular than others. Why the look ‘my sweet-heart ‘ is more popular so ‘my sweet-leg ‘ when speaking to the beloved individual? Why do we utilize one and non the other? When we look at the endearments incorporating fairy-like elements the most common are: prince-charming, my princess, my knight. Why is it like that? The reply is obvious, we choose these fairytale characters because we find some of their charactristics attractive and we want to impute them to the individual we love. Lakoff and Johnson claim that this sort of inclination is more regular instead than occasional ( 1980: 67 ) . The antecedently mentioned characters, are the SOURCE domains whereas the individual to be described the TARGET sphere. Similarly, from fire ( beginning in LOVE IS FIRE metaphor ) love takes its strength and from an insane individual ( beginning in LOVE IS MADNESS metaphor ) his/her quite irresponsible and unusual behavior.

The illustrations above show that the beginning sphere provides us with footings necessary to depict the mark sphere. As Lakoff proposes, in order to depict and understand the mark sphere, one must hold the cognition of the beginning sphere. Let us take LOVE IS A JOURNEY metaphor. We understand love because we have knowledge about journeys. Each clip we think about journeys, we consider travellers, path and finish. In order to understand love in footings of a journey, one must hold in head the thought of lovers as travellers, the class of their romantic relationship as an act of going with happy minutes every bit good as obstructions ( It ‘s been rough route ) . Our cognition about different sorts of journeys equips us with a powerful tool that can be used to do the description of love richer and more adequate.

1.3 Function

So far, we have established that a conceptual metaphor consists of two spheres: beginning and mark. We have besides found out that we need to take into history both spheres to to the full understand a conceptual metaphor. However, what does it intend to ‘understand ‘ a metaphor? Kovecses explains that the cognition of correspondences between these two spheres is necessary to grok a conceptual metaphor. We refer to these conceptual analogies as MAPPINGS ( Kovecses 2002: 6 ) . Let us take one illustration refering metaphor of love to see how the function can work.

We can non turn back now.

When we use the look can non turn back, we reveal that we are non traveling to alter the way and finish of our journey. ‘We ‘ refers to people involved in a journey. That is how we created three necessary elements of a journey: a finish, travellers and a journey as such. However, when we apply an appropriate context to the sentence, we will acquire a new significance of it. We will understand the whole sentence to be about love. Therefore, the travellers are lovers who discuss things that are go oning in their relationship while can non turn back can be interpreted as a state of affairs when lovers can non alter the class of events that happened to them.



‘We’- travellers ‘We’-lovers

Journey Romantic relationship

Finish of a journey Lovers ‘ purposes or ends

Troubles that travellers encounter Obstacles in the relationship

The illustration above shows that the apprehension of a conceptual metaphor goes from ”more concrete ( the journey ) to the more abstract construct ” ( events in the relationship ) ( Kovecses 2002: 6 ) . Such a regulation was called The Principle of Unidirectionality.

1.4 Metaphorical Systematicity: Highlightning and Concealment

We have already learnt that there is a systematicity that allows us to understand one construct in footings of another ( e.g. construing development of love in footings of a journey or the strength of love in footings of fire ) ( Lakoff, Johnson 1980:10 ) . However, what does systematicity intend? When we talk about love in footings of a journey, we use vocabulary that is usually applied when discoursing going e.g. We are at the hamlets. We can see that there is a sort of a form we tend to utilize. Thus, systematicity is a form that affects the manner we talk about love, leting us to utilize words or phrases that antecedently had been used to mention to different constructs ( Lakoff 1980: 7 ) .

Kovecses points out that when a metaphor concentrates on one or more characteristics of a construct, it highlights those characteristics. However, when one facet of a given construct is highlighted, the other 1s will be hidden ( 2002: 80 ) . Checking which characteristics are highlighted or hidden in the undermentioned metaphors of love will give more visible radiation to this interesting issue.


She was filled with love.

He poured out his fondnesss on her.

She could n’t keep in her love for him any longer.


She swept me off my pess.

Waves of passion came over him.

She was carried off by love.

( Lakoff 1980: 49 )

As we can see conceptual metaphors create and describe the mark sphere by directing attending at or concealing different angles of it. Therefore, in LOVE IS SUBSTANCE metaphor, the facet of content is highlighted, whereas the possible opportunity of development of a romantic feeling is concealed. The illustrations of LOVE IS A NATURAL FORCE metaphor reveal that love can non be controlled every bit good as show the strength of the emotion. However, the facet of an emotional enrichment, which is besides present when people experience such an overpowering feeling, is hidden.

1.5 Structural metaphors

So far we have found out that metaphors are non discussed merely as poetic devices but as ways of our thought and understanding abstract constructs. We can separate three sorts of metaphors: structural, ontological and orientational.

In ontological metaphors experiences are treated as concrete objects e.g. containers ( I put a batch of energy into fixing ornaments ) . When we deal with them in such a manner we can “ mention to them, categorise them, group them, and quantify them – and, by these agencies, ground about them ” ( Lakoff 1980:25 ) .

The group of orientational metaphors is said to be connected with our orientation in infinite. Concepts are connected with physical orientation, for case felicity is up ( I ‘m experiencing up ) and unhappiness is down ( I ‘m experiencing down ) ( Lakoff1980:16 ) .

Structural metaphor is the most productive type of all conceptual metaphors. Thankss to these metaphors, complex and abstract experiences can be understood in footings of simpler and more concrete 1s e.g. LOVE IS A JOURNEY. In Metaphors we live by Lakoff and Johnson province that ‘the conceptual system is metaphorical in nature ‘ ( 1980:4 ) . What does it intend, how can it construction the universe we live in and how does it act upon our activities? Let us take LOVE IS FIRE metaphor as an illustration.

My bosom is on fire.

He was consumed by love.

I do non desire to acquire burned once more.

That kindled love in his bosom.

Thankss to the metaphorical look That kindled love in his bosom, we can gestate love as holding a beginning and an terminal merely as fire has. When the fire is kindled, the love begins ; when it goes out, the love ends.

These illustrations besides prove that we non merely speak about love in footings of fire. The lover can be consumed by love when he/she is so in love that it is all that he/she thinks about. If the lover does non desire to acquire burned once more it may intend he/she does non desire to see the same serious dissapointment after an unsuccessful relationship. Due to the fact that ‘ the kernel of metaphor is understanding and sing one sort of thing in footings of another ‘ ( Lakoff 1980:5 ) , we can reason that love is ”structured and understood ” ( Lakoff 1980:5 ) in footings of fire.

1.6 Container Metaphors and Personification

Another sort of a conceptual metaphor has been called by Lakoff and Johnson the container metaphor. In container metaphors worlds are viewed as containers with boundaries and an orientation of interior and outside f.e. She was filled with love ( Lakoff 1980:29 ) . Equally far as non-physical objects are concerned, they can besides be comprehended by mentally change overing them into physical 1s. Let us conceive of our universe as a container with boundary lines dividing the interior from the exterior. It is clear when we take into consideration objects that have natural or unreal boundaries, for case suites. However, when we talk about our emotional provinces or conditions e.g. He is in love, the affair is non so obvious. Lakoff and Johnson suggest that we tend to gestate our emotions as containers, whereas the manner we feel when we experience peculiar emotions is conceptualised as being inside the container ( 1980:30 ) . Emotions can be besides comprehended in footings of substances e.g. His bosom was filled with love ( Bierwiaczonek 2002:140 ) . As Bierwiaczonek points out bosom and eyes are most often used as containers for emotions being understood with the aid of substances ( 2002:140 ) .

A important every bit good as interesting group of ontological metaphors are those depicting something as a individual: personifications ( Lakoff 1980: 33 ) . This means that we ascribe human characteristics to inanimate objects. Looking at metaphors of love, we are overwhelmed with a feeling that love has been personified in many metaphorical looks. The following are merely the most common illustrations.

Love can give you hope.

Love can be blind.

Love can be stamp.

What is even more appealing, love can travel through the same phases as worlds do in the class of life, love comes to life, it lasts and dies.


Lakoff, George. 1990. Women, Fire and Dangerous Things. What Categories Reveal

About the Mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Lakoff, George and Mark Johnson. 1980. Metaphors we live by. Chicago: University of

Chicago Press.

Kovecses, Zoltan, 2002. Metaphor, A Practical Introduction. Oxford University Press,


George Lakoff, 1993. ” Contemporary Theory of Metaphor ” . In Andrew Ortony, ( ed. )

Metaphor and Thought, 202-251. New York: Cambridge University Press.

McGlone, M.S. 1996. ” Conceptual Metaphors and Figurative Language Interpretation:

Food for Thought? ” Journal of Memory and Language, 35, 544-565.

Chapter 2


The theoretical accounts of love

In the old chapter we have managed to understand that thanks to metaphor, which is a important portion of our mundane life, we are able to gestate the universe we live in. We have admitted that metaphor can non be treated merely as a stylistic device because as Reddy suggests ”the venue of metaphor is thought, non linguistic communication ” ( in Lakoff 1980: 204 ) . Such an thought proves that our logical thinking every bit good as our behavior reflect the manner we metaphorically comprehend everything that happens in our lives.

Powerful emotions, love being one of them, are inevitable parts of the human being therefore metaphors such as LOVE IS FIRE or LOVE IS A CONTAINER aid us to understand this overpowering feeling. Very frequently love is seen as a sort of an award we get, something that enables us to make things we are usually afraid to make as it equips us with excess power. Harmonizing to Kovecses ( in Bierwiaczonek 2002:25 ) we distinguish two theoretical accounts of love: ideal and typical. Having in head that merely ideal love provides us with the antecedently mentioned power, it is non hard to think what sort of love we look for. In the ideal theoretical account of love, lovers see themselves as a integrity ( e.g. We are one ) as they complement each other. They are imbued with the feelings that their love is a true one, that they were created to populate together and that their love is immortal. The lovers believe that there is an emotional bond between them, which enables them to populate in a perfect harmoniousness. Acerate leaf to state, there are certain psychological effects that occur when we are in love: increased organic structure heat, blushing, increased bosom rate ( 2002: 25 ) .

There are many classs of love, nevertheless five of them are the most common.

Bierwiaczonek ( 2002:28 ) presents the undermentioned sorts of love:

FAMILY LOVE: PARENTAL and CHILD ‘S LOVE OF PARENTS, the household love is revealed through the attention and attending that parents give their kids and frailty versa ( e.g. Mother muzzled my cheek ) ; FRIENDSHIP, great liking for person, friendly relationship constitutes an emotional bond between people, it can even complement sexual love, give a new significance to it and enrich spouses ‘ realationship ; SEXUAL LOVE, sexual passion ; AGAPE, God ‘s esteem, Christian love and LOVE OF THINGS, fancy for stuff ownerships ( e.g. His love was money. )

Most of the metaphors of love consider sexual love, therefore for the intent of the work we will discourse merely these types of metaphors.

Metaphors of love

2.2.1 Metaphors of lovers

Metaphors of lovers are really challenging sorts of metaphors since they highlight the facet of lovers who are involved in a romantic relationship ( Bierwiaczonek 2002:112 ) . In the metaphor LOVE IS A UNITY, the metaphorical look We are one indicates that lovers are parts of a whole. Similarly, the metaphor LOVE IS A JOURNEY shows lovers as travellers, whereas the metaphor LOVE IS WAR presents them as participants in a war or even oppositions.


She is my better half They are unseparable There is a strong bond between them

( Bierwiaczonek 2002:113 )

The illustrations above prove that we can discourse lovers or believe approximately them as parts of a larger whole. Although metaphors reflecting our emotional provinces are used spontaneously, non all combinations are possible. The metaphorical look She is my better half absolutely suits when we consider ”she ” as a lover. When we think of ”she ” as a household member e.g. My Dendranthema grandifloruom is my better half, the whole look sounds pathetic ( Bierwiaczonek 2002:113 ) .

There are besides metaphors stressing the behavior of lovers f.g. Lovers ARE BIRDS ( f.e. Look at those two budgerigars on the bench ) . In LOVE IS MADNESS

metaphor, lovers are presented as insane people chiefly due to the strength of love which makes them act irresponsibly or, in utmost instances, lovers may lose control over themselves ( e.g. He has gone huffy about her ) .

2.2.2 Love is a journey metaphor

So far, the analysis of conceptual metaphor enabled us to explicate that such an abstract feeling as love can merely be comprehended with the aid of metaphor. Which metaphors of love can ease the apprehension of modern-day universe? How do people gestate these metaphors?

LOVE IS A Journey

It ‘s been a long, rough route.

Look how far we have come.

We are at a hamlets.

I do non believe this relationship is traveling anyplace.

We are stuck.

Our matrimony is on the stones.

We have gotten off the path.

We ‘ll merely hold to travel our separate ways.

( Lakoff 1980:45 )

As mentioned in the first chapter, people use concrete constructs to understand more abstract 1s ( Kovecses 2002:6 ) . Such a inclination justifies the fact of utilizing the construct of a journey when seeking to grok love. Deserving mentioning is besides the assortment of metaphorical looks refering different types of journeys. When speaking about love, people can mention to develop travel ( e.g. We have gotten off the path ) , auto travel ( e.g. We are at the hamlets ) and sea travel ( e.g. Our matrimony is on the stones ) ( Lakoff 1980:45 ) . Such a diverseness makes the verbal contemplation of our emotions richer and, as a consequence, the images created in head are more graphic.



Love is war metaphor


He is known for his many rapid conquerings

He is easy deriving land with her

He fought for him but his kept woman won out

He overpowered her

She is besieged by suers

He has to fend them off

He made an ally of her male parent

( Lakoff 1980:49 )

LOVE IS WAR metaphor is an illustration of a strutural metaphor, the metaphor which facilitates understanding an abstract construct of love utilizing the construct of war. Equally far as war is concerned, we consider the undermentioned issues: two contending sides, the consequence of the battle and the battle itself. In LOVE IS WAR metaphor, such constituents severally refer to the lovers, the consequence of the verbal conflict and the dissension between lovers.

SOURCE- WAR The above examples clearly stress the being of the battle between the lovers f.e. He overpowered her. However, the fact of cooperation, which is besides present during the war, is hidden. The lovers are shown as oppositions seeking to contend for their rights. Harmonizing to Lakoff ( 1980: 61-67 ) , our linguistic communication is an look of our ideas and feelings. Treating them as parts of our personality, we can presume that LOVE IS WAR metaphor shows one facet of our personality- willingness to contend for what we consider important to our wellbeing.


Love is charming metaphor


She cast her enchantment over me

She had me hypnotized

I was entranced by him

She is capturing

I was spellbound

( Lakoff 1980:49 )

From the morning of history people have been intrigued by thaumaturgy. On one manus they saw impossible things taking topographic point in forepart of their eyes, on the other manus their common sense forbade them to believe in such ”miracles ” . Although, it is non of import whether worlds belive in thaumaturgy or non, what is of import is the fact that people are non apathetic to it. Charming affects people and fascinates them deeply. Women particularly are said to hold the power to score work forces, hypnotise them or even, cast enchantments on them. As love is treated about as a charming and incomprehensible phenomenon, it is non hard to understand why LOVE is comprehended in footings of MAGIC. LOVE IS MAGIC metaphor decidedly emphasises the being of an about charming conncection that bonds lovers, while concealing the facet of the mortality of spouses and their inability to utilize thaumaturgy.



Love is madness metaphor


I ‘m brainsick about her

She drives me out of my head

He has gone mad over her

I ‘m merely wild about Harry

He invariably raves about her

( Lakoff 1980: 49 )

In LOVE IS MADNESS metaphor love is presented as a province of insanity. When one is in love, she/he experiences certain sorts of emotions which are, in fact, similar to mental provinces of lunacy. Merely strength differentiates these emotions from each other. Each clip we go through them, we have symptoms bespeaking a psychological unwellness.

Very frequently the object of love is treated as a cause of a peculiar feeling or unwellness ( e.g. She drives me out of my head ) . One in love is shown as an insane individual ( e.g I ‘m brainsick about her ) and a feeling of love as an unwellness itself.

LOVE IS MADNESS metaphor directs our attending at the profound consequence that love has on people, therefore worlds tend to compare it to the province of lunacy. However, the metaphor refuses to foreground the ability to make programs for the spouses ‘ hereafter and the facet of a fruitful cooperation which are besides present in a romantic relationship



Love is a patient metaphor

LOVE IS A Patient

This is a ill relationship

They are a strong, healthy matrimony

Their matrimony is dead, it can non be revived

We are acquiring back on our pess

Their matrimony is on its last legs

( Lakoff 1980: 49 )

We have already mentioned that lovers are treated as a integrity ( e.g. We are one ) . The being of a integrity between partners indicates the belief that they are really one individual. Due to the fact that a individual in love can endure from symptoms of an unwellness, we can presume that lovers are patients. The patients ‘ wellness province represents the province of the relationship or matrimony. Although the physical and mental status of the relationship is revealed, the possible ways of ”healing ” the matrimony are concealed. All of us have experienced an unwellness at least one time in our lifetime. However each unwellness, even the smallest one, is treated as something new. Equally far as love is concerned, each new relationship is worth taking attention of because as Hubert H. Humphrey said ” The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love ” . Love can do us experience ill, but it is besides able to mend our Black Marias and psyches.



Love is fire metaphor


I do n’t desire to acquire burned once more.

My bosom ‘s on fire.

That kindled love in his bosom.

She is his latest fire.

He was consumed by love.

( Lakoff 1980: 49 )

Worlds describe love as a one of the most graphic and powerful feelings we experience, that is why we use so many metaphors in order to depict the facets of this overpowering emotion. However, LOVE IS FIRE metaphor is the most significiant every bit far as the strength of love is concerned. As we have observed the strength of the emotion is highlighted, whereas the possibility of a regeneration after an unfortunate relationship is hidden ( people, things can non resuscitate after being absolutely damaged by fires ) . Thankss to this conceptual metaphor, people can link different stages of fire firing with different phases of being in love. Such a conceptualization explains that love, every bit good as fire, has its beginning, continuance and the terminal. The harm caused by the strength of fire can mention to the lover ‘s psychological harm because of the letdown in love.



Love is a physical force metaphor


He was magnetically drawn to her

His whole life revolves around her

The ambiance around them is ever charged

They gravitated to each other instantly

I could experience the electricity between us

( Lakoff 1980: 49 )

Intensity, being one of the most siginficant characteristics of love, enables us to utilize forces such as magnetic attraction, gravitation and electicity while speaking about this powerful emotion. LOVE IS A PHYSICAL FORCE metaphor decidedly highlights an disdainful facet of love over other emotions that people can experience. In this metaphor, worlds conceptualize love as a force majeure, something that they can non command or hold an influence on. If we assume that such a feeling as love can non be controlled, we have to acknowledge that besides lovers can non be restricted. The being of magnetic attraction between them signifies the necessity of populating together or disbursement as much clip as possible with each other whereas electricity between lovers presents the power of love that bonds them.





2.2.9 Love is a ecstasy metaphor

LOVE IS A Ecstasy

I ‘m dizzy with love

I ‘ve been high on love for hebdomads

She is intoxicated with love

He is intoxicated with love

( Lakoff 1980:49 )

The illustrations above present love as a province of an rapture caused by drugs or intoxicant. The being of such a metaphor proves that the behavior of people who are in love resembles the behavior of those being on a drug- induced high. Although lovers do non normally take any narcotic stimulations, they so show symptoms of an dependence. A changeless thought about the object of love, a hard to understand felicity when disbursement clip with each other or a finding to win the dear ‘s bosom are symptoms which may be misunderstood and the individual demoing them may be accused of utilizing illegal stimulations. However, in mundane state of affairss worlds realize that love has such an impact on those sing it that they really can move irresponsiby.




There are many different sorts of metaphors of love showing assorted facets of this overpowering feeling. I have chosen merely a few of them, the most absorbing and equivocal 1s. The analysis of the metaphors of love proved that this feeling is hard to grok because of its complexness. By tests and mistakes I have realized that it is impossible to show all the possible sides of this powerful emotion. Love affects people deeply and therefore it is really of import for them. That is why they try to grok this abstract experiencing utilizing more concrete constructs such as a journey, war or fire. Thankss to metaphors we create in our heads the breathtaking images of an unbelievable universe we live in.