Understanding Figurative Language: From Metaphor to Idioms

Hardcover | November 15, 2000

bySam Glucksberg

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This book examines how people understand utterances that are intended figuratively. Traditionally, figurative language such as metaphors and idioms has been considered derivative from more complex than ostensibly straightforward literal language. Glucksberg argues that figurative languageinvolves the same kinds of linguistic and pragmatic operations that are used for ordinary, literal language. Glucksberg's research in this book is concerned with ordinary language: expressions that are used in daily life, including conversations about everyday matters, newspaper and magazinearticles, and the media. Metaphor is the major focus of the book. Idioms, however, are also treated comprehensively, as is the theory of conceptual metaphor in the context of how people understand both conventional and novel figurative expressions. A new theory of metaphor comprehension is putforward, and evaluated with respect to competing theories in linguistics and in psychology. The central tenet of the theory is that ordinary conversational metaphors are used to create new concepts and categories. This process is spontaneous and automatic. Metaphor is special only in the sense thatthese categories get their names from the best examples of the things they represent, and that these categories get their names from the best examples of those categories. Thus, the literal "shark" can be a metaphor for any vicious and predatory being, from unscrupulous salespeople to a murderouscharacter in The Threepenny Opera. Because the same term, e.g.,"shark," is used both for its literal referent and for the metaphorical category, as in "My lawyer is a shark," we call it the dual-reference theory. The theory is then extended to two other domains: idioms and conceptual metaphors. Thebook presents the first comprehensive account of how people use and understand metaphors in everyday life.

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From the Publisher

This book examines how people understand utterances that are intended figuratively. Traditionally, figurative language such as metaphors and idioms has been considered derivative from more complex than ostensibly straightforward literal language. Glucksberg argues that figurative languageinvolves the same kinds of linguistic and pragma...

Sam Glucksberg is at Princeton University.

other books by Sam Glucksberg

Format:HardcoverPublished:November 15, 2000Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195111095

ISBN - 13:9780195111095

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Table of Contents

Preface1. Metaphor, the Central Trope2. Beyond the Literal3. Beyond Similarity4. Property Attribution5. Idioms: from Metaphor to Idiom and Back6. Matthew S. McGlone: Concepts as MetaphorsReferencesIndex

Editorial Reviews

"A leader in the field of psycholinguistics, Glucksberg (psychology, Princeton Univ.) examines how people process and comprehend figurative language like metaphors and idioms....Suitable for graduate students and above, this book will interest cognitive scientists, psycholinguists,philosophers of language, and others working in the field of language."--CHOICE