LSA 205: Experimental and corpus-based approaches to metaphor

Benjamin Bergen | session 2 | MW 10:30 – 12:15, 2060 Valley Life Sciences Building (VLSB)

When we say that prices are falling or that the future is still ahead of us, we're speaking metaphorically; it's clear that prices can't literally fall, and the future isn't literally in a physical location. So how do language users understand metaphorical expressions like these? The leading approach to metaphorical language, Conceptual Metaphor Theory, predicts that people think about abstract things such as prices and the future in terms of concrete things like height and space, and that — as a result — they also talk about abstract things using language associated with concrete things. This course is an introduction to the empirical study of metaphorical language and thought. After reviewing the various theoretical positions on metaphor, we will examine the current experimental and corpus-based evidence on whether and how people talk and think about abstract concepts in terms of concrete ones.

Reading: Selected materials available online.

Areas of linguistics: Language and thought

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