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  1. #1
    Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim is offline Senior Member
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    Default Grammatical Metaphor

    As you know metaphor is a very important feature in human language. There is no exaggeration when we say that language itself is a metaphor (compare George Lakoff: the metaphor we live by).

    The Macmillan Dictionary has realized this important feature and dedicated two full pages to this important issue by Dr Rosamund Moon: e.g.: He is hurt. He gave me a cold look. Hurt and cold here as you know are metaphors because they are based on comparison or analogy with injury and temperature.

    Simile is the same and differs from metaphor only in the use of words: “like, similar, the same as, resemble, look alike and so on”. Since prepositions refer to directions they show metaphor clearly. She has split up with her boyfriend. I wonder why our excellent dictionaries still lag behind on this matter.


    Human language is analogous and not digital as we discussed earlier. Analogue means like or the same as. This is part of human perception. We reflect or mirror what we see or perceive. Metaphor, as you know, is a figure of speech in which a name or a descriptive word or phrase is transferred to an object or action different from, but analogous to, its original referent.

    Finally, a metaphor is after all a picture. A picture goes deeper into memory and communicates ideas faster and more conveniently.

    Unfortunately some people mistakenly believe that the use of metaphor is restricted to special forms of language only, such as idioms, preposition, and verbs of movement. There are different types of metaphor:

    - Metaphor is common in ordinary language
    - literature is very popular for using metaphor

    - Now there is another kind of metaphor that is especially characteristic of written English "grammatical metaphor". Grammatical metaphors are created through the grammatical process of 'derivation or nominalization' by which a verb or an adjective is converted into a noun, often by adding an ending. Thus, Grammatical metaphors are a very prominent feature of written English due to nominalization (on account of information density). More meaning can be packed into nouns than into verbs. This is the reason why the words "verbal" and "verbose" are derived from the word "verb".In addition you can do more operations on nouns than on verbs: i.e. use them in the plural or with an adjective etc....

    Even though this usage of "metaphor" is different from the traditional (poetic) metaphor, both have to do with transference/transportation, which is what the word "metaphor" means in the Greek.

    Whereas the traditional metaphor transfers a dominant quality/characteristic of one thing to another thing, grammatical metaphor transfers noun-class status to another (non-noun) word.

    Complete books have recently been dedicated to grammatical metaphor since information density is becoming an issue and a problem due to the increase in human knowledge.

    Now compare:
    I conclude (verb: mental process type)
    I come to the conclusion (noun: location process type)

    A metaphor can only occur in analogue language.
    Metaphors on the one hand can be lexical or grammatical.
    On the other hand an expression can be metaphorical or congruent: without a metaphorical stratum. When an expression is metaphorical there is stratal tension (the potential for tension/humour or potential for insertion i.e. fuzziness):

    Question: Have you got the time, please?
    Answer(1): Yes (without telling the time).
    Answer (2): yes, it's half past five.

    The World of Metaphor
    - Metaphor and simile as explained above

    - Dead metaphor: Usually in common language and because of their frequent use its metaphorical character became invisible: feelings up and down

    - Grammatical metaphor is part of lexical morphology (e.g. nominalzation). there are two types of tendencies in English:
    A consistent movement towards metaphorization
    A counter-movement against metaphorization.
    Jamshid
    Last edited by Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim; 19-Jul-2005 at 21:13.

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Grammatical Metaphor

    Jamshid, welcome.

    How do you see these forces actually operating?
    A consistent movement towards metaphorization
    A counter-movement against metaphorization.

  3. #3
    Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Grammatical Metaphor

    Hi Tdol
    This can be explained very easily as a law of nature.Things come and go. This can be called the cycle of metaphorization and demetaphorization. Metaphors can be so deeply buried in language that we don't see them on the surface structure. In such cases they are dead metaphors.

    On the other hand metaphor in language is an indication of fuzziness or analogous character of language which shows ambiguity as in literature or verbal communication.
    Nowadays there is obviously a need for either a precise a(digital) language or an analogous langauge adapted to academic or scientific purposes.
    Regards
    Jamshid
    Last edited by Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim; 21-Jul-2005 at 08:55.

  4. #4
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Grammatical Metaphor

    Hi, I have always seen the two forces as essential- the drive towards change is essential for a language to adapt to new requirements, while the force trying to stop the change applies a brake to keep things together so that the language doesn't break up.

  5. #5
    Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Grammatical Metaphor

    Hi Tdol
    The idea of, as for example, "broken leg" can be expressed as follows:

    I have broken my leg. (who's the agent)
    My leg has been broken. (who's the agent)
    I broke my leg. (who's the agent)

    These sentences are fuzzy (I am not refering to past simple and present perfect differences) as in the case with metaphorical meaning. If I say I have broken my leg.
    Can the meaning be I took a sledgehammer and hit my leg. In addition, to the likely meaning that the agent isn't "me" but sth else. Is the agent inanimate because it might carry the idea of "unitentional". This is definitely not mathematical language.
    Regards
    Jamshid
    Last edited by Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim; 25-Jul-2005 at 10:37.

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