521-Class 24

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Metaphors and propaganda

Readings: Lakoff & Johnson (1980); Lexicon Valley Podcast. (Transcript is available by following the link.) & Thibodeau and Boroditsky (2011)

Study Questions

Lakoff & Johnson (1980)

  • What makes something a metaphor? What is the difference, according to Lakoff and Johnson, between a metaphorical and a non-metaphorical concept?
  • What is an experiential gestalt and how do they contribute to making a metaphor?
  • What is an entailment? How does the metaphorical concept of “time is money” entail that “time is a limited resource”?
  • Why do some concepts have multiple metaphorical frames, e.g., love IS war (“he fled from her advances”; “he pursued her relentlessly”), but also love IS a patient (“this is a sick relationship”)?
  • Lakoff and Johnson mention that “Cognitive Science needs to be aware of its own metaphors”? What do they mean?

Lexicon valley podcast

  • How are our conceptual metaphors determined by our physical experience of the world? (See Lakoff & Johnson’s experiential gestalts).
  • What is a primal metaphor?

Thibodeau and Boroditsky (2011)

  • Do you think this paper makes a strong case for the impact of metaphors in everyday life? Do the results support Lakoff & Johnson’s theoretical framework? Why/why not?
  • Why were the authors interested in checking whether the participants were aware of the metaphorical framing of the crime story?
  • What was the purpose of the lexical prime manipulation and what does it mean that the primes had no effect on the participants’ responses?

Take home points

  • How metaphorical is everyday language?

Enormously! Metaphors pervade not just everyday language but science and technology.

  • What are metaphors?

Mapping from one domain to another

  • Where do metaphors come from?

Many are embodied (e.g. orientation metaphors) others come from more general experiences of the world (experiential gestalts)

  • Why do we use metaphors?

To transfer knowledge from a more familiar/concrete domain to a less familiar domain

  • The importance of metaphorical entailments:

Orwellian language and political metaphors

We should be cognizant of the framing that politicians and journalists use (e.g. tax relief). These are not mere ways of talking about something. These metaphors are not neutral. They structure our knowledge.