Metaphor – an explanation

Tracy Cross explains: “Metaphors influence our perceptions and thinking, from fairly inconsequential concepts, to some of the most basic matters. A root metaphor is one that is foundational to other beliefs and conceptions. These root metaphors become a primary mechanism we employ to understand our world. We see evidence in the metaphors we use of our underlying beliefs, and evidence in our behavior of the metaphors underpinning our beliefs. Metaphors not only represent our understanding, they also act to shape our understanding.” (p.14)

“According to Lakoff and Johnson (1980), metaphors are foundational to our understanding of our world because they ‘structure how we perceive, how we think, and what we do’ (p.4). Rather than merely being linguistic creations as originally thought, metaphors actually represent the inner workings of the mind.” (p.14)

A good example of such a metaphor is “‘Time is money’, [which] suggests that time has features of value, is a commodity, and can be used up. How we perceive and experience time becomes affected by the characteristics of money. Our society has representative sayings that support this claim. Wasting time, spending time, and borrowed time are examples that Lakoff and Johnson (1980) have written about.” (p.14)

NB a more involved explanation can be found in Lakoff and Johnsons Metaphors We Live By (1980), or in Lakoff’s ‘The Contemporary Theory of Metaphor

Ref: Tracy L Cross (2007) The changing life metaphor of gifted youth. Gifted Child Today 30(1)Winter, pp.14-16, 65

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About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
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