Part 1
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7th International Cognitive Linguistics Conference - July 22-27, 2001
University of California, Santa Barbara

A phenomenological and empirical-constructivist approach to metaphors – or how to pull oneself up by one’s own bootstraps

Part 1 by Carlo Grevy

 Helle Dam: she shall be talking about the empirical evidence for this study.

Carlo Grevy: I shall give an introduction of the purpose with this study and give some exemplifications.

 We are interested in:

 How do metaphors function in specialized language?

 We always talk about special topics - and we use language that is characteristic to such areas.

We shall study metaphors on an empirical basis (empirical constructivism).


Conclusion on this study: metaphors work in an integrated network and we cannot say that any source domains are more basic than others. Our study indicates that metaphors function as circular references.

One of the problems we shall focus on: are some source domains more basic than others?

At the Discovery Channel: Earthquake - like a volcano!

Our study: about 500 metaphors in 10 periodicals in these areas:



- computers

- science


- economy


Old experience (in our culture)

- hunting

- fishing/angling

- animals


Everyday experiences

- transportation/cars

- sports

Some examples




People                                Cars

(People are cars)                (Cars are animals)



(Animals are people)


(Circular reference)





 Cars                                                    Animals

(Cars are animals)                (Animals are cars)


People                                                 Animals

(People are animals)                (Animals are people)


People                                                 Cars

(People are cars)                               (Cars are people)



(Circular reference)


When we talk about a topic we talk about something else


When we talk about cars we talk about animals

When we talk about people we talk about animals

When we talk about people we talk about cars



There is no course for thinking that any of the areas (specialized languages) are more basis than others.

There is no course for thinking that the body should be basic for metaphors in general.

There is no course for thinking that use concrete object as source domains in metaphors should give us a better understanding of the subject.