Part 2
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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 2 by Helle Dam


  1. Pensioneret jagthund (”retired sporting dog”)
  2. Stormen medfører et tagselvbord til vildtet (”the storm brings a buffet for the game”)
  3. Jægernes Ferrari [om en hund] (”the hunter’s Ferrari”) [”about a dog”]



  1. I de gode gamle dage var vi sild hverdagskost (”in the good old days, we herrings were part of the everyday food”)
  2. Drilske sommerørreder (“teasing Summer trouts”)
  3. Super kompakt småbåd til “storvildt” (”a super compact small boat for “the big game””)


  1. En håndsrækning til krabberne (”a helping hand for the crabs”)
  2. Farvel til frøerne (”goodbye to the frogs”)
  3.  Islandshesten er speciel, den har nemlig 1-2 gear mere end de fleste andre heste (”the Iceland pony is speciel. You see, it has 1-2 gears more than most other horses”)


  1. Presser du den store kat i svinget, styrer den præcist (”if you push the big cat in the curve, it will steer accurately”)
  2. de buldrende V8-muskler fra de kraftfulde motorer? (”the rumbling V8 muscles from the powerful engines”)
  3. Godt nok hed Nissan Datsun dengang, men generne var ikke til at tage fejl af (”it is quite correct that Nissan was called Datsun at that time, but there was no mistaking of the genes”)


  1. Danmark gearerede en anelse ned efter pausen (”Denmark geared down after the break”)
  2. Reservedele til alle idrætsfolk (”spare parts for all athletes”)
  3. Fire børns oplevelse af eliteidræt:….burfugle (”four children’s the experience with sports at a high level:….. cage birds”)


  1. Lotus barsler med SmartSuite 97 (”Lotus is giving birth to SmartSuite 97”)
  2. De stationære computere vil stadig regere tiåret ud (”The stationary computer will  rule the rest of the decade”)
  3. Nogle Dos-applikationer opfører sig ordentligt (”some Dos-applications behave themselves”)


  1. Germany´s protective wings
  2. East Asia in crisis [picture of a tiger]
  3. (See ad)


  1. Den utrættelige strøm (”the untiring current”)
  2. Jo, man bliver nødt til at forstyrre elektronerne (”yes, but you have to disturb the electrons”)
  3. Denne nye partikel fik et spark af den første (”this particle got a kick from the first”)

Our study on metaphors comprises eight areas which we have grouped into the three main areas already mentioned. They are grouped in the following way:


  1. Old experience




  1. Every day experience



  1. Technology




I shall start out with commenting on the area of old experience. Our findings show that when we communicate about hunting, we tend to use the areas of ‘people’ and ‘cars’ as source domains. In the first example, we attribute the human property of being retired to a hunting dog, in the second example, game is provided with a buffet –people, not animals are provided with buffets. And in the third example, a dog is called a Ferrari.

Next, within the area of fishing, we have found that we use ‘hunting’ and ‘animals’ as source domains. In the first and second examples, fish are assigned the human property of talking. In the third example, fish are referred to as game.

In the area of animals, the majority of data uses ‘people’ and ‘cars’ as source domains. In the first example, crabs and frogs are treated as humans, whereas in the third example, ponies are said to have gears, like cars.

Within the second main area, I shall comment on cars first. We have found that we use ‘animals’ and ‘people’ as source domains in the area of cars. In the first example, a car is talked about as a cat. In the second example, valves are referred to as muscles, and in the third example, a Nissan is said to have genes.

The next area is sport. The data shows that we use quite a variety of other areas as source domains. However, a lot of examples use ‘cars’ as source domain. In example 1, a Danish team is assigned the property of having gear, in the second example, athletes are talked about as if they had spare parts, and in the third example elite athletes are compared with ?.

The last main area is technology. In the area of computers, we have found a tendency to use ‘people’ as source domain. In the first example, a Lotus is giving birth, in the second example, computers rule, and in the third example, Dos-applications are said to behave themselves –all human properties.

In the area of economics, ‘cars’ and ‘animals’ are used as source domains. In the first example, the East Asia is compared with a tiger. In the second example, Germany is assigned the property of having wings. The third example is an advertisement from a bank offering a loan. They compare themselves with a motorway, expressing both by a picture of a motorway and by way of the expression”express loan” that they will be able to provide a loan with ‘express speed’.

The last area is science. The tendency here is to use people as source domain. In the first example, current is untiring, in the second example, someone has to disturb electrons, and in the third example, a particle is getting kicked. These are all human properties.

The results of our study are schematised as follows in a sort of network illustrating the interconnections between the different areas. The conclusion of our study is that the source domains we use for making such connections are in fact related. This study only comprises a few areas, but we predict from this study that more interconnected areas will show up.

It seems that the area of ‘people’ is used frequently as a source domain. This, however, does not provide evidence for considering it to be a basic area. Rather, we shall say that it forms an area rich in complexity which makes it apt for forming a source domain for other areas of great complexity.