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A Report on Metaphor, Its Definition, Types, Theories, and Uses

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The word ‘metaphor’ is originally a Greek work. This word could be literally translated as ‘transport’, where we can transport some features of one thing to another thing.

Metaphor has firstly gained attention by the well-known philosopher Aristotle. In the 4th century in his work known as ‘Poetry’, Aristotle has defined metaphor as: giving thing a name belongs to another thing.

I.A Richard in his work which known as ‘The Philosophy of Rhetoric’ has defined metaphor as a comparison between two things. I.A Richard assumed that metaphor has two terms: tenor and vehicle, and the relationship between these between them called ground. Tenor is the subject to which attribute described. Vehicle is the object which whose attribute borrowed.

Furthermore, Lakoff and Johnson (1980) in their well-known work ‘Metaphors We Live By’ have defined metaphor as: ‘understanding and experiencing one kind of thing in terms of another.’

Lakoff and Johnson in (1980) by published their book ‘ Metaphors We Live By’ they had set the first base of the turning shift of metaphor from a figurative tool used only and specially in poetry by poets and in vehicle to be an everyday phenomena use to communicate and interact between people.

Aside from their distinctive view of metaphor, Lakoff and Johnson (1980) have divided metaphor into three types: structural metaphor, Orientational metaphor and ontological metaphor.

Structural Metaphor

Structural metaphor is the most known type of metaphor which used in everyday communication. It is ‘understanding and experiencing one kind of thing in term of another.’ An example of this metaphor is (time is money) where we can realize that time is understanding as money which is important and valuable in everyday life.

Orientational Metaphor

Lakoff and Johnson describe this kind of metaphor as organize concepts with respect to another. These metaphors mostly spatial Orientational concepts as (up – down, in – out …) as in say that (happy is Upright)

Ontological Metaphor

This type of metaphor is deal with physical objects, where someone and based on going through an experience given something a physical identity as in (hold on your dreams).

Moreover, Lakoff and Johnson (1980) had set a theory which still a dominant theory in our present days. This theory known as Conceptual Metaphor Theory. According to this theory metaphor is a cognitive instrument uses in everyday conversations by native community to describe life.

By sitting this theory, Johnson and Lakoff made a great revaluation in metaphor and understanding metaphor. They set the first step in the cognation view of the metaphor.

Interaction Theory of Metaphor

Interaction theory was the base of the transition from the traditional view of metaphor to the cognition view. I. Richard in 1930s has the first step into this transition by introducing his theory which known as ‘Interaction Theory’. According to this theory, metaphors is the interaction between two different things supported by word or phrase. In addition, according to I. Richard metaphors have two terms: tenor and vehicle and the relationship between them called ground. Tenor is the subject to which the attribute is describe. And vehicle is the object whose attribute are borrowed. For I. Richard There are two types of metaphors: sense- metaphors and emotive- metaphors. In the sense- metaphors, the transition is because of the similarity between the original object and the new one. In the other hand, in the emotive- metaphors the transition accrued because of the similarities to the feelings of the new situation and the normal situation.

Later on Black Max (1979) has developed this theory. According to him, we don’t need to know the similarities between the two things (tenor) and (vehicle) to understand the meaning and the similarities could be created through the interaction between the two terms.

Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT)

Conceptual metaphor theory is a theory presented by Lakoff and Johnson in their book “Metaphors We Live By” which published in (1980). This theory assumed that: metaphor is a cognitive instrument which used to express and describe the everyday actions.

In addition, Lakoff and Johnson claimed that metaphor is locus in mind and though as it is locus in language. According to Lakoff and Johnson:

“…metaphor is typically viewed as characteristic of language alone, a matter of words rather than thought or action… we have found that on the contrary, that metaphor is pervasive in everyday life, not just in language but in thought and action…” (1980).

During their working on this theory, Lakoff and Johnson observed that people are tend to use realistic concept to describe anabstract idea. English speakers commonly use journal to describe life as in (life is describe an abstract concept (life).

Previous Research

Somme. R and Barbas A. Sommer (2011): “Zoomorphy: Animal Metaphors For Human Personality”. In this study speakers use animal names as metaphors to describe person’s personality and behaviors. This study was mainly concerned on both metaphors (X is a tiger; Y is a fox ) and presented similarities in ( X eats like horse ; Y is strong as an ox).

This study introduced 36 mammals’ names to the participants of the study who were students. By using 70% of the criterion, 5 species of these mammals names are positively use to describe persons such as lions, tiger, etc. There are 11 species that were used negatively to describe people such as pig, rat, donkey, etc.

This study used the color-based metaphor to explore the metaphorically uses of some common colors as (black, white, yellow, red, green and blue).this study has divide colors into three types (euphemistic, dysphemistic and orthophemistic). This study has concerned on how Jordanian speakers use colors terms as metaphors, but it also mentioned some other uses of these colors in general. This study used observations and interviews as instruments to collect data. As results, this study found that:

Black color in Arabic could be used euphemistically, dysphmistically or orthophemistically. As dysphemistically it could mean mischievous, and for evil issues. Jordanian speakers said (aswad Al-galb) instead of (black hearted). This metaphor commonly uses to describe a person who has a heart full up with hate or jealous.

White color use to mean purity, harmless and evil- free issues. Jordanian speakers say (abyad ulgalb) which means (white hearted). These metaphors use to describe a person who is honest and good natured.

Yellow and Red colors are associated with negative connotations. Yellow is more associated to illness. Red color is associated with dangers and hardship.

Green color is the most color associated with peaceful, restful. This color is also associated with concept of growth, harmony, health and safety.

Blue color is associated with highly positive value, with calmness and with cleanliness’. It is also could be associated with concept of health and healing.

Alsadi, Hanna (2017): “English and Arabic Metaphorical Conceptualization of Food: A contrastive Study” this study compared the use of food concepts as metaphors between Arabic and English speakers. This study has adopted the corpus- based approach. As results, this study found that English and Arabic shared the same food concepts as metaphors. But these conceptualizations are not conventionalized in the two languages because of the differences between the English and Arabic cultures. This study has presented these examples as they are mainly similar between the both languages.

Learning is Eating

In the English context we can find that (he has a hanger for learning). Where we can find the sense of desire and need of learning, which describe as the hunger, where a person has a desire to eat in order to satisfy his hunger.

In the Arabic context we can find that (he is a veracious reader). Where we can understand that the learning process is clearly compared metaphorically to eat where learning and eating share the properties of need and desire.

Understanding is Digesting

In English context this metaphor can be find (take a moment to digest the information). In this example the process of understanding metaphorically descried as a digest process.

In Arabic context we can find (I digested this idea well) where we can clearly find that the process of understanding is also describe as the process of digesting food.

The Use of Metaphorical Expressions in Everyday Language

Metaphorical expressions are playing important role in everyday conversations and interactions. Moreover, speakers tend to use metaphors in their speech for different reasons. Research which concern on reasons of using metaphors have found many reasons speakers use metaphors for. Denise Rock (2001) in his work titled as’ Understanding Metaphors in Everyday Language’ mentioned three reasons for which speakers use metaphors in their everyday language. Firstly, speakers use metaphors to explain expressions which are not easily explain with literal language. Secondly, metaphors use to express ideas in more detailed and compact ways. Finally, by using metaphors expressions are become more vivid and clear.

Traditionally metaphors were considered as poetic and rhetoric devices. Lakoff and Johnson (1980) have changed this prescriptive by publishing their book. They consider metaphors as an everyday instrument that describes thoughts and actions.

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A Report on Metaphor, Its Definition, Types, Theories, and Uses. (2020, September 01). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 13, 2021, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-report-on-metaphor-its-definition-types-theories-and-uses/
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A Report on Metaphor, Its Definition, Types, Theories, and Uses. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-report-on-metaphor-its-definition-types-theories-and-uses/> [Accessed 13 May 2021].
A Report on Metaphor, Its Definition, Types, Theories, and Uses [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2020 Sept 01 [cited 2021 May 13]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-report-on-metaphor-its-definition-types-theories-and-uses/
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