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language, a metaphor is a rhetorical trope where a comparison is made between
two seemingly unrelated subjects. Typically, a first object is described as being
a second object. In this way, the first object can be economically described because
implicit and explicit attributes from the second object can be used to fill in
the description of the first. Some (particularly in cognitive linguistics) see
metaphor as a basic cognitive function, while others prefer the term analogy for
this concept. However, metaphor is not always used for practical description and
understanding; sometimes it is used for purely aesthetic reasons. Metaphors are
commonly confused with similes.
is present in written language back to the earliest surviving writings. From the
Epic of Gilgamesh:
My friend, the swift mule, fleet wild ass of the
mountain, panther of the wilderness, after we joined together and went up into
the mountain, fought the Bull of Heaven and killed it, and overwhelmed Humbaba,
who lived in the Cedar Forest, now what is this sleep that has seized you? - (Trans.
In this example, the friend is compared to a mule,
a wild ass, and a panther to indicate that the speaker sees traits from these
animals in his friend.
Even before this example, it is arguable that
the stylized cave paintings in the Chauvet-pont-d'arc caves in southern France
are a form of visual metaphor. Their highly stylized animal shapes evoke hierarchical
relationships and human connections that are not part of the literal depiction.
first writers to discuss metaphor were the Greek philosophers.
greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor. It is the one thing that
cannot be learned from others; it is also a sign of genius, since a good metaphor
implies an eye for resemblance. - Aristotle, De Poetica, 322 BCE. While this might
arguably be an exaggeration, there is evidence that fundamental aspects of human
intelligence, pattern recognition and inference drive the human use of metaphor.
metaphor, according to I.A. Richards in The Philosophy of Rhetoric (1936), consists
of two parts: the tenor which is the subject to which attributes are ascribed,
and the vehicle, which is the subject from which the attributes are derived.
the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players
their exits and their entrances; - William Shakespeare
As you like it 2/7)
This well known quote is a good example of a
metaphor. In this example, "the world" is compared to a stage, the aim
being to describe the world by taking well-known attributes from the stage. In
this case, the world is the tenor and the stage is the vehicle. "Men and
women" are a secondary tenor and "players" is the vehicle for this
The third line begins selecting the attributes to
ascribe from the vehicle onto the tenor. The selection of similar attributes is
called the ground. In the play, Jaques continues this metaphor for another twenty
lines beyond what is shown here - making it a good example of an extended metaphor.
An extended metaphor is one that sets up a principal
subject with several subsidiary subjects or comparisons. The above quote from
As you like it is a good example. The world is described as a stage and then men
and women are subsidiary subjects that are further described in the same context.
mixed metaphor is one that leaps, in the course of a figure, to a second identification
inconsistent with the first one. Example: "Clinton stepped up to the plate
and grabbed the bull by the horn". Here, the baseball and the activities
of a cowboy are implied. Other examples include: "That wet blanket is a loose
cannon"; "Strike while the iron is in the fire"; or (said by an
administrator whose government-department's budget was slashed) "Now we can
just kiss that program right down the drain".
A dead metaphor
is one in which the sense of a transferred image is not present. Example: "money",
so called because it was first minted at the temple of Juno Moneta. To most people
though, "money" does not evoke thoughts of the temple at Juno Moneta.
Dead metaphors, by definition, normally go unnoticed; people are typically unaware
of the origin of words. For instance, consideration is a metaphor meaning "take
the stars into account", mantel means "cloak or hood to catch smoke",
gorge means throat, and so forth for thousands more.
An active metaphor
is one which by contrast to a dead metaphor, is not part of daily language and
is noticeable as a metaphor. Example: "You are my sun."
absolute or paralogical metaphor (sometimes called an antimetaphor) is one in
which there is no discernible point of resemblance between the idea and the image.
Example: "The couch is the autobahn of the living room."
complex metaphor is one which mounts one identification on another. Example: "That
throws some light on the question." Throwing light is a metaphor ( there
is no actual light).
A compound or loose metaphor is one that catches
the mind with several points of similarity. Example: "He has the wild stag's
foot." This phrase suggests grace and speed as well as daring.
dormant metaphor is one in which its contact with the initial idea it denoted
has been lost. Example: "He was carried away by his passions." Here,
it is not known by what the man was carried away.
An implicit metaphor
is one in which the tenor is not specified but implied. Example: "Shut your
trap!" Here, the mouth of the listener is the unspecified tenor.
submerged metaphor is one in which the vehicle is implied, or indicated by one
aspect. Example: "my winged thought". Here, the audience must supply
the image of the bird.
A simple or tight metaphor is one in which
there is but one point of resemblance between the tenor and the vehicle. Example:
"Cool it". In this example, the vehicle, "cool", is a temperature
and nothing else, so the tenor, "it", can only be grounded to the tenor
by one attribute.
A root metaphor is the underlying personal attachments
that shape an individual's understanding of a situation. It is different to the
previous types of metaphor in that it is not an explicit device in language but
merely a part of comprehension. Religion is considered the most common root metaphor
since birth, marriage, death and other life experiences can convey a very different
meaning to different people based on their level or type of religious adherence.
An individual's political affiliations are another root metaphor that may affect
the message conveyed by such terms as conservatism and liberal. In the example:
"He is a very conservative politician", "conservatism" is
the vehicle, "he" is the tenor and the attributes conveyed are dependent
on the root metaphor: is it a good or a bad thing to be considered conservative?
simile is like a metaphor, in that both compare one object with another, but while
a metaphor is implicit, a simile makes the comparison explicit with a word such
as "like," "as," or "than." In this respect, a metaphor
is a more concrete assertion of identity, and may result in a confusion if taken
literally, whereas a simile is clearly just a comparison.
is the substitution of a closely related word for the intended subject. Unlike
a metaphor, a metonymy does not transfer qualities from one word to another; rather,
it uses an existing association to draw a link between words.
is an extended section of prose or verse which carries a meaning or message about
something other than its literal subject. This can be described as an implicit
Metaphor taken to its extreme may be called a hyperbole
(in cases where a metaphor is exaggerated) or catachresis (a metaphor
that borders on nonsense).
metaphor was a Greek word meaning "transfer". The Greek etymology is
from meta, implying "a change" and pherein meaning "to bear, or
carry". Thus, the word metaphor itself has a metaphorical meaning in English,
"a transfer of meaning from one thing to another".
in modern Greek the word metaphor is used to refer to a cart or trolley; thus
visitors to Greek airports will find themselves using metaphors to carry their
There are broad categories of figurative language which
are classified as metaphorical (see Literal and figurative language). The more
common meaning of metaphor is a figure of speech that is used to paint one concept
with the attributes normally associated with another.
Language defines our society and, although law would take credit for definging civilization, it cannot be denied that langugage defines law. Some of the greatest minds that I have known have written their rhetoric for judges, yet they are masters of spoken works. Many of those works are found in common courts - the barter between the master and the servant, the barrister and his defendant, or the complex tongues of legal thought that flow from the whims of justices.
All good defenses have just cause to be heard, rather in a judge's chanbers or a Justice's court, even the law. In defense of the law defining civilization, could one emphatically state that there is no law without language? Language, like law, comes in many forms and even in the unspoken language of the body, the rudimentary language of man's beginnings, and the language of hope (the bible). In defense of law defining society, one must certainly admint that the death penalty is a silent outcome of a law enforced upon a people, and prisons are filled with silent persons having no voice in government.
From the Blackstonian Era, or the period of toryism, whether rhetoric or Socratic dialectic methodologies, one cannot deny nor have the greatest awards missed the profound legal authors of the state of Wisconsin, Attorney Chris Van Wagner, Attorney Tracey Wood, Attorney Corey Chirafisi.
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