Dead Metaphor: Three Plays


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Notable among them is that of calling our attention to the "old" metaphors we live by, either to question them, or to praise them, or to elaborate them, or to subvert and replace them cf. This is of course only one among other possible repercussions associable to such unusual metaphors.

What I hope to have made clear, in any case, is that intercrossing language games may be taken as more or less entrenched in our practices, with different possible effects and different possible degrees of visibility. At this point, we arrive at a plausible characterization of novel metaphor under a Wittgensteinian viewpoint: novel metaphor may be associated with the possibility of unusual or unexpected intercrossing language games.

Now, it is crucial to the understanding of this preliminary characterization that we pay due attention to some of the key aspects of Wittgenstein's picture of language and meaning that were highlighted here before.

Novel metaphor and conceptual stability

For if these points go unnoticed, this perspective may be mistaken for a mere notational variant of other approaches of metaphor, notably the cognitive approach mentioned above. More specifically, it is vital that we acknowledge the particular way Wittgenstein sees the relationship between what is "usual" and what is "unusual" in our "complicated" form of life.

Language is, in the words of S. But how do we know for sure what is tolerable and what is not? The answer is: we don't. So, when we say that novel metaphor relates to unusual or unexpected intercrossing language games, we have to qualify this statement by adding that there are no absolute parameters available for us to determine what is usual and what is unusual. We have to bear in mind, hence, that, in an important sense, there is a fundamental unity between the most conventional and the least conventional metaphors.

Perloff, There is no such thing, thus, as a metaphor that is independent or autonomous with respect to the established conceptual systems that may be said to live in our language-embedded human practices. Enjoying a non-superlative stability and transparency, these systems always include the possibility of the extraordinary within the ordinary. Moreover, given that metaphors are viewed as practices, and that there are no absolute standards to determine whether these practices are expected or unexpected, so, thus understood, metaphors cannot have their degree of novelty evaluated as an absolute inherent property , corresponding to some fixed status of autonomy or dependence in relation to established conceptual systems.

This means that metaphors cannot be taken as trans-subjective conceptual entities with an absolute, determinate meaning. The Wittgensteinian alternative view helps us to make sense of some more or less trivial facts that do not quite fit in a picture of metaphors as conceptual entities with inherent absolute properties, ultimately derived from a universal set of basic concepts: it explains, for example, why what is taken to be metaphoric in one culture or moment of history may not be taken so in another; why what is experienced as a novel metaphor by one speaker may not be so experienced by another; why metaphors, even very conventional ones, seem to receive so many different and varied interpretations.

This approach avoids, in short, an overly simplifying and overly reifying treatment of the knowledge with which speakers go about in their language games. But how exactly does the view of metaphor as the practice of intercrossing language games allow us to respect the heterogeneous character of metaphorical meaning and meaning in general? Well, the practice of intercrossing language games can only be carried out if the language games involved are indeed recognizable as different language games in a given community, in a given situation.

So, to give just one example, borrowed from E. Kittay ; pace Turner, The same line of reasoning applies mutatis mutandis to the recognition of novel metaphors as opposed to old ones. To acknowledge the contingent nature of the oppositions between the metaphorical and the literal, and between novel and old metaphor, is not, however, to say that these oppositions are illusory or have no point. We do, after all, seem to draw these distinctions, in at least many cultures throughout the world.

So there is obviously a point in them, even if they do not amount to the kind of "superlative" distinction that, as we have seen, is absent from human conceptual systems. Hence, nothing prevents us from describing these intercrossing language games, and from calling some of them conventional or old metaphors and others novel or unusual metaphors, provided that we do not think of these attributes superlatively.

If we conceive of these descriptions as objects of comparison in the Wittgensteinian sense outlined above, they can indeed be very illuminating. The characterization of novel metaphors as unusual or unexpected intercrossing language games must be understood, thus, against the background of all the aspects of Wittgenstein's perspective that were highlighted above. I would like to remark, finally, that this characterization accommodates yet another valuable insight, namely the classical idea that metaphors that strike us as unusual or alien to our established conceptual systems may yield some sort of special cognitive gain Cf.

Black , Ricouer ; Levin Intercrossing language games that are taken as unusual or novel may indeed be associated with a special repercussion that was once very aptly described by S. In the preliminary exploration that was carried out in this paper, I hope to have demonstrated that the adoption of a Wittgensteinian perspective on language and meaning opens the possibility of reconciling valuable insights offered in three seemingly excluding approaches to the issue of novel metaphor and conceptual stability.

Being a non-foundational approach that defends a non-superlative view of the stability and transparency of human conceptual systems, it does justice to the deconstructionist qualms about the reliability of any absolute line dividing metaphorical and literal or old and novel in metaphor. Without falling prey of anti-theoretical nihilism, however, it also does justice to the wealth of generalizations and empirical findings on metaphor offered in the cognitive tradition, by taking them to be potentially instructive objects of comparison in the description of patterns and alternatives in our cultural heritage.

Without, however, endorsing the relative disregard for the heterogeneous nature of human meaning that seems to characterize cognitive foundational approaches, the Wittgensteinian viewpoint discussed here favors also the classical idea that the meaning of metaphors is ultimately irreducible, that it is dangerous, as M.

Black warned us, to postulate standard a priori responses to any given metaphor. Indeed, the view outlined here radicalizes this position, meant originally to apply only to metaphors that are taken to be novel, by extending it to conventional metaphors as well. Finally, the approach discussed here also accommodates the classical idea that metaphors that strike us as unusual or alien may be associated with possibility of a special kind of cognitive gain. The full implications of adopting this viewpoint are of course far from covered in this study, which, as said before, explores the topic on a preliminary basis.

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Among the many important issues that were left untouched here, two should be explicitly acknowledged. Firstly, nothing was said about the psychological import of the Wittgensteinian approach. With respect to this, I would like to remark only that, being clearly a non-psychological approach, it is by no means an anti-psychological one cf.

Secondly, nothing was done here to deal with the "weed" of epistemic relativism, which surely insinuates itself with the talk of "an order in our knowledge; not the order".

Dead Metaphor

As I shall not be able to show in detail here, the Wittgensteinian position may indeed favor a special version of conceptual relativism, but this does not go hand in hand with an epistemic relativism of the "anything goes" type cf. Glock, ; ; Language, Sense, and Nonsense Oxford: Blackwell. The Claim of Reason. York: Oxfor University Press. The Cavell Reader. Cambridge MA: Blackwell.

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The Future of Literary Theory. York: Routledge. The Poetics of Mind. York: Cambridge University Press.

I. What is a Metaphor?

A Wittgenstein Dictionary. Metaphor , Oxford: Clarendon Press. Philosophy in the Flesh. New York: Basic Books. Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Metaphoric Worlds. New Haven: Yale University Press. Sobre verdade e mentira no sentido extra-moral. Rubens Rodrigues T. Ed Metaphor and Thought. Cambridge: CUP.. Wittgenstein's Ladder. Toronto: Univesrsity of Toronto Press.

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Objectivism, Relativism and Truth. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. In poetry a metaphor may perform varied functions, from noting simple similarity between things to evoking a broad set of associations; it may exist as a minor element, or it may be the central concept and controlling image of the poem.

The metaphor of an iron horse for a train, for example, is the elaborate central concept of one of Emily Dickinson's poems—though neither iron horse nor train appears in the poem, the first and final stanzas of which are:. A mixed metaphor is the linking of two or more elements that don't go together logically. It happens when the writer or speaker isn't being sensitive to the literal meaning of the words or to the falseness of the comparison being used. A mixed metaphor is often two metaphors sloppily mashed together as in, "the ball is in the court of public opinion," which joins "the ball is in your court" to "the court of public opinion.

For strictly correct completion of the metaphor, sea should be replaced by a word like host. By using "sea of troubles," however, Shakespeare evokes the overwhelming nature of Hamlet's troubles.

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Many people have trouble distinguishing between simile and metaphor. A glance at their Latin and Greek roots offers a simple way of telling these two closely-related figures of speech apart. These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'metaphor. Send us feedback. See more words from the same century. More Definitions for metaphor. See the full definition for metaphor in the English Language Learners Dictionary. Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with metaphor.

Spanish Central: Translation of metaphor. Nglish: Translation of metaphor for Spanish Speakers. Britannica English: Translation of metaphor for Arabic Speakers. What made you want to look up metaphor? Please tell us where you read or heard it including the quote, if possible. Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way. Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free! It's now in the dictionary.


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Dead Metaphor: Three Plays Dead Metaphor: Three Plays
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