Conceptual metaphor

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A conceptual metaphor or cognitive metaphor is a metaphor which refers to one domain (group of ideas) in terms of another. For example, treating quantity in terms of direction:

  1. Prices are rising.
  2. I attacked every weak point in his argument. (Argument as war rather than enquiry or search for truth).
  3. Life is a journey.
  4. Love talked about as if it were war or competition.
  5. Time talked about as if it were a path through space, or a quantity that can be saved or spent or wasted.

The idea of a conceptual metaphor came from a book by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson in 1980: Metaphors we live by.

"The most recent linguistic approach to literature is that of cognitive metaphor, which claims that metaphor is not a mode of language, but a mode of thought". Donald Freeman.

Political metaphors[change | change source]

  • eminence grise: literally, "grey man," from French. Colloquially, the power-behind-the-throne. An official close to the president or monarch who has so much power behind the scenes that he or she may double or serve as the monarch.
  • figurehead: a leader whose powers are entirely symbolic, such as a constitutional monarch.
  • puppet government: a government that is manipulated by a foreign power for its own interests.
  • star chamber: a secretive council or other group within a government that possesses the actual power, regardless of the government's overt form.
  • character assassination: spreading (usually) manufactured stories about a candidate with the intent to destroy his or her reputation in the eyes of the public.
  • landslide victory: a huge victory for one side.
  • riding coattails: victories by local or state politicians because of the popularity of more powerful politicians.
  • grassroots: a political movement driven by the constituents of a community.
  • astroturfing: formal public relations campaigns in politics and advertising that seek to create the impression of being spontaneous, grassroots behavior.
  • straw man: the practice of refuting an argument that is weaker than one's opponent actually offers, or which he simply has not put forth at all. A type of logical fallacy.
  • Spin (public relations): a heavily biased portrayal of an event or situation.
  • witch-hunt: a hysterical pursuit of political enemies
  • bread and circuses: satisfaction of shallow or immediate desires of the populace at the expense of good policy; also, the erosion of civic duty and the public life in a populace.

There are many more, enough to prove the importance of the metaphor in our lives.