The semantics of metaphor

LoLa Introductoryweek 1 each day

Joost Zwarts (Utrecht University)


Abstract: Metaphor is a pervasive factor in natural language, underlying the conscious creation of verbal images (e.g., brexit as a divorce), but also the flexibility of our most basic vocabulary (like prepositions). The nature of metaphors (as mappings between conceptual domains) has been the constant concern of cognitive linguistics and psychologist since the eighties and there is a booming interest in detecting them in texts using computational techniques. Interestingly, there is hardly any formal semantic work on metaphors (e.g. their compositionality), which obviously hampers a full understanding of how metaphor works. This course provides a broad introduction to the study of metaphors: how they are defined, analyzed as mappings, identified in corpora, represented in databases, formalized in semantic and pragmatic theories. This will enable students to find their way in this large area and to contribute, from their own area of expertise, to the development of a full-fledged semantics of metaphor.