Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 3

The nature of metaphor, metaphors comprehension and the functions of metaphorical

expressions are identified as three distinct issues for metaphor research. Metaphors can have
a variety of functions and typologies. As Gibs mentioned in his work Metaphor and
thought, a metaphorical expression is not simply an ornamental aspect of language, but a
fundamental scheme by which people conceptualize the world and their own activities.
According to Lakoffs book Metaphors We live by (1980) conceptual metaphors can
be classified into three types: structural, ontological and ontological
Structural metaphors
The group of structural metaphors is consider to be the biggest one. A structural
metaphor is a conceptual metaphor that is translated from one conceptual domain into another
one. It has usually the following structure : A is B , where the first domain A is perceived in
terms of another (Lakoff and Johnson, 1980:14). Here, the source domain generally supply
the target domain with a relatively reach knowledge. Comprehending the both conceptual
domains meakes the metaphorical expression more clear. For example,the word war- a
concret concept often used in the figurative language that belongs to the field of structural
metaphors is mapped into the target domain as ARGUMENT or LOVE. The conceptual
metaphor ARGUMENT IS WAR is reflected in everyday language by means of a variety of
expressions like :
I attacked my opponent with words.
He defended his argument very well
With the help of structural metaphors, the more complex and abstract notions that
belong to everyday experiences of life, are explained in simple and concrete terms.
For instance, the concept of TIME is defined in terms like MONEY, LIFE is
understood as A JOURNEY, THEORIES are consider to be BUILDINGS, etc.
Therefore, the most common conceptual metaphors which are structural and widely
used in everyday spoken language are: TIME IS MKONEY, STATES ARE
CONTAINERS(e. g He is in love or She fell into a depression), THEORIES ARE
BUILDINGS, LIFE IS A JOURNEY, ANGER IS THUNDER.
In few words, as a final conclusion, a metaphor is a cross domain mapping in the
conceptual system (Lakoff).
Orientational Metaphors
In contrast with the first type of conceptual metaphors- the structural metaphors, orientational
metaphors do not structure only one concept in terms of another, they organize a whole
system of concepts with respect to one another. (Lakoff and Johnson, 1980:14). Their name
derives from the fact that this type of conceptual metaphors are are related to the most
common human spatial orientations : up-down, front-back, in-out. The UP-DOWN
orientational metaphor can apply to situations that contain both physical and cultural
elements, such as : She came down with pneumonia , or He is at the peak of health.
Here, good health is associated with the spatial orientation up because of the conventional
metaphoric expression : Better is up and perhaps due to the belief according to which we
stand on our feet when we are feeling well and we tend to lie down when we are sick or we
are not feeling very well. . Concepts like happy, healthy, control, virtue, rational
usually are associates with upward orientation, and their opposites receive downward
orientation , like in the following examples: CONSCIOUS IS UP; UNCONSCIOUs IS
DOWN : Wake up! He sank into a coma.

Ontological metaphors
The aim of the ontological metaphors is to explain abstract entities like ideas , emotions,
states of body or mind, in terms of substances, objects or containers. Just like every day
experiences of human spatial orientations represents an essential basis for understanding
abstract notions in orientation terms, in the same way our experiences with physical objects
allow people to emphasize emotions, ideas, events as entities and substances. Lakoff and
Johnson stated in their book Metaphors We Live By : Each of us is a container, with a
bounding surface and in-out orientation. We project our own in-out orientation into other
physical objects that are bounded by surfaces. Thus, non-physical objects (e.g . events,
actions, activities, states) can be understood by transforming them into physical objects
with definite boundaries. Examples: 1. The problem will be dealt with in the next discussion.
2. I can see his feelings in his writings
3. Ann could not get out of laught.
In addition, states and emotions are containers , too:
1. She fell in love.
2. They will be out of the trouble soon.
3. She entered the bureau in fear.