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A deflationary account of metaphor by Dan…
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A deflationary account of metaphor

by Dan Sperber and Deirdre Wilson

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This is the one where the indefatigable Sperber and Wilson make the novel and delightful (even a bit naughty!) observation that when we move to a view of language as rooted in meaning-communicating acts and implicature, rather than the "code" view where word x = meaning y, we find that metaphor is an entirely meaningless notion, and then go on to explore the implications in a relevance framework. For example: When I go "Are you sure Karl's on board with our new marketing strategy" and you go "Karl's a soldier," I evaluate your implicature for relevance and settle for something like "Karl's loyal to the team" and "Karl will follow the strategy decided on by higher-ups" without ever even considering meanings like "Karl is a member of the armed forces." (Cf. "What does Karl do for a living?" "Karl's a soldier.") Metaphor is a special (but not that special) case of hyperbole, there's no such thing as literal meaning but merely a spectrum in which implicatures reflect complex and multivalent modes of emphasis, sociophaticity, and play; and I don't know about you, but if you'll look at my review of Lakoff and Johnson's Metaphors We Live By in which I try and fail to set reasonable probablistic limits on what word-usages can and cannot be called metaphors, you'll understand why Sperber and Wilson's essay makes me feel happy and like things are right with the world. In The Handbook of Metaphor. ( )
2 vote MeditationesMartini | Feb 28, 2014 |
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