Metaphor: Introduction

Metaphor is often thought of as something that is confined to literary texts, but as we shall see, this really isn't the case.

Everyday language is full of metaphor, and it is actually quite difficult to use language without it!

Let's look at an example - the metaphor of LIFE IS A JOURNEY. (In linguistics, the standard way to show metaphor is by using capital letters). In this metaphor, the abstract concept of 'life' is understood as a concrete, physical 'journey'.

This generates sentences such as:

Of course, there is no physical movement being described in each of these. There are no 'middle-aged crossroads' to stop at, and plans do not physically 'move forwards'. Metaphors such as these are useful in language as they provide a way of talking about something abstract and intangible (e.g. 'life') as something concrete and tangible (e.g. 'a journey').

Examples

Here are some examples of different metaphors:

TIME IS MONEY

GOOD IS UP / DOWN IS BAD

More examples

LIFE IS A CONTAINER

POLITICS IS WAR

Could you think of any other examples for these categories of metaphors?

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