Staffan Carlshamre Unit 10 Semantics
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Staffan Carlshamre Unit 10 Semantics

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For Unit 10 the Uned Guide is quite accurate, nonetheless I include this paper written by Stafan Carlshamre which explains the basic concepts very well.

For Unit 10 the Uned Guide is quite accurate, nonetheless I include this paper written by Stafan Carlshamre which explains the basic concepts very well.

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Staffan Carlshamre Unit 10 Semantics Staffan Carlshamre Unit 10 Semantics Document Transcript

  • Staffan Carlshamre Metaphors in Text Semantics Problems and Prospects STTS Report No. 88-4 1. The concept of metaphor The contemporary literature on metaphor in philosophy, psychology, linguistics, theory of literature, etc. is immense, and growing fast. There seems to be no consensus on any fundamental issues in the field. People disagree rather wildly on what sort of phenomenon metaphor is; there are no generally accepted definitions of quot;metaphorquot;, even for specialized purposes; nor any generally shared extensional demarcation of the area. One person's prime example of metaphor is for the next person not a metaphor at all. The prospects of finding a theory of metaphor precise enough to be implementable, even in principle, on a computer, and performing tasks like recognizing metaphors or producing intuitively satisfactory representations of metaphoric content seem rather bleak at present. Nevertheless, there is ongoing research that aims to accomplish these daring goals. The aim of this paper is to review some of that work, in the perspective of efforts to understand the phenomenon of metaphor in other fields of learning, and to offer some suggestions as to its continuation. 1.1 Linguistic and cognitive metaphors It cannot, of course, be assumed from the outset that there is a unified concept of metaphor at all - how does one even tell if a use of quot;metaphorquot; is itself literal or metaphorical? I think it fair to divide current interests, very roughly, into two main categories. On the one hand there is a primarily linguistic interest, focused on certain uses of words that do not seem to be easily accomodated in the current framework of grammatical, particularly semantical, theory. One works here, as elsewhere in linguistics, with example sentences - numbered and each having a line for itself as the linguist wants it - allegedly containing metaphors. The general understanding of what a metaphor is, as well as many of the examples, is derived from the rhetorical tradition concerning the tropes. Let us use quot;linguistic metaphorsquot; as a rough pointer to the sorts of example one tends to think of in this tradition, the most abused of which probably is (1) Richard is a lion.[1] On the other hand cognitive psychologists and philosophers of science have been interested in metaphors as cognitive tools. Their metaphors are not linguistic phenomena at all, or at least not obviously so, and they are not displayed in example sentences, but rather named by phrases like quot;the Conduit Metaphorquot;, quot;the Computer Metaphor of the
  • Mindquot;[2], etc. The source here is not the classical theory of the tropes - distinctions like those between metaphors, similes, and allegories seem irrelevant in this context - but rather theories of the use of analogies and concrete images in thinking. Let us call these quot;cognitive metaphorsquot;. There is, of course, no sharp borderline between linguistic and cognitive metaphors. Cognitive metaphors act as sources of metaphorical expressions, and one may think of them as canonically expressed in what may be denominated quot;essential metaphorical predicationsquot;, like (2) The mind is a computer. (3) Argument is war. (3) will be recognized as taken from Lakoff & Johnson (1980), a book that has very effectively propagated the idea that cognitive metaphors are of prime importance for understanding natural language. Carbonell (1982) argues that most metaphorical expressions are instantiations of some 50 quot;generalizedquot; metaphors, and that the understanding of linguistic metaphors to a large extent consists in recognizing them as instances of already stored cognitive metaphors, rather than in reconstructing metaphorical meaning from scratch. 1.2 Metaphoric reference and predication In rhetorics quot;metaphorquot; names one of the tropes, one of the ways in which a word or a short expression may be used in a non-ordinary manner. As such it is contrasted with other tropes, such as metonymy, hyperbol, antinomasy, etc. Metaphor is commonly accorded a sort of preeminence among the tropes - not only is it conventionally heralded as the most beatiful among them, but the word quot;metaphorquot; often takes on a generic sense and is used to cover all tropes. Indeed, this generic sense seems to be historically primary. Aristotle names no other tropes, but some of his subclasses of metaphor consist rather of synecdoques.[3] Generally speaking, the rhetorical tradition views a trope as the substitution of one name for another. Though examples of tropes in context are often given, the canonical form in which a trope is described is something like quot;X is used instead of Yquot;. The difference between different tropes is thought to reside in the different relations that motivate the substitution in each case. The substitutional view has obvious difficulties, and it has few, if any, defendants today. The argument most often adduced against it is that it treats metaphors as amenable to finite paraphrase in literal terms - to interpret a metaphor is tantamount to resubstitute the literal expression for the metaphoric.[4] This comes into conflict with the Inexhaustibility Thesis - a dogma that most modern metaphorists seem to subscribe to, and to which I will devote a special section. A more obvious difficulty is that it may be far from clear which literal expression is supposed to be replaced by the trope, as it per definition is no longer there. Nevertheless, I think that the substitution view has been brushed aside a little too easily. With its
  • emphasis on substitution of names, it points to a class of metaphors that are often neglected, namely referential metaphors. For some reason linguists and, in particular, philosophers with an interest in metaphors have concentrated their efforts on metaphorical predication. In this, the examples given above are typical: a literally identified subject is given a metaphorical predicate. Let us consider a referential metaphor instead. (4) I told John I was broke and asked him to give me my money back, but the pile of shit refused. It seems quite plausible to me that understanding the italicised metaphor primarily consists in grasping to whom it refers, namely John. The ordinary meaning of the metaphoric expression obviously has something to do with why the speaker would choose it, before all others, to achieve his referential purposes, but that does not necessarily make it an essential part of the interpretation of (4). I suggest that the substitutional view was a not entirely successful attempt to catch this basic intuition, and I will have some more things to say about metaphoric reference later on.[5] 1.3 Focus and Frame Classical rhetorics holds the substitutional view to be true of all tropes. The difference between them is supposed to reside in the relation that motivates the substitution in each case. In the case of metaphor the relation is said to be similarity between tenor and vehicle. Just like substitution, similarity is not in high esteem at present as an explanation of the metaphoric effect. That there is some truth in the appeal to similarity seems obvious, though, and I will come back to that too, at a later stage. At the moment, though, I am interested in something simpler. Rhetorical theory recognizes other ways than metaphor to exploit similarities to talk about one thing in terms normally associated with another: simile and allegory. The difference between simile and metaphor is usually taken to be slight, the simile merely being more explicit, stating the existence of a similarity that the metaphor takes for granted. A simile is quot;less bravequot; than a metaphor. A speaker chooses metaphor if he wants to achieve a quot;stronger effectquot;, simile if he wants to proceed with more caution. Just like the appeal to similarity in general, this view of the relation between metaphor and simile is rather unfashionable, and I will say no more about it. Allegory is distinguished from metaphor by its scope: an allegorical passage is longer than a sentence, and may encompass a text in its totality. Quintilianus, and many others, define allegory as a series of connected metaphors, but in doing so they seem to miss an important distinction that Fontanier draws between allegory and allegorism. The latter is, indeed, a prolonged metaphor or metaphorical passage. To understand an allegorism, or an ordinary metaphor, is to grasp the metaphorical sense - often one is not even aware that the matter was figuratively expressed. True allegory, on the other hand, gives rise to two different meanings - both the literal and the allgorical interpretation being present at the same time.
  • The importance of the distinction between allegory and metaphor (including allegorism) has, I think, to do with framing. Max Black, who only deals with metaphorical predication within a single sentence, has distinguished beween the focus and the frame of a metaphor (Black 1960). The focus is that part of the sentence which is to be taken metaphorically and the frame is the part that retains its ordinary meaning (in Black's examples normally including the grammatical subject). Generalizing this terminology to larger texts in the obvious way, we may think of allegory as a metaphor without any frame. As it usually is some sort of conflict between the frame and the focus that triggers the metaphorical interpretation of a passage, figurative interpretation of an allegory becomes an option rather than an imperative.[6] 1.4 The inexhaustibility thesis I promised to say something about the dogma that metaphors are, as a matter of principle, quot;inexhaustiblequot;, i.e., that they are not amenable to finite paraphrase or analysis. Something like the inexhaustibility thesis is probably correct for some metaphors, but I see no reason to believe it to be true of all, or even the majority of, ordinary linguistic metaphors. Proponents of the thesis seem to have had primarily creative cognitive or poetic metaphors in mind, rather than humdrum everyday metaphoring.[7] The argument most often adduced for the inexhaustibility thesis is that one generally cannot replace a metaphor with a literal paraphrase without obvious loss of effect. But although overflowing content may be part of the explanation of this fact in some cases, there are also other factors involved. Ted Cohen (1978) has drawn attention to the parallel with jokes. The explanation of a joke is usually not funny (at least not in the same way as the joke it explains) - but this does not imply that the explanation is wrong. The nice thing about a metaphor is often that it is a smart way of expressing something. A boring paraphrase is not smart in the same way, but that does not necessarily preclude it from catching the meaning of the metaphor.[8] The rhetorical tradition draws a distinction between (ordinary) metaphor and (metaphorical) catachresis. The basic feature of the classical way to conceive the tropes is that they are alternative modes of expression, presupposing the existence of some literal way to say the same thing. But in catachresis the metaphorical mechanism (or some other trope) is employed to create an expression for something that otherwise lacks a name. Obviously the substitutional theory is not apt to handle catachresis, and as elocutio - the part of classical rhetorics to which the theory of the tropes belong - primarily investigates questions of style, i.e., of choice between alternative modes of expression, it treats catachresis as a marginal phenomenon. Much modern interest in metaphor, on the other hand, seems to be directed primarily at catachresis - at the formation of quot;newquot; vocabulary. The inexhaustibility thesis even seems to imply that all metaphors are to some extent catachresis, i.e., says something that could be expressed in no other way. A quick glance at the sports pages of any newspaper should convince anyone that this is an exaggeration. 1.5 Metaphor and Polysemia
  • One point on which different authorities diverge considerably is on how to count metaphors. Almost everyone agrees that there is a zone of vagueness between metaphor and polysemia. At some point, a use of words that once was metaphorical may be conventionalized to the extent that it constitutes a new quot;literalquot; meaning of the relevant expression. The received view is, I think, that this is a very common phenomenon, and that language is full of quot;deadquot; metaphors that are no longer of much interest for the metaphorist. quot;Realquot; metaphors will, of course, be rare in proportion. At the other extreme is the opinion that almost any manner of speech that, etymologically, may be metaphorically derived from other uses of words is to count as metaphorical. From this point of view every page of a newspaper contains metaphors by the hundreds. I will not propose a non-arbitrary line between the metaphoric and the literal, and, in fact, I do not think there is any. Like other theoretical concepts of linguistics, the concept of metaphor is to a large extent an idealization, and, moreover, closely related to other idealizations - such as those of the quot;grammarquot; and the quot;lexiconquot; of a language. A metaphor is a use of language that has not been foreseen by the lexicon and the quot;ordinaryquot; rules for generating meanings for complex expressions, but is derived from lexicalized uses by a mechanism that the theory of metaphor aims to describe. Properly speaking, a use of an expression is not metaphorical in itself but only in relation to a lexicon and a grammar; it may well be metaphorical in relation to lexicon L, while literal in relation to lexicon L'. The question of how many metaphors there are boils down to the question of how big a lexicon you want, and that, of course, depends on your purpose. Chomsky made popular the view that linguistic theory aims to describe a psychological reality, the competence of a speaker. Taking this by the letter the lexicon must, presumably, also be taken as psychologically real - ideally one wants to know whether a speaker decodes a certain expression by consulting a list in his head, or by something that might be described as metaphor processing. There are of course epistemological difficulties in drawing this line, and it will have to be drawn differently for different speakers, but the aim is clear (or at least not entirely unclear). But the description of speaker's competence is not the only goal a linguist may set herself. She may for example be interested in the structure of the vocabulary itself, or in the dynamics of semantical evolution. For such purposes it may be interesting to work with the smallest possible lexicon, in order to construct informative derivations of other word uses from them.[9] 2. Recognizing metaphors A preliminary problem, it seems, for a system that generates representations of metaphorical meaning would be to recognize expressions as metaphorical, or at least as plausible candidates for metaphorical interpretation. This problem has been on the agenda of analytical philosophy since Beardsley pointed to its solution as a minimal requirement of a theory of metaphor. Unfortunately, the problem has proved more difficult than was expected, and at present it seems plausible that there are no universal and easily formalizable rules for recognizing metaphors.
  • 2.1 Some suggested criteria Most attempts at metaphor-recognition take it for granted that a literal interpretation is preferred if it is only minimally plausible. That an utterance is to be taken metaphorically is signalled by some defect in the utterance when taken literally. Disagreement have centered on which types of defect that have to be taken into account. Three criteria have been proposed: metaphorical utterances are when taken literally (1) meaningless, (2) obviously false, or (3) trivial. These are, of course, not alternatives, the question rather being whether one can get by with only (1), or will need (2) and (3) as well. One may have the impression that the first two criteria are semantic - (1) belonging to the theory of meaning, and (2) to the theory of reference - while the third is pragmatic. I think that this impression is behind the desire to get by with (1), thereby being able to content oneself with looking at more or less isolated sentences and not having to muddle around in other aspects of the total speech situation. A minimum of reflection, however, reveals all three criteria to be pragmatic, in the sense that they refer us to the speaker and his intentions, beliefs, and attitudes. A sentence being false is evidence that it should be taken figuratively only if the speaker believes it to be false, and believes his hearer to believe the same thing, etc. This is the import of the demand for quot;obviousquot; falsity - in fact, should speaker and hearer mistakenly have the appropriate beliefs it would not matter if the sentence in fact were true. A parallel argument establishes that quot;meaninglessnessquot; must be quot;obviousquot; to speaker and hearer to count as a mark of metaphor. It is a curious fact that the debate has almost invariably concentrated on metaphors occurring within isolated sentences. As will be seen, this has seriously distorted the problem. In general, metaphoricity is not a property of sentences, but a sentence may be metaphorically used on some occasions, and literally on others. I would even venture the hypothesis that almost any sentence could be used metaphorically, given the right context. If this is so, concentrating on sentences that may only be used metaphorically is probably not the most illuminating strategy. The notion that metaphorical sentences must be quot;semantically deviantquot; has been widespread, and still seems to be prevailing in AI. This is how Carbonell describes the first step in the recognition of metaphors: Attempt to analyze the input utterance in a literal, conventional fashion. If this fails, and the failure is caused by a semantic case-constraint violation, go to the next step. (Otherwise the failure is probably not due to the presence of a metaphor.) (1982, p 418) Many metaphoric utterances fulfill this criterion; think for example of the large class of personifications where inanimate or abstract objects are given determinations that quot;properlyquot; belong only to human beings. This type of criterion fitted the general project of Chomskyan linguistics perfectly. For Chomsky, the main technical problem of syntax was to draw the line between sentences and non-sentences. Semantics in transformational grammar took over the same goal: it would effect a more fine-grained sorting of the strings accepted by syntax. The theory of
  • figurative language, in turn, would make judgements of nonsensicality at bit more intuitive by rescuing sentences banned by semantics but accepted by normal speakers. This sort of goal for semantic theory seems rather unnatural to me, at least when coupled with an ambition to map the linguistic abilities of human speakers. As normal language users we are practically never faced with the task of recognizing nonsense - and when we occasionally try we are not good at it. Normally one takes it for granted that what one hears or reads makes some kind of sense - the question is what sense an utterance has, not whether it has sense in the first place. There are plenty of metaphorical utterances that do not violate any semantic constraints of the sort envisaged by Carbonell. It is, e.g., impossible to tell from the semantic structure of (1) whether Richard is, like Elsa, literally a lion, or only metaphorically so. It is only when a speakers reference is supplied that any oddity appears. Hence the suggestion that the obvious falsity criterion may be needed to supplement semantic constraint violation. [10] Unfortunately, there is no shortage of quot;twice truequot;[11] sentences either, i.e., sentences that may be literally and metaphorically true of the same thing. A large class of such sentences are furnished by negations of metaphors that fulfill the first two criteria: (5) Richard is not a lion. But other examples abound, as well. (6) He's up in the air. (7) Jane has been blue ever since she repainted her house. Even if we stick with the idea that metaphorical interpretations are preferred only when quot;betterquot; than literal candiadates, there does not seem to be any simple dimensions in which the literal interpretation must fall short in order for the metaphorical to take over. Often the true literal reading will be trivial - either in itself (quot;no man is an islandquot;) or in the context. But (7) may be a non-trivial explanation of why Jane does not want to come to dinner on both interpretations. There does not seem to be any apriori reason to exclude the existence of genuine unresolvable literal/metaphorical ambiguity, especially not on the level of isolated sentences. 2.2 A (con)textual approach to metaphoric reference One lesson to draw from the above is that the isolated sentence approach to metaphor recognition is not feasible. To detect metaphors one has to rely on general interpretative strategies that cannot be applied without abundant use of contextual information, including assumptions about the speakers intentions and beliefs. Concentrating on written text it is obvious that holistic textual properties, like consistency and coherence, will be important. As a byproduct one will hopefully prepare the way for a unified account of metaphors that are quot;framedquot; within the sentence and larger stretches of figurative text.[12] In particular it has been noted that the standard approaches to metaphor cannot handle quot;sentence-metaphorsquot;. Ortony (1980, p 72) gives the following example:
  • (8) Regardless of the danger, the troops marched on. Out of context there is nothing to indicate that (8) i metaphorical, yet it is not difficult to imagine contexts where it would function metaphorically. Ortony supplies: (9) The children continued to annoy their babysitter. She told the little boy that she would not tolerate any more bad behaviour. Climbing all over the furniture was not allowed. She threatened to not let them watch TV if they continued to stomp, run, and scream around the room. Regardless of the danger, the troops marched on. It seems to be rather easy, in a situation-theoretic framwork, to indicate what forces a metaphorical interpretation of (8) in the context (9). The definite NP:s quot;the dangerquot; and quot;the troopsquot; demand to be anchored to objects that are already in the resource situation. The only group available for plural reference is the children, and the only thing that has been indicated as harmful, by the use of quot;threatenedquot;, is for the children not to be able to wach TV. This also explains how the metaphorical interpretation could be blocked by adding more context before (9) - with some real troops and a more dangerous threat in the resource situation different anchors would be chosen for the danger and the troops. To explain metaphorical reference one would need a principle demanding that parameters that cannot be properly anchored to anything in the resource situation, will, if possible, be anchored to something that fits the parametric conditions as well as possible. Whether an expression is to be interpreted metaphorically will not only depend on the semantic properties of the expression and its frame, but also on what is available in the resource situation. In particular, adding facts to the resource situation may change the metaphoric status of an expression. Some such quot;best anchor principlequot; may also explain other facts of quot;abnormalquot; reference. Envisage the following passage as beginning a novel: (10) A man stopped in thought in front of the bank. Richard had been poor all his life, and suddenly he thought the time had come to do something about it. In the absence of any other external or internal context, quot;Richardquot; will automatically be taken as referring to the same person as quot;a manquot;, despite the fact that the resource situation does not support any fact about the man being named quot;Richardquot;. The obvious reason for this is that there is no other candidate around. This is not metaphor, of course - the most important difference being that the object assigned to quot;a manquot; does not violate any conditions associated with quot;Richardquot;, it just fails to fulfill all of them. Two problems spring to mind. The first is to define the notion of quot;best anchorquot; - presumably this will involve a salience ordering of conditions on parameters. And the other is to exclude that any parameter may be anchored to any object for pure lack of alternatives, i.e., given that the resource situation is poor enough. The natural suggestion is to demand that an anchor not only be the quot;bestquot;, but also quot;good enoughquot;. There is, of course, no guarantee that such a property could be reasonably specified within the framework of situation semantics.[13]
  • 3. The meaning of metaphors A somewhat disproportionate amount of the philosophical discussion of metaphor in recent decades have been directed at the question of whether metaphors merit the application of the basic vocabulary of semantics. Is one speaking literally or metaphorically in talking of the meaning of metaphors, or in describing a statement as false in its literal intepretation but true when taken metaphorically?[14] To a large extent, disagreement over such issues is bound to be verbal - there are no pretechnical semantic concepts precise enough to decide them. The problem does not gain substance until one has decided on a semantic theory and a format for representing the meaning of utterances. Moreover, to cover the standard cases of metaphor one must assume a semantic theory fine grained enough to account for word meaning. At a certain level, e.g., the truth condition quot;The lake is a sapphirequot; is true iff the lake is a sapphire. is perfectly in order, but it does not distinguish between a metaphorical and a literal reading of the relevant sentence, and consequently gives no specific information about either of them. In speaking of a metaphor as having meaning, I suggest that one imply, simply, that interpreting the metaphor involves generating a representation for it that is of the same kind as the representation of its ordinary meaning, but does not coincide with it. For example, if the analysis of quot;Richard is a lionquot; as literally used involves ascribing a set of semantic features to the word quot;lionquot; - or to the verb phrase, or to the sentence itself - and the analysis of a metaphorical use of the sentence involves ascribing a different set of features to the same component, then one takes the metaphor to have its own meaning. This, of course, makes the concept of metaphorical meaning highly theoretical, but so is, I have argued, the concept of metaphor itself.[15] 3.1 Similarity All attempts at constructing a computational theory of metaphor start from the idea that metaphor involves similarity or analogy. There are, in general terms, two approaches in swing - different in their heuristic suggestions, but more or less equivalent as to their content. One is based on abstraction hierarchies in semantic networks, the other on addition and deletion of semantic features. We will take them in order. 3.1.1 Abstraction The tenor and the vehicle are joined by the band of similarity, but what is it for two things to be similar? One obvious suggestion is that they are similar, in some specific respect, when the same description is true of them both[16]. Viewed in this way, description and truth become the primary phenomena and similarity derives from them. Put it in another way: if two things are similar you should be able to say what the similarity consists in. And if a metaphor, correctly applied, points to a similarity between tenor and vehicle there is a characterization, literally applicable to both of them that
  • captures that similarity. This characterization is presumably closely related to the meaning of the metaphor. An example: When one describes an argument in terms originally applicable to violent warfare, i.e., uses the ARGUMENT IS WAR metaphor, one is not implying that people get killed in arguments, that arguments should be avoided as far as possible, etc. But one obviously intends some of the things one takes to be true of wars to be true of arguments as well, such things as there being a conflict between at least two parties, where there is winning and losing, etc. Different uses of the metaphor may explore different sets of similarities - sometimes the war metaphor may indicate a certain seriousness to the conflict (quot;not just a gamequot;), perhaps the presence of a real hostility, and so forth. In a certain Aristotelian sense the explication of such similarities takes one to more quot;abstractquot; levels of description: there is a genus of which both tenor and vehicle are species, but to which they add their own specific differences. This suggests Aristotle's own account of metaphor, which to a large extent is formulated in terms of such abstraction hierarchies, but, as abstraction hierarchies form the backbone of most semantic network representation of conceptual and knowledge systems, it also fits many contemporary models.[17] This account applies uniformly to several different types of metaphor: I have used one of Lakoff's and Johnson's quot;structuralquot; metaphors as an example, but it fits their quot;spatialquot; metaphors as well. Underlying successful transfer of the up/down metaphor is an abstract linear structure common to tenor and vehicle. Apart from this similarity one has to account for the quot;directionquot; transferred (more is up, rather than down). This, I think, is in most cases possible through metonymic connections - collecting more of something often implies piling, or the like, a fact that creates an entirely unmetaphorical association between more and up. What is the point of using metaphors on this account? Is quot;Argument is warquot; only a rather awkward way of expressing the same thing as quot;Argument is conflictquot;, which, in turn, despecifies quot;Argument is argumentquot;? It is, perhaps, not entirely implausible that essential metaphorical predications should reveal themselves to be analytically true (when true), but, nevertheless, one would hope for something more breathtaking to say on the matter. It seems reasonable to look in the direction of catachresis, i.e., semantic innovation. The simplest circumstances under which climbing an abstraction tree, with the help of metaphor, would be semantically creative, is where the more abstract concept is hithertoo unlabeled. I suggest that talk of the quot;legsquot; of tables is, or was, a simple case of this kind. The same thing goes for the spatial metaphors of Lakoff & Johnson: specific instances of abstract linear structure were noted and labeled before the abstract structure itself, and their labels had to double for other instances, as well as for the abstract concept. Could ARGUMENT IS WAR be fitted in here as well? Admittedly, there is a labeled generic concept, i.e., conflict, that catches the basic similarity between wars and arguments, but the metaphor is, presumably, more specific than that. There is a set of labeled roles associated with warfare that have no lexicalized counterparts in the case of abstract conflict, nor in the case of argument. Among these labels are tactics, strategies, weapons, allies, neutrals, guerilla warfare, main battle, battlefield, etc. The metaphor
  • invites one to construct reasonably abstract versions of such concepts, and attach them to the quot;newquot; abstract war node. Differentiating a genus may be done in countless ways, and only a tiny fraction of them get lexicalized. Metaphor is a way of transferring useful differentiations made in one branch of a concepual tree to another, of getting the most out of existing lexicalizations. [18] 3.1.2 Feature deletion The other popular model for representing the semantic content of expressions derives from componential semantics. A dictionary entry is associated with a set of semantic[19] features, and a metaphoric use of an expression involves constructing a different set of features for it than in the normal course of semantic interpretation. There are only two basic operations available for transforming one feature set into another: addition and deletion of features. Climbing an abstraction hierarchy, in the manner indicated in the foregoing section, corresponds in an obvious way to deletion of semantic features. The proper platonic/aristotelian way to conceive the construction of an abstraction tree is in terms of genera and specific differences. You reach the daughter node quot;humanquot; from its parent node quot;animalquot; by adding the feature quot;rationalquot; - you consequently reach more abstract nodes by deleting features, in turn.[20] To rephrase the ARGUMENTS IS WAR example in terms of feature deletion, let us assume, for the sake of argument, the following definition for WAR: [conflict; violent; with many contestants on each side]. Deleting the violence and the multitudes leaves us with bare conflict - just like climbing a few nodes in an abstraction hierarchy. To have a more interesting metaphorical content, you must have a more interesting unmetaphorical content to start from - but something should be left to the reader. 4. Summary The main obstacle to the project of developing an exact theory of metaphor interpretation is the lack of a useful and comprehensive taxonomy, in terms of which reasonable goals for research could be set. I have tried to delimit a class of referential metaphors, that have largely been neglected in the modern discussion, and which it seems natural to treat in conjunction with other problems of non-descriptive reference, e.g., with anaphoric pronoun reference. I also sketch a suggestion for how referential metaphors are interpreted by being related to the resource situation that is successively built up during the interpretation of a text. I have made some remarks on the demarcation between the metaphorical and the literal, suggesting that the problems encountered in this area are to a large extent pseudoproblems - dissipating when it is realized that metaphoricity is not a property but a relation. The expression quot;x is a metaphorquot; should be treated as an ellipsis for quot;x is metaphorical in relation to lexicon Lquot;, with L in most cases contextually presupposed.
  • I have also discussed some suggested criteria for recognizing metaphors, reaching the conclusion that the most popular candidates fail, partly because they apply only at the level of the isolated sentence, disregarding properly (con)textual factors. The paper ends with some fairly general remarks on the notion of metaphoric meaning. Intuitive descriptions of the two main current approaches are given - based on abstraction hierachies in semantic networks , and manipulation of semantic feature sets, respectively. It is argued that the difference between the two approaches concern their heuristics, rather than their content. REFERENCES Aristotle: Rhetorics and Poetics. In The Works of Aristotle (ed. W.D. Ross), vol XI. Bartsch, Renate (1984): quot;The Structure of Word Meanings: Polysemy, Metaphor, Metonymyquot;, in Landman & Veltman (eds.): Varieties of Formal Semantics, GRASS, Faris Publications 1984. Black, Max (1954): quot;Metaphorquot;, in Models and Metaphors, New York 1962. Booth, Wayne C (1978): quot;Metaphor as Rhetoric: The Problem of Evaluationquot;, in Critical Inquiry, vol. 5, nr 1, 49-72 Brachman, Roland J, et al. (1983): quot;Krypton: a Functional approach to Knowledge Representationquot;, Readings in Knowledge Representations (ed. Brachman R J & Levesque H J), Los Altos, Cal., 1985 Carbonell, Jaime B (1982): quot;Metaphor: an Inescabable Phenomenon in Natural Language Comprehensionquot;, Strategies for Natural Language Processing (ed. Lehnert W G & Ringle M H), Hillsdale, New Jersey, 1982. Cohen, Ted (1976): quot;Notes on Metaphorquot;, Jnl of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, vol 34, 1976, 249-59. Cohen, Ted (1978): quot;Metaphor and the Cultivation of Intimacyquot;, in Critical Inquiry, vol. 5, nr 1, 3-12 Davidson, Donald (1978): quot;What metaphors meanquot;, in Truth and Interpretation, Oxford 1984. Dumarsais (1729): Les Tropes, Fontaniers edition (Paris 1818) reprinted Genève 1967. Fontanier, Pierre (1821-30): Les Figures du Discours, Paris 1968. Goodman, Nelson (1968): Languages of Art, andra upplagan Indianapolis 1976.
  • Lakoff, G & Johnson, M (1980): Metaphors We Live By, Chicago 1980 Pepper, Stephen (1942): World Hypotheses. A Study in Evidence, Berkeley, Cal., 1942. Quillian, M Ross (1967), quot;Word Concepts: A Theory and Simulation of Some Basic Semantic Capabilitiesquot;, Readings in Knowledge Representations (ed. Brachman R J & Levesque H J), Los Altos, Cal., 1985 Quintilianus: De Institutio Oratoria. Transl. H E Butler, Loeb Classical Library, vol. 124-127. Reddy, Michael (1979): quot;The Conduit Metaphorquot;, in Ortony (ed): Metaphor and Truth, Cambridge 1979. Rhetorique générale par le groupe my, Paris 1970. Woods, William A (1975): quot;What's in a Link: Foundations for Semantic Networksquot;, Readings in Knowledge Representations (ed. Brachman R J & Levesque H J), Los Altos, Cal., 1985 ---- Endnotes [1]. The example makes up for its triteness, one might say, by its ancient heritage. Aristotle's very first example of metaphor is quot;the lion leaptquot;, said about Achilleus. In Quintilianus it becomes quot;he is a lionquot; - I do not know who gave us Richard instead of Achilleus. Nevertheless, the metaphorhood of quot;Richard is a lionquot; may be contested in at least two ways. One might argue that it is a quot;deadquot; metaphor, and so, properly speaking, not a metaphor at all. Or one may hold that it is strictly speaking a case of synechdoque: the word for a species of brave creature doing duty for the name of the genus. [2]. This is a good example of a problem case. Is the brain metaphorically or literally a computer? And is the mind metaphorically or literally a program? It seems that the more successful the quot;metaphorquot; is, the less we tend to see it as a metaphor. [3]. The rest of the tropological terminology surfaces more or less complete in Cicero - it seems to have been invented between his time and Aristotle's by stoic rhetoricians. [4]. This is the complaint that Black, e.g., levels against what he calls the substitution view. There are, however, theories of metaphor that grants a role to a suppressed expression (in addition to the quot;focusquot; and the quot;framequot;) in the intepretation of metaphor, without viewing such interpretation as a simple inversion of metaphorical substitution. [5]. The metaphor in (4) seems to function rather like an anaphoric pronoun, a class of expressions for which a quot;substitutional viewquot; seems obviously correct. There is a trope for which the substitutional view seems to be entirely right, namely euphemism - and perhaps (4) might be argued to be an quot;invertedquot; euphemism.
  • [6]. It seems natural to suppose that the difference between metaphor and allegory is even more radical. Proper metaphor seems to be a linguistic phenomenon in a way that allegory is not. A painting, e.g., may be allegorical in exactly the same sense as a text, but it is harder to imagine what it would be for a painting literally to contain a metaphor. In the terminology of situation semantics, metaphor seems to be involved in the ordinary textual transition from the utterance situation to the described situation, while allegory seems to be a relation between the linguistically described situation, and some further situation. [7]. Not that a metaphor has to be new to be rich in meaning. Max Black has drawn attention to the important differences of emphasis with which a metaphor may be uttered. Even a rather worn out metaphor may be heavily emphazised, making it appropriate for the receiver to pursue even farfetched implications of it. [8]. For any two expressions, there will probably be some situation where the difference between them will be important - but this general point applies to all forms of synonymy, and I take it that proponents of the Inexhaustibilty thesis are aiming at something more specific to metaphor. [9]. I think Lakoff & Johnson (1980) may profitably be viewed in the latter way, as well as, more explicitly, Bartsch (1984). [10]. A criterion may, of course, be important without applying to all cases, and I will suggest below that something akin to case-constraint violation plays an important part in metaphor recognition, namely violations of conditions on parameters. The need for metaphoric interpretation arises when a parameter cannot be anchored quot;properlyquot;, when the quot;bestquot; anchor does not fulfill all the conditions associated with the parameter. [11]. The denomination is from Ted Cohen's pioneering paper (1976). [12]. Cf the following quotation from Pepper (1942), on the function of quot;world hypothesesquot;: For the words of the book are supposed, so to speak, to put us in gear with the world, so that all we have to do is to guide the wheel and observe how things look as the headlights bring them into view. Actually this ideal is not attained, as the conflict of world theories with one another and the conflict of facts within world theories sufficiently prove. The gears grind, the lights flicker, and the lenses distort. Nevertheless, we do get some idea of our world from these vehicles, and without them we should have to move pretty much in the dark. (p 80) Obviously there is a lot of metaphoring going on here, but there is nothing inside the italicised sentence to show that it is metaphoric. [13]. It seems quite likely that the demand is no stricter than that the adressee shall be able to think of some reason for the speaker to use that particular expression to refer to that particular object. [14]. The question whether metaphors have meaning is the subject of a famous debate between Donald Davidson, Max Black, and Nelson Goodman, in Critical Inquiry, vol. 5, numbers 1 & 2.
  • [15]. It is not obvious that all metaphors are semantic phenomena in this sense. At least for some metaphors it does not seem unlikely that quot;understandingquot; them involves mental imagery and perceptionlike processes, rather than symbolic processing. [16]. A somewhat tricky formulation, of course. The same description in the same literal sense, one is tempted to add - the metaphor itself cannot pull itself by the hair. [17]. Semantic network approaches to metaphor generally rely on an almost geographic intuition of the existence of mappings between tenor and vehicle, concentrating on role- structure. But roles must be labeled to be interesting; and the labels must obviously, on pain of an infinite regress, not themselves be metaphorically taken. Taking the species to species mapping, from war to argument as proceeding by way of an intermediate more abstract level suggests a way in which the mapping acquires content. [18]. Classical theory has some standard answers to why one sometimes prefers a metaphorical expression to a literal. Apart from catachresis, where there is no literal alternative, metaphors are chosen because they are decorative, vivid, or brief. Aesthetic factors undoubtedly play an important role when it comes to trigger metaphoric language - whether the metaphor is chosen for it own beauty or, e.g., to effect some stylistic variation - but we will say no more of them here. Brevity is, of course, not to be scorned. Technical terms are, whenever possible, chosen for their metaphoric potential, even though the concepts they designate have perfectly adequate unmetaphorical definitions. The quot;treequot; structures frequently alluded to in the last few sections may serve as examples. quot;Vividnessquot; seems to be the effect most often aimed at in the case of referential metaphors. Semantically they behave in some ways like pronouns, and the quot;featurequot; transferred by the metaphor is often an attitude or a valuation, rather than any descriptive charcterization. [19]. As usual there is a problem of delimiting quot;properly semanticquot; information from world knowledge, or the dictionary from the quot;encyclopediaquot;. There seems to be almost universal consensus that there is no non-arbitrary line to be drawn between the two, and many metaphors will obviously transfer features that seem decidedly non-semantic. I will ignore such complications here. [20]. Indeed, at the level of program code, the nodes of an abstraction tree are bound to be represented as lists of names referring to other nodes: ancestors, descendants, and roles.