Critical discourse analysis and the Corpus-Informed Interpretation of Metaphor at the Register Level

O'Halloran, Kieran (2007). Critical discourse analysis and the Corpus-Informed Interpretation of Metaphor at the Register Level. Applied Linguistics, 28(1) pp. 1–24.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/aml046

Abstract

One aspect of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) involves examining how metaphors in texts, particularly hard news texts (reports of very recent conflicts, crimes etc), imply certain values. The usual theoretical basis for such analysis is Lakoff and Johnson (1980). My article shows problems with transplanting Lakoff and Johnson’s discourse-level approach to a CDA register-level one. I use Lee’s (1992) analysis and interpretation of what he identifies as metaphors in a hard news text as a case study to show the following: problems with how CDA prototypically draws on Lakoff and Johnson (1980) to critically analyse metaphor at the level of register.

I draw on evidence from a large corpus in order to show collocational and phraseological evidence around what Lee identifies as metaphors. I show how this evidence questions not only his interpretation of these expressions, but also his Lakoff and Johnson (1980) inspired analysis. In doing so, I offer the concept of ‘register prosody’ as well as a corpus-based method for checking over-interpretation of linguistic data as metaphorical, in relation to regular readers of a range of registers.

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