Metaphor shifting in the dynamics of talk

Cameron, Lynne (2008). Metaphor shifting in the dynamics of talk. In: Zanotto, Mara Sophia; Cameron, Lynne and Cavalcanti, Marilda C. eds. Confronting metaphor in use: An applied linguistic approach. Pragmatics & Beyond. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, pp. 45–62.



This chapter explores what happens to a metaphor after it has been first used. Metaphor shifting refers to changes in adaptations made to the metaphor as the talk or text proceeds. Shifting is analysed from the perspective of what language users do with the vehicle (or source domain) term, its connecting concepts and lexical fields, in a dynamic flux of language use. The data are Metaphor shifting is drawn from two very different discourse contexts: school classrooms and conciliation talk. In each context, certain types of shifting are found which serves the particular discourse purposes or goals. This adaptive variation with context is found to connect to underlying stability in the available processes of metaphor use. Metaphor shifting bus illustrates the research issue that arises in applied linguistic approaches to metaphor, and as discussed in the Introduction to this volume, of relating generalised principles to context-bound descriptive frameworks.
Empirical evidence is presented of three types of shifting: vehicle re-deployment, vehicle development, and vehicle literalisation, in which metaphor shifts into the real world. The range of types of shifting are exemplified and described, together with the rhetorical and discourse effects of their use in context. The final section brings these processes together in a general framework of metaphor shifting, and considers implications for applied metaphor research and theory building.

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