Introduction: Metaphor and Language

Demjén, Zsófia and Semino, Elena (2016). Introduction: Metaphor and Language. In: Semino, Elena and Demjén, Zsófia eds. The Routledge Handbook of Metaphor and Language. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 1–10.



It is difficult to overstate the importance of metaphor in human language(s), thought and experience. Over centuries of scholarship and a period of particularly intense focus in the last four decades, metaphor has been defined, theorized and applied in many different and sometimes mutually incompatible ways. Nonetheless, a fairly broad consensus exists that metaphor involves the perception of similarities or correspondences between unlike entities and processes, so that we can see, experience, think and communicate about one thing in terms of another – our lives as journeys, our minds as machines, our emotions as external forces, people as animals, inanimate objects as people, and so on. This expands our ability to feel, reason and communicate in ways that are characteristically human.

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