DOI: 10.14704/nq.2019.17.3.2001

Several Reasons behind Using Metaphor: A Cognitive Perspective on Metaphoric Language

Hassan Banaruee, Hooshang Khoshsima, Esmail Zare-Behtash, Nahid Yarahmadzehi


Looking at metaphoric language from a cognitive perspective, this article offers several reasons behind the prevalence of metaphors in human language. Firstly, metaphoric language is cognitively economic. When we use metaphors, a salient and conventionally-recognized feature of the base is attributed to the target. This projection is accompanied by the automatic inhibition of metaphorically-irrelevant meaning aspects, which reduces the burden on the cognitive system of language user. Secondly, in many cases of metaphors, an event or idea is described by the mediation of images. This image schematization is a tool by which the processes of understanding and interpretation are facilitated. Thirdly, metaphors appear in the language in a coherent manner, making the processes of expression and understanding systemic and frame-based. Fourthly, employing the most typical words in the base position of metaphors lubricates the process of comprehension, because they are at the peak of metaphor-based categories. Therefore, they are readily accessible to the comprehender. However, in addition to these cognitive factors, some other external factors such as social and contextual ones might have contributed to the prevalence of metaphors in our language.


Metaphoric language; Base; Target; Inhibition; Suppression

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