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The Notion of Metaphor.

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The Notion of Metaphor. When I use a word...it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less (Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland) Our language can call to mind engaging sights, smells, tastes, and sounds. With language, we can bring an idea to life and make abstractions seem concrete. Figures of speech, such as similes, personification, and metaphors, can create powerful images for the audience. Powerful images are often what makes the speeches appealing, interesting, and memorable. Aristotle described a command of metaphors as "the greatest thing by far" (Cindy L. Griffin, Invitation to Public Speaking). The word metaphor comes from a Greek term meaning "transference". It is a comparison between two things that describes one thing as being something else. In language, a metaphor is a rhetorical trope defined as a direct comparison between two seemingly unrelated subjects. ...read more.


In contrast, Menchu's comparison of the Mayan people to myths, ruins, and zoos is more subtle. In both examples, the metaphors make the comparison memorable (Rigoberta Menchu, Five Hundred Years of Sacrifice before Alien Gods). What exactly a metaphor is, and how it works, has long been the subject of debate in philosophy, linguistics, psychology, and literary theory. Metaphor has traditionally been treated as a figure of speech or literary device reflecting imprecise thinking or added to non-metaphorical speech for decoration. Newer developments treat metaphor more as a way of seeing and/or learning, and as such, as an elemental part of language and thought, rather than as decoration which can be eliminated. From this point of view, metaphors as literary devices constitute a subset of the more general human cognitive activity. ...read more.


There are two different points in such discussions. The first is that political speakers can use metaphors in rhetorically effective ways to create new meanings and to challenge previously established ways of understanding. The second is that metaphors can function as routine idioms in political discourse in ways that deaden political awareness. George Lakoff warned: "Metaphors can kill. The discourse over whether to go to war in the gulf was a panorama of metaphor. Secretary of State Baker saw Saddam Hussein as "sitting on our economic lifeline." President Bush portrayed him as having a "stranglehold" on our economy. General Schwarzkopf characterized the occupation of Kuwait as a "rape" that was ongoing. The President said that the US was in the gulf to "protect freedom, protect our future, and protect the innocent", and that we had to "push Saddam Hussein back." (George Lakoff, Metaphor and War: The Metaphor System Used to Justify War in the Gulf) ...read more.

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