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"Avoid metaphor and metonymy if you want to write clearly and effectively" Discuss, using examples from recent texts to illustrate your answer.

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Written Discourse Analysis, ELF 601 Assessed Assignment 3: "Avoid metaphor and metonymy if you want to write clearly and effectively." Discuss, using examples from recent texts to illustrate your answer. Word count: 2032 The use of metaphor, either verbally, or in written discourse, to describe scenes & explain events in the world around us is very common, its use enables us to understand & experience one type of thing within the conditions & terms of another, whereas metonymy is the use of one entity to refer to another that is related to it, & includes 'synecdoche' where the part stands for the whole, Lakoff & Johnson, (1980:36). According to Lakoff & Johnson, (1980: ix) metaphor is ever-present, in language, as well as thought & action. They, along with Pinker, (1997: 352 et seq) perceive human thought processes to be metaphorical in nature; Pinker also suggests that some metaphorical concepts have grown to be so common, across the whole range of speech acts & other events that we experience, that they are no longer recognisable to the layman as metaphorical expressions, so entrenched within our everyday language use have they become. According to this insight into metaphor, it can be seen as one of the principal methods by which language evolves, Jaynes, (1990), moreover, repetition of a metaphor can bring it into ordinary language, eventually warranting a dictionary entry. As metaphor is so deeply rooted within our everyday language use, it would be surprising if written discourse was free of metaphorical expression.


have revealed that the use of terms such as force & mass function as metaphors, e.g. "But at the lower particle energies [...] W+, W- & Z0 would acquire large masses, making the forces they carry have a very short range." , Hawking, (1996:93) Out of context, this makes absolutely no sense at all, but within the context of the book these terms have perfectly clear meanings & are efficient in describing the concepts of weak nuclear force & radioactivity. According to Lakoff &Johnson, (1980:4) the language of argument within the concept 'argument is war' is literal, not fanciful, poetic or fanciful. A good illustration of the concept 'argument is war' can be found in journalistic comment on political discussion. Legislation under threat as upper house takes on the government [...] forced to pay attention [...] sustaining their opposition [...] How far could the unelected upper house take its battle with elected MPs? [...] a savvy operator who has formed a formidable alliance with the Lib Dem leader [...] stayed up into the early hours negotiating. [...] But the battle was a symbol of escalating tensions [...] that threatens [...] This week's stand-off [...] Emboldened, they have stood their ground. The Guardian, (22/11/03: 13) All this from one article describing a disagreement between the members of the House of Lords & elected MPs. The use of metaphorical expression emphasises the level of discord between the two groups, & without the use of these metaphors it would be less easy to highlight the intensity of this conflict.


What this example of metonymy (& metaphor) refers to here may not be clear to everyone, but would be immediately apparent to anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of the rules of football. According to Lakoff & Turner, (1989: xi) metaphor is a tool that is accessible to everyone, even children are familiar with everyday metaphor, they also declare that metaphor aids our understanding of ourselves & the world in ways that no other forms of thought can & that it is essential to our imagination & to our reason. How could we explain & understand new or difficult concepts without recourse to metaphor, without the resource of explaining an event or object in terms of another we would be at a loss when attempting to describe new experiences. In some cases metaphorical expressions are not immediately clear, this would usually be due to language or cultural differences, & within one's own language even novel or unusual metaphors are normally easily understood, often aided by contextual information surrounding the metaphorical expression. This is in accord with Baker, (1992) who maintains that texts by themselves are neither coherent nor incoherent, that the coherence of a text is dependent on the capability of the reader to make sense of it by its relation to what s/he already knows or is familiar with. Wittgenstein, (1953) states that verbal expressions are substitutes for more basic or natural forms of behaviour, this too goes well with the opinion that human thought processes are metaphorical in nature; our verbal expressions being extensions of our thoughts, & our attempts to communicate them.

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