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Metaphor in language, thought, and communication

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The aim of this paper is to give an introduction to the research done on metaphor in language, cognition, and communication at VU University Amsterdam. First I will briefly situate metaphor in the context of cognitive linguistics and discourse analysis, emphasizing our main concern with usage (Steen 2007, 2008). Then I will discuss three different methods of analysis that are needed for the analysis of metaphor in language, thought, and communication: in our research group we have developed two of these to different degrees of perfection and reliability. The most important findings produced in the first field, by means of corpus-linguistic research on samples of English (200K words) and Dutch (130K words) in four different registers, will then be briefly described and placed in a broader context. Finally I will branch out into some of the possible connections with the disciplines of psycholinguistics, applied linguistics, and computational linguistics.


Steen, G. J. (2007). Finding metaphor in grammar and usage: A methodological analysis of theory and research. Amsterdam, John Benjamins.

Steen, G. J. (2008). “The paradox of metaphor: Why we need a three-dimensional model of metaphor.” Metaphor and Symbol 23(4): 213-241.

This talk is part of the NLIP Seminar Series series.

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