Analysing Metaphor in Communication
For decades, the focus of Metaphor Studies laid on Conceptual Metaphor and its role in the human conceptual system. This study, however, focuses on metaphor in communication. Its aim is to shed light on how commenters in online debates discuss EU-related topics via Scenario Negotiation, expressing and negotiating their points of view via Metaphorical Scenarios. The study offers a review of current metaphor theory and practical approaches and proposes an Integrated Model of Scenario Negotiation. The results are based on context-sensitive, qualitative analysis of data which stem from a corpus of online debates from the Guardian’s Comment is free section. The discussion illustrates the genre-specific conceptual-communicative functions of Scenario Negotiation in naturally occurring discourse.
5 Analysing scenario negotiation in online debates about the EU
Inspired by Lynne Cameron’s research into metaphor in talk, the motivation for the present research is to present a case study on metaphor in naturally occurring discourse. The idea is to use online debating as a source to study language users’ spontaneous use of metaphor and to explore conceptual patterns and communicative functions of metaphor “in the wild”, as the Pragglejaz group put it in their 2007 paper. However, before turning to naturally occurring discourse data, it is necessary to prepare the ground by getting clear about theoretical assumptions, analytical concepts and methodological steps. First, the term metaphor covers several phenomena in discourse, which make it necessary to distinguish between three concepts: language-specific (and possibly universal) conceptual metaphor, discourse-specific metaphor as part of argumentative traditions, and metaphor-related lexical units in text or talk, which are used to evoke Metaphorical Scenarios as part of a communicative strategy. Attached come theoretical and methodological issues, i.e. the need for an operationalisation of metaphor in naturally occurring discourse, the distinction of conventional vs. novel metaphor, and of deliberate vs. non-deliberate metaphor. Second, the idea of looking at online debates to study ordinary language users’ spontaneous use of metaphor turns out to be problematic: A closer look at different places for online debating shows that discussion formats vary with respect to participants as well as other framing conditions, which challenges any idea of “the ordinary language user”. Further, online debating is a situated communicative activity, and the use of metaphor thus requires context-sensitive...
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