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Scenario Negotiation in Online Debates about the European Union

Analysing Metaphor in Communication


Stefanie Vogelbacher

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.

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7 Conclusions and suggestions for further research


This study focused on Scenario Negotiation as a metaphor-related discourse activity. Exactly how Scenario Negotiation as metaphor use in naturally occurring discourse can be analysed was the first overarching research question: How is metaphor grounded in COMMUNICATION – both in terms of socio-cultural context and language-specific patterns? Which types of Scenario Negotiation can be postulated in terms of conceptual-communicative patterns? How do language users position themselves discursively when they engage in Scenario Negotiation? As the results presented in the previous Section show, my study makes the following contributions:

First, drawing on data from a specific-purpose corpus and complemented by a detailed analysis of the genre of online debating as communicative context, my study provides the first comprehensive, genre-specific discussion of Scenario Negotiation that addresses the grounding of the Metaphorical Scenarios in discourse and the conceptual system as well as metaphor-related interactional positionings.

Second, my study proposes a refined typology of Scenario Negotiation, including figures about the distribution of Scenario Negotiation strategies in my corpus, and a set of genre-specific patterns of interactional positioning via metaphor, thus opening up a new socio-communicative perspective.

Third, my study has shown that the operationalisation of conventionality via a corpus-based dictionary is a necessary tool to make discourse analytical methods more reliable and results comparable and reproducible. However, it also suggests that the focus on any specific discourse domain, in this case EU discourse, requires a custom fit reference tool.

Fourth, the study presents an Integrated...

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