Metaphors We Live By. George Lakoff & Mark Johnson

Metaphors We Live By

George Lakoff & Mark Johnson. University of Chicago: 1980.

A fascinating study on metaphors. This is the kind of linguistics I like because by studying the language, you can get to philosophical ‘truths.’

The authors use many examples of metaphors, such as LOVE IS WAR or IDEAS ARE FOOD, giving specific instances of each over-arching metaphor. But they are primarily concerned with our use of metaphors as concepts – if we use the LOVE IS WAR metaphor, our reality is different than someone who uses the LOVE IS A JOURNEY metaphor.

The most interesting thing (a tangent, really) about their theory is the realization that within these conceptual metaphors, such as ARGUMENT IS A BUILDING, are unused specific metaphors, such as “his argument had many small rooms”, that can still be understood. Attention, all poets!

The book, although not very interestingly written, contains some great content. A definite keeper to re-read if I ever find myself becoming too settled in my thoughts.