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Understanding Figurative LanguageFrom Metaphor to Idioms$
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Sam Glucksberg

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780195111095

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195111095.001.0001

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Beyond Similarity

Beyond Similarity

(p.29) 3 Beyond Similarity
Understanding Figurative Language

Sam Glucksberg

Oxford University Press

This chapter addresses the traditional pragmatic view that metaphors are understood as implicit comparisons, i.e., as similes. This position, as well as the salience imbalance proposal that differentiates between literal and metaphorical similarity, are critically examined and rejected. The chapter rejects comparison theories of any kind. Instead of understanding metaphor as implicit comparisons, it is argued that metaphors are understood directly as class-inclusion assertions that create new, relevant, and useful categories. Such categories function to characterize topics that are of interest in a discourse. The concept of dual reference is introduced to account for the ability of metaphors to be paraphrased as similes (and vice-versa), and the structure of metaphorical categories is described. How people perceive metaphoricity in both nominal and verbal metaphors is discussed, as well as the determinants of metaphorical aptness.

Keywords:   aptness, categorization, category structure, class-inclusion, comparison theory, dual reference, implicit comparison, metaphoricity, nominal metaphor, salience imbalance

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