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Quill PenTips for Writers by Brad

January 5, 2003

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Metaphors We Live By (All Language is Metaphor!)

Oftentimes, we like to think that metaphor is something special, unusual, or poetic. According to George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, authors of the book, Metaphors We Live By, this is far from the truth.

They argue that "metaphor is pervasive in everyday life, not just in language but in thought and action."

Here are a few examples of what they mean:

"Conscious is up; Unconscious is down" For example: "Get up. Wake up. He fell asleep. He sank into a coma." (We also know, of course, that being happy is up and being sad is down.)

"The future is in front and the past is behind." For example: "In the weeks ahead of us . . ." or "That's all behind us now."

The authors argue that how we view the world (for example that we give mountains and chairs feet and legs, just like ourselves) is the basis of language itself (and are comparisons, or, in other words, metaphors!).

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