Edited by Anna Idström and Elisabeth Piirainen
[Cognitive Linguistic Studies in Cultural Contexts 2] 2012
► pp. 275–292
Cognitive Metaphor Theory involves an assumption that the metaphorical patterns which systematically connect a source domain to a target domain stem from cognitive mapping: understanding and experiencing one thing in terms of another. The Inari Saami material collected from several sources does not support this assumption. Instead, this paper offers an alternative explanation for the systematic patterns of metaphors which are revealed through personal fieldwork and related research, based on both culture and cognition, in accordance with the Relevance Theory. When a human adapts to his/her environment, the recurring patterns in this environment form image schemata in his/her mind. Communication is partly based on the activation of these schemata. In conventional Inari Saami metaphors, reindeer and wild animals are repeatedly mentioned to signify somebody’s behavior. People have paid much attention to the behavior of those animals, and thus they make vivid schemata. By activating such a schema, a speaker is able to convey an idea with an apt metaphor in a conversational situation. This implies that the listener must have a similar life-experience, i.e., cultural background, in order to interpret the metaphor as intended. The best metaphors are repeated and conventionalized. That is why idioms reveal something intimate about the culture of their speakers: they mirror the everyday human life in those days when people still lived in the harsh natural conditions of the wilderness around Lake Inari.
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