An integrated study of visual metaphors in Chinese editorial cartoons
Conceptual metaphor theory highlights that metaphor is a matter of thinking. This assumption indicates that metaphors exist not only in language, but also in other modes. This study examines uses of visual and visual-verbal metaphors in 50 Chinese editorial cartoons conceptualizing serious haze problem, with the intention of eliciting implicit meaning conveyed by visual signs alone or together with verbal texts. Both conceptual and critical discourse analysis of the metaphors are conducted. The study finds that the way a metaphor is realized visually and verbally in a cartoon determines the features mapped onto the topic, and further implicitly expresses a critical stance toward the topic under discussion. The metaphors in the cartoons evoke a general understanding of haze problem by activating the war scenario and familiar cultural or social context in viewers. It is found in this corpus that visual fusion and visual replacement are the most frequent kinds of visual metaphors. The study further affirms that visual metaphors are better in conveying rich and implicit conceptual and affective meaning, and can be direct manifestation of the conceptual metaphor without the mediation of language. In sum the study suggests the need for an integrated approach to visual metaphoric representation in multimodal analysis.
Keywords: visual metaphor, war scenario, critical multimodal discourse analysis, editorial cartoons
Published online: 04 February 2020
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