A variational approach to deliberate metaphors
While Deliberate Metaphor Theory is controversial from a psychological point of view, its advocates propose that the communicative notion of ‘deliberateness’ is valuable for structural-functional analyses of metaphors in the social world. Nevertheless, the inter-relationships between the linguistic, conceptual, and communicative dimensions of metaphor highlighted by Deliberate Metaphor Theory, and how these may vary across different discourse contexts, remains underexplored. This paper examines deliberate metaphor across four contrasting discourse categories of psychotherapy talk, news articles, popular science articles, and political speeches. 800 metaphor units were randomly sampled and coded under the variables DIRECT (direct/indirect), NOVEL (novel/conventional), DELIB (deliberate/non-deliberate), and CATEGORY. In the first part of the study, a hierarchical log-linear analysis identified three significant interaction effects: DELIB*DIRECT, CATEGORY*NOVEL*DIRECT, and CATEGORY *NOVEL*DELIB (χ2(7) = 0.0, p = 1). While generally reflecting the inter-relatedness of the three dimensions, the three-way interactions point towards underexplored patterns of variation which are discussed with respect to contrasting discourse objectives. In the second part of the study, six categories of deliberate metaphor features were inductively identified: elaboration, signal, analogy, stark novelty, topic-triggering, and repetition. They demonstrate diverse strategic ways in which ‘deliberateness’ is constructed across the four discourse categories.
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