What is said by a metaphor
The role of salience and conventionality
Contextualist theorists have recently defended the views (a) that metaphor-processing can be treated on a par with other meaning changes, such as narrowing or transfer, and (b) that metaphorical contents enter into “what is said” by an utterance. We do not dispute claim (a) but consider that claim (b) is problematic. Contextualist theorists seem to leave in the hands of context the explanation about why it is that some meaning changes are directly processed, and thus plausibly form part of “what is said”, while some others are not. While granting the role of context in this respect, we contend that there are elements that play an instrumental role in providing direct access to the metaphorical content, namely, the conventionality of the expressions and the salience of the concepts involved. We will start by criticizing Recanati’s and Relevance Theory’s accounts of metaphor. Then we examine the claims of Carston’s and Giora’s two-process accounts that set the stage for a revision of the main elements involved, namely, the properties of conventionality and salience. Finally we examine a number of representative examples, explaining why some cases involve a direct access to the metaphorical content and others require an intermediate non-figurative interpretation.
Keywords: metaphor, salience, what is said, Contextualism, conventionality
Published online: 21 July 2014
Cited by 1 other publications
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