Publication details [#64179]

Marhula, Joanna. 2018. “It’s like herding butterflies”. Simile-type comparisons and the interplay between similes and metaphors in radio discourse. Metaphor and the Social World 8 (1) : 64–80.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins
Journal DOI


This study focuses on simile in real language use. More specifically, it examines the explanatory power of similes in dialogic interaction where speakers are trying to bring their intimate experiences closer to others. The material under analysis comes from BBC Radio 4 “Woman’s Hour” programmes and is characterized by a relatively high simile frequency compared with other spoken genres, for example, academic lectures (Low, 2010). In view of this fact, the study aims to explore the discourse functions of similes in radio talk: are they one-off rhetorical figures which cater for local discourse needs only, or do they also form extensive explanations with more global discourse functions? Apart from examining how simile-type comparisons are employed in radio conversations, the study also explores the interplay between similes and metaphors as well as their complementary role in realizing communicative discourse goals.