Publication details [#10794]

Trim, Richard. 2007. Conceptual networking theory in metaphor evolution: Diachronic variation in models of love.
Publication type
Unpublished manuscript
Publication language
Place, Publisher


The present study examines love metaphors, whose present-day features have been well documented (Lakoff & Johnson: 1980; Kövecses: 1988; 2000), and thus provide a useful point of comparison for historical research. The analysis involves data taken from medieval English literature and is compared with other European literary works for origins by tracing metaphor models back to Antiquity. The study shows that a large number of love metaphors have a long life-span but often undergo considerable variation as in the diachronic trends outlined above. Long-term examples of regularity include the original conceptual metaphor of LOVE = FIRE, as in 'she is his latest flame'. This can be traced back to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales: 'Ye knowen wel, lord, that right as hir desyr is to be quiked and lighted of your fyr' (You know well, lord, that just as her desire is to be quickened and lighted by your fire - 'Franklin's Tale'). Literary studies have also shown that Chaucer was greatly influenced by contemporary French and Italian literature. This regular pattern of networking, however, starts to reveal considerable variation in love metaphors when factors such as time-specific cultural aspects, saliency and linguistic/conceptual switching are taken into account. It is this aspect of variation which will form the focus of the present paper. (Richard Trim)