Publication details [#11650]

Zubair, Shirin. 2008. Silent birds: Metaphorical constructions of literacy and gender identity in women's talk. Discourse Studies 9 (6) : 766–783. 18 pp.


Most prior research on figurative language has looked at the cognitive aspects of metaphoricity. The present research attempts at going beyond metaphor's cognitive impact and aims to view the social and discoursal aspects of metaphorical constructions in relation to people's identities and social realities. This article reports an analysis and discussion of figurative language used by Pakistani women while talking about their literacies and selfhood. The article makes two claims about figurative language: first, metaphorical constructions are cultural and therefore rooted in social practices and discourses; second, figurative expressions are common to everyday talk, constrain and enable thinking processes and construct social reality. Methodologically too, the article offers an interesting departure from the traditional studies of metaphor as the data cited are 'incidental' and natural, rather than elicited or experimental; the researcher's aim was not to study figurative language but it turned out to be ubiquitous in women's everyday talk. Hence, the present data strengthen Tannen's and Carter's work that creativity and figurative language are not exclusive to literary discourse but are part of everyday discourses. [Reprinted by permission of Sage Publications Ltd., copyright 2007.] (LLBA, Accession Number 200807068, (c) CSA [2008]. All rights reserved.)