Publication details [#13642]

Gibbs, Jr., Raymond W. 2015. Do pragmatic signals affect conventional metaphor understanding? A failed test of deliberate metaphor theory. Journal of Pragmatics 90 : 77–87. 11 pp.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
Amsterdam: Elsevier


Different signals, or tuning devices, in language, including certain discourse markers, comparatives, intensifiers and semantic meta- language, sometimes accompany verbal metaphors. Some scholars have claimed that these signals give evidence of ‘‘deliberate metaphor’’ use on the part of speakers and writers. So, understanding these particular uses of metaphor requires people to infer deliberation, which leads them to pay greater notice to these figures and enhances their understanding of the cross-domain mappings motivating metaphorical utterances. Many linguistic analyses argue that deliberate metaphor is a critical part of metaphor use, yet no empirical study has explored whether people really infer greater deliberation and cross-domain mappings when encountering so-called pragmatic signals of metaphor. The present study tested this idea and did not find evidence in support of the deliberate metaphor proposal. This conclusion raises serious doubts about the psychological validity of the idea that some metaphors are produced and understood as being deliberate.