Publication details [#2878]

Adamson, Tim, Greg Johnson, Tim Rohrer and Howard Lam. 1995. Metaphors we ought not live by: Rush Limbaugh in the age of cognitive science. URL
Publication type
Unpublished manuscript
Publication language
Place, Publisher


Rush Limbaugh is one of the most influential voices on the U.S. political scene of the early 90s. While many regard his voice as polemical and bombastic, he nevertheless has a primary role in formulating the metaphors which shape much of the 1994 Republican US Congressional policies. Though many dismiss his rhetoric as simplistic and intellectually facile, he clearly taps deep into the American psyche with his visceral language. Viewed from the perspective of metaphor analysis, Limbaugh's rhetoric is brilliantly constructed in its use of culturally entrenched metaphors, which resonate with the emotional feelings of his listeners and readers. In this paper, we investigate Limbaugh's use of metaphor in his recent book, 'The Way Things Ought To Be', using the tools of conceptual metaphor theory from cognitive linguistics. We sum up by arguing that Limbaugh's metaphors cohere in his theory of human nature and a vision of a society built around the traditional nuclear family. We conclude that liberals are not yet articulating their own version of human nature and offering some initial thoughts as to what that might entail. (Tim Rohrer)