Publication details [#3411]

Charteris-Black, Jonathan. 2004. Why "an angel rides in the whirlwind and directs the storm": A corpus-based comparative study of metaphor in British and American political discourse. Babel A.F.I.A.L.: Aspectos de filología inglesa y alemana 49 : 133–150. 18 pp.


This paper compares choice of metaphor in two political corpora: the Inaugural speeches of American Presidents and party political manifestos of two British political parties during 1974-1997. Initially metaphors are classified according to their source domain; they are then analysed from a cognitive semantic approach. The major findings are that metaphors from the domains of conflict, journeys and building are common to both corpora. However, the British corpus includes metaphors that draw on the source domain of plants whereas the American corpus contains metaphors that draw on source domains such as fire and light and the physical environment that do not occur in the British corpus. These variations suggest differences in metaphors between British and American political discourse and provide insight into cultural differences. The cognitive analysis reveals the importance of the conceptual metaphors POLITICS IS CONFLICT, PURPOSEFUL SOCIAL ACTIVITY IS TRAVELLING ALONG A PATH TOWARD A DESTINATION and A WORTHWHILE ACTIVITY IS A BUILDING in both corpora. However, SOCIAL PURIFICATION IS HEAT and A SOCIAL CONDITION IS A WEATHER CONDITION occur only in the American corpus. There is some evidence that British political discourse has borrowed metaphors based on the concept POLITICS IS RELIGION from American political discourse. (Jonathan Charteris-Black)