Publication details [#4070]

DeWick, Roberta and Tracy B. Henley. 1990. Metaphors we insult by. Language and Literature 10 (1/2) : 37–43. 7 pp.


DeWick and Tracy deal with insults within the framework of cognitive linguistics with its focus upon locating structuring metaphors within a given speaking situation. Subjects for this study were students drawn from a variety of psychology courses; they were given some time to compile an individual list of all the insults they could collect. The metaphoric analysis in the cognitive-linguistics mode (George Lakoff and Mark Johnson 1980) was employed in order to recover the natural categories that structured these insults and to determine what basic generative metaphors underpinned each of these categories. One of the results of this preliminary study is the additive nature of insults, i.e. insults most commonly are composed of elements from more than one category (TIME, AGE, ODOR, etc.). The data suggest that MIND/BRAIN, WASTE, BODY PARTS, PERSONALITY TRAITS and combinations thereof are the most common insult categories. (Rainer Schulze)