Publication details [#4453]

Fainsilber, Lynn and Andrew Ortony. 1987. Metaphorical uses of language in the expression of emotions. Bakhtiniana: Revista de Estudos do Discurso 2 (4) : 239–250. 12 pp.


Two hypotheses concerning the function of metaphor production were examined in participants' descriptions of instances of emotional states and events. Participants provided verbal descriptions of emotional states they had experienced and of actions in which they had engaged as they experienced those states. Results showed that descriptions of emotional states contained more metaphorical language than did descriptions of behaviors. This is interpreted as supporting the hypothesis that an important function of metaphorical language is to permit the expression of that which is difficult to express using literal language alone. The results also indicated that intense emotions led to greater metaphor use than mild emotions for descriptions of feeling states but not for descriptions of actions associated with emotions. This result was interpreted as consistent with the view that metaphors provide a particularly vivid form of description. (Cathy Wheeler)