Publication details [#5034]

Gibbs, Raymond W., Jr. 1993. Process and product in making sense of tropes. In Gibbs, Raymond W., Jr. Metaphor and thought: The state of the art. In : 3–16. : 252–276. 25 pp.
Publication type
Article in book  
Publication language
Place, Publisher
Cambridge , UK: Cambridge University Press


A view that is not restricted to metaphors, but also encloses some other type of non literal uses (for instance metonymy, irony, oxymoron and idioms) is given by Raymond W. Gibbs in 'Process and products in making sense of tropes'. Gibbs refers to pragmatic knowledge together with the conceptual knowledge involved in figuration processes. Gibbs's essay is based, like Lakoff's, on studies carried out after 1977. This raises difficulties with traditional theories of tropes. In the case at hand, the controversial idea is the so-called "two stage" theory, according to which there is always a first, literal interpretation of a sentence, and the metaphorical one only in a second stage. But, Gibbs claims, some tropes are understood before their literal meaning is analysed, without any violation of semantics rules or principles of communication. This mistaken theory springs from the fact that many scholars "confuse the process and the products of linguistic understanding" [p.255], and use "evidence about the earliest temporal moments of trope understanding to say much about the later products of understanding" [p.256]. (Elisabetta Gola)