Publication details [#6175]

Ignatow, Gabriel. 2003. "Idea hamsters" on the "bleeding edge": Profane metaphors in high technology jargon. Proceedings of the 6th International Conference of Greek Linguistics 31 (1) : 1–22. 22 pp.
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In this paper, I contend that symbols of the profane (cf., Durkheim, Emile, 1965 [1915]) continue to be powerful cultural elements that animate and order modern discourses and moral worlds and that scholarly understanding of the culture of high technology can be enriched through analysis of profane symbols. I demonstrate this through a metaphoric content analysis of the 1960s-1990s American high technology industry and show that (1) profane metaphors are widespread in high technology jargon as compared to the jargons of other occupations; (2) profane metaphors in high tech jargon have increased over the last three decades with growth of the high tech industry; and (3) these profane metaphors are thematically ordered such that they tend to signify threats to technological progress, while technology itself is signified through morally benign metaphors. I argue that these metaphors have proliferated in the high technology and much less so in other occupations, because they buttress a moral worldview that makes technological innovations meaningful to their creators. (LLBA 2003, vol. 37, n. 4)