Publication details [#7054]

Lakoff, George. 1993. The contemporary theory of metaphor. In Gibbs, Raymond W., Jr. Metaphor and thought: The state of the art. In : 3–16. : 202–251. 50 pp.
Publication type
Article in book  
Publication language
Place, Publisher
Cambridge , UK: Cambridge University Press


George Lakoff, who is one of the cognitive linguistics' most influential exponents, and some of his colleagues (see, for example Lakoff-Johnson [1980] and Lakoff-Turner [1989]) extended Reddy's first intuitions by elaborating a sort of map of conceptual metaphors, explicitly considered "not just a matter of language, but of thought and reason" [p.208]. 'The contemporary theory of metaphor 'is a lucid explanation of the results obtained through the research directed by Lakoff. This essay, as Lakoff specifies, contradicts "much that appears in the others, many of which make certain assumptions that were widely taken for granted in 1977" [p.204]. These assumptions are a set of "traditional false assumptions" that come partly from the idea that "what is literal is not metaphorical" [p.204]. That is to say (1) everyday language is literal; (2) everything can be described and understood without using metaphors; (3) only the literal use can be true or false; (4) lexical definitions are literal; (5) the concepts used in grammar are all literal. Lakoff also shows that there are a great many irreducible metaphorical concepts in our everyday life, which function in a systematic way and are grounded in our physical and cultural experience. (Elisabetta Gola)