Publication details [#8261]

Nerlich, Brigitte, David D. Clarke and Robert Dingwall. 2000. Clones and crops: The use of stock characters and word play in two debates about bioengineering. Metaphor and Symbol 15 (4) : 223–239. 17 pp.


Metaphors used in news reports and on the Internet, such as "cloned organs are farmed", "genetically modified plants are killers", and so on, can be grouped or classified into higher order metaphors such as "CLONES ARE PLANTS" and "PLANTS ARE HUMANS". But reports on cloning and genetically modified (GM) plants use more than metaphors. We claim that cloning often was debated in terms of stock characters, such as Frankenstein's monster, taken from fictional accounts of cloning, whereas GM foods and crops often were discussed with rhetorical flourishes on idiomatic or familiar phrases, such as seeds of disaster. There are many cases in fiction of clones or single individuals as artificial persons, whereas GM plants are rare. We suggest that to express ideas that are literal, in the relative absence of familiar stock characters or personifications (characters that could be used in metaphors), the relevant thoughts are expressed using other familiar items, such as food-related book or film titles, idioms, and sayings. Our argument is supported with lists of examples collected from British newspapers and from Web sites. (Brigitte Nerlich, David Clarke, and Robert Dingwall)