Publication details [#9698]

Schilperoord, Joost, Alfons Maes, Hans Hoeken, Margot Van Mulken, et al., Wilbert Spooren and Gerard J. Steen. 2007. On the multimodal nature of metaphor.
Publication type
Unpublished manuscript
Publication language
Place, Publisher
Tilburg, Netherlands


(Introduction) Let us start by making two general assumptions. First, metaphor is a conceptual phenomenon. It is about understanding one (abstract) concept in terms of another (concrete) concept, and it lies at the heart of how humans experience and understand concepts. Conceptually speaking, a metaphor is a non literal similarity between two concepts or senses: A IS B. Because of its conceptual nature, metaphor may be seen as neutral with regard to its mode of expression. Metaphoric conceptualization can, in principle, thus be triggered by different types of modalities, such as language, visuals, film, gesture or music, or combinations thereof. Second, the human cognitive system has specialized areas for processing verbal, visual and other kinds of information (e.g., Jackendoff, 2002; Marr, 1982). The end goal of such processes is making sense of what we see, read, feel or hear. This entails that people build a conceptual representation of the information presented to them, a process that is strongly guided by prior knowledge (recognition). However, the processes that result in such conceptual representations will differ from each other, both in terms of the types of mental information and in terms of the type of processes involved. This is why we may speak, for example, about specialized systems for processing visual information on the one hand, and verbal information on the other. Modern cognitive theories like Jackendoff (2002) depart from a three-way model of information processes: the message itself (atomic units, means of combining them), the cognitive processes involved in comprehending the message and the conceptual structures that result from these processes. The first two aspects are believed to be modality-specific, whereas the latter (conceptual structures) is assumed to be (at least partly) neutral with respect to input modality. In other words, if the concept [BED] is activated (attended upon), this may be the result of seeing a bed, reading the word {bed}, or thinking about that concept. (Joost Schilperoord, Fons Maes, Hans Hoeken, Margot van Mulken, Wilbert Spooren, Gerard Steen)