Miriam Taverniers
Table of contents

Metaphor has been regarded as a special phenomenon of language at least since the term was coined in ancient Greece. Metaphora is derived from meta-, ‘beyond’ and phora, which is derived from pherein, ‘to carry’. In the original, etymological sense meta–phor refers to a kind of movement from one thing to another. The idea that two aspects are involved in metaphor has remained important in many subsequent theories, and is often explicitly formulated in terms of a ‘from … to…’ expression. Although it is in principle impossible to give even a quasi theory-neutral definition, metaphor can be defined in very general terms as a way of expression, in language or any other semiotic system, in which one ‘meaning’ or ‘thing’ is described as or looked upon in terms of another ‘meaning’ or ‘thing’. For instance, in the following example, the dismissal of employees is described as an action of sweeping them out:

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