Cognitive constraints on directionality in the semantic structure of poetic vs. non-poetic metaphors

Yeshayahu Shen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations

Abstract

The paper focuses on directionality in the semantic structure of poetic vs. non-poetic metaphors. The first question addressed by the paper is: What are the constraints on mapping in the case of non-poetic metaphors (i.e., conventional metaphors, and/or artificial metaphors invented specifically for psychological tests). This question is discussed in section 2. Two major constraints are introduced to which non-poetic metaphors conform regarding their directionality. The second question pertains to poetic metaphors: Do poetic metaphors equally respect the above constraints? The importance of this issue stems from the widely held belief among students of literature and related disciplines that poetic language deviates from the rules underlying standard, non-poetic language. On the basis of a large scale analysis of literary metaphorical comparisons, the paper suggests that, contrary to prevailing views among students of literature, poetic metaphors do respect the above constraints in the same manner as their non-poetic counterparts. The Gestaltian 'Cognitive reference point' account is invoked to explain this finding, and is discussed in some detail.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-274
Number of pages20
JournalPoetics
Volume23
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1995

Funding

FundersFunder number
Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities

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