'Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter': Synaesthetic metaphors and cognition

Yeshayahu Shen, Ravid Aisenman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Synaesthetic metaphors exhibit a robust, universal, tendency to use the 'lower-to-higher' structure more frequently than the inverse one. This robust pattern was found across genres (poetic and non-poetic discourse), language boundaries (e.g. English, Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese and Indonesian) and historical periods. A cognitive account of this pattern is introduced, according to which this lower-to-higher mapping reflects a cognitively simpler and more basic directionality than the inverse one. Several predictions that follow from this account were tested, using various psychological measures (recall, difficulty in context generation, and naturalness judgments). In accordance with the present account, it was found that the lower-to-higher structure is judged as more natural than its inverse, is better recalled and is judged as easier to construct a context for.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-121
Number of pages15
JournalLanguage and Literature
Volume17
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2008

Keywords

  • Cognitive metaphor
  • Directionality
  • Figurative language
  • Synaesthesia

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