Imposed Metaphoricity

Roy Porat*, Yeshayahu Shen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


We introduce a hitherto overlooked phenomenon in the cognitive and psycholinguistic study of metaphors that we termed imposed metaphoricity. We propose that a metaphorical reading can be imposed on a given expression regardless of its semantic content. We suggest that there is a class of constructions (e.g., this X is such a Y or what a Y this X is) that impose metaphorical interpretation. We present findings from three experiments and from corpus-based analyses that support our proposal. Experiments 1–2 compared interpretations of expressions that can have both a literal and a metaphorical meaning (e.g., this book is an encyclopedia) when embedded in a standard metaphorical form and in a form that imposes metaphoricity. In Experiment 3 we examine reaction time to such forms in an attempt to identify interference of form with early metaphorical processing. Two corpus-based analyses characterize the use of these two metaphorical constructions in natural language. We discuss the independence of metaphoricity from semantics, as demonstrated by forms that impose metaphorical interpretations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-94
Number of pages18
JournalMetaphor and Symbol
Issue number2
StatePublished - 3 Apr 2015


FundersFunder number
Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities
Israel Science Foundation
Tel Aviv University


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