Metaphors and conceptual structure

Yeshayahu Shen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The paper focuses on the relations between metaphor use and a particular kind of conceptual organization: taxonomic categorization. The introductory section reviews some recent studies suggesting that various aspects of the use of metaphorical mapping (in. e.g., metaphor identification, appreciation and development) are constrained by the structure of the taxonomic categories to which the concepts comprising the metaphor belong. However, most of these studies do not relate directly to a crucial question: what kind of conceptual structure is the 'product' of metaphor interpretation? The present paper develops a recent answer (made notably by Glucksberg and Keysar. 1990), namely, that metaphor consists of an ad hoc categorization of the concepts comprising the metaphor. Developing this view, the present paper suggests that some of the principles underlying metaphorical ad hoc categorization arc identical to the major principles underlying natural, common categorization. The paper focuses on principles and phenomena relating to two major aspects of categorization: (1) The internal, prototype structure of categories; (2) The basis of categorizing a set of objects into a category. Two experiments are described, which provide some empirical support for the proposal that these categorization principles equally apply to ad hoc, metaphorical categorization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1997


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