Principles of metaphor interpretation and the notion of 'domain': A proposal for a hybrid model

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Metaphor is widely viewed as the (selective) mapping of properties from one conceptual domain (the 'source') onto another (the 'target'). Two different models of metaphor comprehension are distinguished with respect to this characterization of metaphors: the 'domain-as-a-schema' model, and the 'domain-as-a-taxonomic category' model. These models differ radically from each other with respect to: 1. Their representational assumptions regarding the way knowledge is organized and represented in memory, and 2. Their interpretation principles, namely, the connectivity vs. diagnosticity principles. On the basis of several counter-examples, it is argued that neither model is sufficient to account for certain phenomena regarding metaphor interpretation. As an alternative, a 'hybrid model' of metaphor comprehension is outlined. While preserving the explanatory power of each of the other two models, the 'hybrid model' is capable of accounting for those counter-examples. A multiple-stage experiment is described, which provides some initial empirical support for the hybrid model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1631-1653
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2 Nov 1999


  • Category
  • Connectivity
  • Diagnosticity
  • Metaphor
  • Metaphor comprehension
  • Schema


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