• Prompts for Metaphors We Live By (due end of day Aug 31)

Get active with the handout for this text: underline key passages, circle key terms and define them in the margin, put a question mark beside anything that’s confusing (or whatever your usual active reading practices are). We’ll discuss your notes in class and I’ll ask that you turn in the hard copy of this text with your critical reading notes. (Please put your name at the top for this reason.)

  1. How would you have defined metaphor before reading this text?
  2. Comment on this passage from page 3: “We have found…that metaphor is pervasive in everyday life, not just in language but in thought and action. Our ordinary conceptual system, in terms of which we both think and act, is fundamentally metaphorical in nature.” What do they mean by this?
  3. What is a key sentence, passage, or idea from this text you’d pick to discuss in class?
  4. What is one question this reading raises for you that you’d pick to discuss in class?

12 thoughts on “• Prompts for Metaphors We Live By (due end of day Aug 31)

  1. 1- Before reading this text, I would have defined metaphor as a literary device that is used to make a comparison.

    2- I think they mean that the human mind automatically uses categorization and comparison to help us make sense of new things.

    3- “The essence of metaphor is understanding and experiencing one kind of thing in terms of another” (pg. 5). I found this sentence interesting because every person’s “another” can vary from one another. Comparisons are not always consistent across people.

    4- One questions I would like to discuss is, “Can one’s interpretation of a situation cause them to compare it to something different than what another’s perspective may?”

  2. 1. I originally defined a metaphor as a common and simple idea representing a more complex idea in a more simplified way.
    2. The authors mean that metaphors as simplifying tools in everyday language are fundamentally utilized in any given society. Even the system we use to perceive thoughts are understood in linguistic vessels, in metaphors.
    3. I would choose to discuss the fundamental need in language for metaphors.
    4. I must question to see how the ideas represented in this piece apply to modern life.

  3. 1. I would have defined “metaphor” as a figurative simple way to express something that I’m interested to be understood by the person I’m speaking to.
    2. My understanding is that the author explains how words and actions go “hand by hand”. Metaphors help us to put into words an idea, which it is easier to explain it if we describe it as actions.
    3. “Argument is war”, it was an eye opener for me, since it gave a detailed explanation of a simple word, but it makes lots of sense the way we express ourselves when we get into an argument.
    4. Maybe a social experiment, for how long can we talk without the use of metaphors? 🙂

  4. A metaphor was always a way to paraphrase something I talk about, to say something in a different way that is more understandable by the listener ot reader.

    While I was reading about metaphor as not just a part of language but a part of thoughts I was highly surprized, especially surprized that I agree with the author. I didn’t realize before that I think using metaphors everyday.

    Key sentence – one about ‘conduit metaphor’: The speaker puts ideas into words and sends them to a hearer who takes the idea out of the word.

    The question I though about is a possibility of existence of the other cultures that may think one way about things we use to think another way.

  5. 1. A metaphor is a type of language in which one thing is described as another thing.
    2. The author is saying that in life that metaphors are used in daily life. Metaphors are not just a literary term but it is more than that. People use metaphors without realizing it. In society we are surrounded by metaphors and don’t even realize that they’re there.
    3. “The meaning is right there in the words…” (pg 12)

  6. 1. I would have defined metaphor as a “seemingly unrelated story or reference designed to elicit a particular emotion or reaction in the recipient.” I’d mention isomorphic metaphors, with direct one-to-one relationships. I’d also mention homomorphic metaphors, where the relationships are indirect and unclear, but the central values or motivations remain.

    2. We tend to think and process our world in words, sounds, pictures, feelings and other physical sensations. We do this to make better sense of the input as we use familiar and useful sorting patterns. A single word will likely evoke a feeling, sound, picture or perhaps all of them. Yet that word, barring some exceptions, has no resemblance or correlation to the feeling, sound, or picture. So at the smallest level, even one word might be thought of as a metaphor for an entire experience. These metaphors lead back to more thoughts and words, creating a continuous loop.

    3. “In allowing us to focus on one aspect of the concept, a metaphorical concept can keep us from focusing on other aspects of that concept that are inconsistent with that metaphor.”

    4. I’d like to discuss some practical examples of the above quotation. How can we preserve the useful metaphor and either alter it in some way, or make a fluid transition, so that no worthwhile aspects of that metaphorical concept are lost?

  7. 1. Before reading this text I would defined a metaphor as a way to speak, so that our language seems more emphasize. For example in the country where I am from we use the phrase “golden hands” when we want to express that we value someone’s professional skills with their hands. For many people metaphorical expressions is something used by poets or writers, but only a few people are aware that we use mataphors in our every day communication.
    2. The author shows us that people do not use metaphors only in everyday conversation just as part of literary language, but also in our minds.We are using metaphors without even realizing we are using them. In other words, the author tells us that metaphors are our natural way of thinking and we cannot ignore metaphors in our common language.
    3. I think that the key sentence is “The essence of metaphor is understanding and experiencing one kind of thing in terms of another.”
    4. How would it change our daily conversation without being able to use metaphors?

  8. 1. -saying “something”, without really saying “that thing”.

    2. -I believe that they are trying to tell the reader that metaphors are evident all around us but we do not realize. When we think we put everything into a context, which can be completely different from our situation, but we do this naturally, without realizing that we are using metaphor. A good example of this was when the writers explained the concept of how we perceive and argument as war. While an argument and a war are worlds apart, when we think of an argument, we have an opponent, one person is victorious, you choose what your strengths are and try to capitalize on them, all characteristics of war. Simple stated I believe the writer is telling us that when we think we actually put things in a perspective which makes it easier for us to imagine it, and we do this process without realizing how metaphoric we are built to act.

    3. -“Metaphor is for most people a device of the poetic imagination and the rhetorical flourish—a mater of extraordinary rather than ordinary language.” (pg. 3)

    4. -How many people actually realize that us as humans are built to be such metaphoric machines?

  9. 1. I would google for Merriam Webster’s definition of metaphor:
    : a word or phrase for one thing that is used to refer to another thing in order to show or suggest that they are similar
    : an object, activity, or idea that is used as a symbol of something else

    2. I have interpreted this quote to mean that:
    Metaphors are compressed forms of information that everyone agrees on. The collection of metaphor represents a large portion of Common Sense. We act on this Common Sense.

    3. “In our culture TIME IS MONEY…”(Lakoff,Johnson 8)

    4. How does Procrastination fit into this “culture?”
    *thinking about opportunity cost here

  10. I would have defined metaphors as a creative tool we use to convey messages in a non literal way. Prior to the reading, I had never realized that the integration of metaphors is far from intentional and so prevalent in the way we communicate and perceive language. We treat concepts such as arguments, time and ideas as having tangible characteristics and structures the way we use them to get a point across.

    “The essence of metaphor is understanding and experiencing one kind of thing in terms of another.” – On paper, this would seem like a way of making the process of communicating somewhat convoluted, but in everyday practices and social norms, resisting our inherently metaphorical thought process would make me the black sheep.

    Why does this writer assume the reader must “imagine” a culture where arguments are not attributed to war like tendencies? – I simply call this the art of discussion which I consider to be neutral and friendly whereas the idea of arguing seems to have a negative connotation attached to it.

  11. 1. I saw metaphors like the majority of people: figures of speech that are using imagery to give a better understanding of an idea. I also simply saw it at a poetic art form that the writer of any text, article, song, etc. uses to get a point across in a prettier way.

    2. The only way I can explain this passage is by providing another example of how one simple metaphor can affect an entire concept, through terminology, thought and action.

    “He is a star.”
    This metaphor affects the language surrounding it:
    He’s rising to the top.
    She is really shining on stage.
    His musical career reached new heights.
    They are glowing on the red carpet.

    Because we think that reaching literal stars is impossible in one’s lifetime, our society acts as though famous people are unreachable – hence, fans go crazy when they see their favorite “star”.

    3. “… metaphor is not just a matter of language. (…) on the contrary, human thought processes are largely metaphorical”. (see page 6)

    4. How do different cultures affect metaphorical concepts? (see page 9)

    • 1. A metaphor is a literary term for a comparison without using the words like or as.
      2. This quote confused me so I interpreted it as saying that everything we do is a metaphor, as in behind everything we do or say there is always another meaning.
      3.”Time in our culture is a valuable commodity.” This quote speaks to me because I feel there is never enough time and I hate to waste it.
      4. This passage makes me question how we would speak and communicate without basic literary elements such as metaphors. How would it be to communicate with people if everyone meant exactly what they said and only spoke literally?

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