Productive Figurative Communication: Conventional Metaphors Facilitate The Comprehension Of Related Novel Metaphors

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Journal Of Memory And Language


Three experiments explored whether conceptual mappings in conventional metaphors are productive, by testing whether the comprehension of novel metaphors was facilitated by first reading conceptually related conventional metaphors. The first experiment, a replication and extension of Keysar et al. [Keysar, B., Shen, Y., Glucksberg, S., Horton, W. (2000). Conventional language: How metaphorical is it? Journal of Memory and Language 43, 576–593] (Experiment 2), found no such facilitation; however, in the second experiment, upon re-designing and improving the stimulus materials, facilitation was demonstrated. In a final experiment, this facilitation was shown to be specific to the conceptual mappings involved. The authors argue that metaphor productivity provides a communicative advantage and that this may be sufficient to explain the clustering of metaphors into families noted by Lakoff and Johnson [Lakoff & Johnson, M. (1980a). The metaphorical structure of the human conceptual system. Cognitive Science 4, 195–208].


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