Gradient Semantic Intuitions of Metaphoric Expressions

Dunn, J. (2011). “Gradient Semantic Intuitions of Metaphoric Expressions.” Metaphor & Symbol, 26(1): 53-67.

Abstract. Metaphoric expressions are not all equal, in the sense that some are intuitively more or less metaphoric than others. Part of this intuition is influenced by the underlying metaphor, but another part is influenced by the linguistic expression which carries that metaphor. This paper puts forward a system, first, of dividing the two important elements which contribute to gradient intuitions of metaphoricity. These are (1) the density of the metaphor in the surface semantic content of the expression and (2) elements of the relationship between source and target in the underlying metaphor. Second, the paper puts forward a system for measuring the overall metaphoricity of an expression. This is a comparative system which can replicate intuitions that any two expressions have either equal or varying degrees of metaphoricity. The most interesting conclusion which can be drawn from intuitions of metaphoricity is that there are multiple factors with equal influence on metaphoricity. These factors can create conspiracies which disguise the strength of the underlying metaphor.

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