[Read full-text: How linguistic structure influences metaphoric meaning]
This paper argues that two properties of the linguistic structure of an utterance influence and partially determine whether the utterance has a metaphoric meaning that results in a stable interpretation: (i) degree of metaphoricity and (ii) degree of metaphoric saturation. A majority of metaphoric utterances in a corpus study (66%) were unsaturated, low metaphoricity utterances that behave as expected by Max Black and the cognitive linguistics paradigm. However, a significant minority (34%) of the metaphoric utterances were saturated or high metaphoricity utterances that behave partially as expected by Donald Davidson and others working in his tradition. This suggests that the direct and indirect interpretation views of metaphor are not incompatible but apply to different sub-groups of metaphoric utterances. The paper then constructs a model of metaphoric meaning that makes falsifiable predictions about the interpretations of metaphoric utterances in order to provide further evidence that unsaturated, low metaphoricity utterances have stable interpretations. This research provides both converging evidence for the cognitive linguistic view of metaphor and also a framework for limiting its scope to most, but not all, metaphoric utterances.