17 April – Simeon Lahaije

In the eye of the beholder

Metaphors are very common in our everyday speech, appearing ‘all over the place’, yet we do not seem to cognitively process all linguistically identified metaphors as actual metaphors. This is what is called the “paradox of metaphor”. A proposed solution to this paradox is adding a third dimension of communication to the two-dimensional (thought and language) model of metaphor, as outlined in Deliberate Metaphor Theory (DMT). The study we present here looks into the cognitive processing of deliberate metaphors through eye-tracking and memory recall, by a robust set-up that can easily be reapplied to other metaphors and languages. Results confirm a cognitive demarcation between non-deliberate and deliberate metaphors, and thereby give insight into how deliberate metaphors are processed. These results provide interesting new possibilities for future studies. Based on these results, suggestions for metaphor theory in general and DMT in particular are provided.