A PERSONAL REVIEW OF THE METAPHOR WORKSHOP HELD BY PROFESSOR GERARD STEEN (Belgrade, 26th–28th October 2015)
Written by Goran Petrović, PhD candidate
Perhaps the best way to begin with this review would be to state that Professor Steen’s metaphor workshop was both friendly and professional, to the delight of everyone who had the opportunity to attend it. I am very pleased to have been part of it, for, as I will shortly explain, the workshop did open new perspectives on what it means to be a metaphor scholar.
Before I commence describing how I experienced the above-said event, I believe I ought to mention that I was one of the youngest participants and therefore probably one of the least proficient metaphor scholars in the group. So, in order to avoid making any blunders, I chose to be a passive listener at an early stage of the workshop. As the workshop unfolded, I was gradually becoming “bolder” and more willing to engage in the already well-developed interaction between Professor Steen and all attendees.
As for the obtained benefits from the five sessions of this three-day workshop, I am glad to say that they were multiple. These include as follows: a) a clear insight into the three-dimensional model for metaphor (metaphor in thought, metaphor in language, and metaphor in communication), b) the best description of the MIP that I had encountered up to that point, c) a good distinction between the MIP and the more comprehensive MIPVU (the latter being completely novel for me), d) a detailed analysis of the Tipping Point Metaphor, e) an elaboration on the distinction among direct, indirect and implicit metaphors, f) marvellous explanations on how deliberate metaphors are distinguished from non-deliberate ones, g) an overview of the theory-constitutive vs. exegetical nature of novel, deliberate metaphors.
From the point of view of acquired competences, I think I will remember this workshop for the following four things I have learnt: 1) When it comes to metaphor identification, the best thing one can do is consult an authoritative dictionary. Too much reliance on your own intuition, the intuition of native speakers, or the history of English words may easily turn out to be misleading. By the way, placing all your trust in the dictionary figures as a sort of shortcut for determining the metaphorical (or non-metaphorical) nature of a linguistic expression because it effectively saves us from the vanity of being too self-confident about our scholarly aptitude. 2) Whenever you are in doubt whether a linguistic item is metaphorical or not, you should feel free to resort to the five-step metaphor identification method, which, being as mathematically logical as it is, assumes the role of counterbalancing our insufficiently refined intuitions. 3) Unlike non-deliberate metaphors, deliberate metaphors are used as perspective changers, meaning that the latter are usually employed with a clearly perceivable intention to make the language recipient view the notions manifested by means of such metaphors in ways previously unknown. 4) Deliberate metaphors seem to be endowed with a life-cycle, from being novel, to becoming commonly used, to eventually losing all their vitality.