Paula Pérez-Sobrino starts EMMA project

On October 5, 2015, dr. Paula Pérez-Sobrino will start her Marie Curie project: EMMA.

EMMA (European Multimodal Metaphor in Advertising) aims to redress the combination of metaphor and metonymy in multimodal settings (such as advertising) by testing figurative complexity and emotions, the impact of these on comprehension, accuracy of interpretation and advertising effectiveness. This project involves an interdisciplinary study that combines cognitive and physiological psychology with linguistic and marketing interpretations. A mixed-methods approach of lab experiments and qualitative inquiry will assess the speed and depth of comprehension, the perceived appeal, and the physiological effect of static and video advertisements on participants from three linguistic and cultural backgrounds (English, Spanish, and Chinese). If advertisers, charities and NGOs target, and are sensitive to, linguistic and cultural differences in metaphors, local and international communities can benefit from specific, appropriate and ethical advertising.

This project is based at the University of Birmingham and will run for two years.


  • Paula Pérez-Sobrino (Research Fellow, Department of English Language and Applied Linguistics): expertise on interactional patterns between multimodal metaphor and metonymy.
  • Jeannette Littlemore (Principal Investigator, Department of English Language and Applied Linguistics): expertise on metaphor, cross-linguistic variation and linguistic analysis.
  • David Houghton (Co-Investigator, Department of Marketing, Birmingham Business School): expertise on marketing, viralisation, and experimental experience.

Partner institutions


  • Metaphor Lab at the University of Amsterdam & Free University of Amsterdam, (Amsterdam, The Netherlands): Prof Gerard Steen and Dr Charles Forceville will provide their expertise in multimodal metaphor identification analysis. Likewise, EMMA will establish a connection with Marianna Bolognesi (Marie Curie fellow), who coordinates the annotation of Vismet, the first broad scale corpus of visual metaphors) in order to coordinate the joint organisation of workshops, conference panels, and training sessions. The Metaphor Lab will provide access to data and contact with people working in advertising both in the public and private.
  • University of Nottingham-Ningbo (Ningbo, China): Dr Margaret Dowens will bring her expertise on psyhcolinguistics and will provide facilities for the testing Chinese participants.
  • University of La Rioja (Logroño, Spain): Prof. Ruiz de Mendoza and Dr. Lorena Pérez Hernández will assess the project on theoretical issues. Additionally, they will provide facilities for the testing Chinese participants.


EMMA will get real by collaborating with the private sector.

Three advertising companies will posit real world problems and needs. The aim beneath these collaborations is to achieve a more down-to-earth, skilled, and business-oriented analysis and consideration of the data.

  • Publicis Chemistry London (
  • VCCP Spain (
  • (

Review of Metaphor in Psychotherapy

Wen Ma and Yijin Wu of the School of Foreign Languages and Literature, Shandong University, P.R. China, reviewed Metaphor in Psychotherapy: A Descriptive and Prescriptive Analysis ( 2013) by Dennis Tay. This book is part of the book series Metaphor in Language, Cognition, and Communication.

You can read the review here!

Blog by Gudrun Reijnierse from Lancaster

Come rain or shine… 3 months of British weather (and work)

For the past three months, I’ve been working on my PhD thesis at Lancaster University as a visiting researcher. During this stay, not a single day passed that I did not think or talk about the weather, and as it happens, the state of the Lancastrian weather seems to almost perfectly coincide with important academic moments during my visit.

In the first month of my stay, I sent a grey and rainy picture of Lancaster campus to a friend. ‘See, I told you’, she replied, ‘why would you go to rainy England if you can also go to sunny Santa Barbara?!?’ My friend’s response made me ask myself: why did I come to Lancaster, other than to simply ‘work on my thesis’? As a result, I spent a lot of time rethinking my PhD project and my approach to the whole matter. The weather remained grey and rainy, and with only a year left before the end of my project, I wasn’t sure (anymore) whether my approach was actually going to work…

Over the course of my visit, the weather steadily improved. In the second month of my stay, rainy days – during which I struggled with the complex theoretical aspects of my project – alternated with sunny days – during which I found even more interesting manifestations of metaphor in my corpus than I already had. As time passed by, I had many fruitful and insightful discussions with various people, both in Lancaster and back home, and things started to fall (back) into place.

Sometime during my third month in the UK, Lancaster ‘suffered’ from a heatwave, with temperatures reaching an ‘amazing’ 27 (!!) degrees. People wouldn’t stop talking about how summer had finally arrived. And yet again, the weather perfectly reflected what happened in academic terms: The heat wave coincided with the visit of a friend whose PhD project is similar to mine, and after some intense discussions, for a moment I felt like we could solve all problems in the world (of metaphor) by simply slightly adjusting my perspective on the whole matter…

Of course, the heatwave only lasted for a few days. And of course, the feeling of invincibility was replaced by uncertainties about the adjusted approach. However, the long-term weather forecast for Amsterdam looks promising, and I am looking forward to coming back home, with a backpack full of inspiration and ‘the summer in my head’ 🙂

Lancaster University.

Lancaster University.

Invited talk by Ken McRae

Friday 11 September, 15:00-17.00, Metaphor Lab Amsterdam and the CogVim project organize an invited talk by prof. Ken McRae (Department of Psychology, and Brain & Mind Institute, University of Western Ontario, Canada). His talk will be entitled ‘The Importance of Event Knowledge in the Organization and Structure of Semantic Memory’.

University of Amsterdam
P.C. Hoofthuis, Room 1.04
Spuistraat 134, Amsterdam

If you would like to attend, please register by sending an e-mail to

The lecture will be recorded! So if you can’t make it to the event you’ll be able to watch it online afterwards:

New study on irony in Human Communication Research

Christian Burgers, Camiel Beukeboom, Martinke Kelder and Martine Peeters published their article “How sports fans forge intergroup competition through language: The case of verbal ironyin the July 2015 issue of Human Communication Research. This is the abstract of their study:

In situations with rival groups, people strategically use language to strengthen group identity and foster intergroup competition. We distinguished two communication mechanisms to accomplish this: (a) linguistic aggression toward out-group members, (b) communicating group expectancies. We contrasted these mechanisms across 2 experiments by studying verbal irony. Experiment 1 targeted speaker behavior and showed that Dutch soccer fans found irony more appropriate to comment on out-group (vs. in-group) members, regardless of behavioral valence. Experiment 2 demonstrated differential inferences from irony by neutral observers: Fans using ironic comments about competent (vs. incompetent) behavior were seen more as out-group and less as in-group members. Our experiments demonstrated a communication asymmetry between speaker behavior and addressee inferences.

Volume 3 of Metaphor in Language, Cognition and Communication is out

The third volume of the book series ‘Metaphor in Language, Cognition and Communication’ is out! The book is entitled ‘Elicited Metaphor Analysis in Educational Discourse’ and is edited by Wan Wan and Graham Low (National Hua qiao University / University of York).

The ability to recognise, discuss and evaluate one’s educational beliefs and working practices in metaphoric terms has for several years been seen as a highly valuable tool for increasing self-awareness, facilitating learning (or teaching), and/or predicting behaviour. This is the first edited book solely devoted to the topic of researching elicited metaphor in education, and brings together key researchers from China, Poland, Puerto Rico, South America, UK and USA. The 12 chapters involve overviews and state-of-the-art articles, articles focussing on methodology and validation, as well as reflections on the effectiveness of techniques and research reports of recent empirical studies. The bulk of the articles relate to literacy (L1 and L2) and teacher education, but science education is also addressed. The book offers useful models for academics, professionals and PhD students in these areas, and provides solutions for improving the validity of elicited metaphor techniques in educational research.

Metaphor Lab Amsterdam Summer School 2015: a report

Last week, from Sunday evening 14 June until Friday evening 19 June, 31 PhD students and post doc researchers from all over the world attended the Metaphor Lab Amsterdam Summer School “Methods for Metaphor Identification and Analysis”. It was an intense and inspiring week, working together on metaphors in both language and images. Participants used identification procedures and discussed the theory on metaphor, under the supervision of Gerard Steen, Susan Nacey and Marianna Bolognesi. They trained the participants in various methods of metaphor identification and analysis that they can now apply in their own work. Of course, there was also time for lunch, dinner, drinks and metaphors in social interaction! At the end of the week, it was hard to say goodbye. Fortunately, we are planning on getting back together next year, during the Metaphor Lab Amsterdam Summer School 2016!

We want to thank the Network Institute, the Amsterdam Center for Language and Communication and John Benjamins Publishing Company for sponsoring this unique event.

 “It really broadened my horizon on metaphor research”

  “This has been an intellectually and socially rewarding week”

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