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The Book of Na'Lon

or rather, Inane Ramblings of an Expatriot

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Why I love studying language comprehension...
Here's a quote from one of the papers I have been reading while preparing for tomorrow's lecture:

"We began with the hypothesis that interpreting a metaphor such as Lawyers are sharks, involved enhancing attributes of the metaphor's vehicle sharks, that are common to the metaphor topic, lawyers. So, interpreting the metaphor Lawyers are sharks, would result in enhancement of shark attributes, such as tenacity, ferocity and aggressiveness. [You would also need to suppress] the attributes of the metaphor's vehicle that are not appropriate to [...] a metaphorical interpretation."

You do? Really? And there was me imagining lawyers with big pointy teeth and fins...

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Or sharks with feet and briefcases :) This reminds me of the project management literature I am obliged to read, which frequently mentions stakeholders, so that I imagine Buffy the Vampire Slayer or the little Argh cartoon from the end credits, roaming around meetings and reading reports. Then the book went on to urge the cultivation of "allies and champions", adding horses, heraldic shields and jousting regalia to my mental image.

Teehee. This management lit sounds like a perfect example of metaphor use in 'normal' language use!

It's taken me three goes to understand that paragraph. :o

It is full of jargon. I think it took me two goes and it's supposed to be in my field. :-o

The sad thing is that I feel that sharks actually suffer from this metaphor and are regarded as "scummy" life forms, rather than elegant and sophisticated and well engineered thingies.

Ah, but that would imply an interpretation of sharks as 'scummy'. In the example I came across today, the facets of shark-hood that were alluded to were making out both sharks and lawyers to be potentially admirable -- what with tenacity and ferocity. Just depends on whether you think either of those make someone a scummy creature. ;-)

But I do see where you are coming from.

I've never associated lawyers with tenacity and ferocity though. I assumed the facet of lawyerhood and sharkhood at the heart of the metaphor was greed/feeding frenzy/drawn to blood. If I understood the paragraph, this is something to do with the point being made.

Again an assumption, which links in with the point that my researchwas relating to: to understand metaphors you need to have a common frame of reference and establishing this isn't as easy as on might think.

The attributes that were explicitly mentioned in connection with the shark/lawyers metaphor are not those you refer to, but are those that I have cited above.

The point that I was making was that I was amused by the image of lawyers with pointy teeth.

Make of that what you will. :-)

Interesting. I always associated the shark/lawyer metaphore with viciousness/amorality.

We think we are all speaking the same language, but we're not!

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