Metaphors: A Way to Think and Reason About Our Lives Essay

Metaphors: A Way to Think and Reason About Our Lives Essay

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According to Professor George Lakoff, metaphors are a way to think and reason about life. They are not a unique way to speak about it because they are a reflection of our thought process (1986). This became immediately apparent to me when I began looking for metaphors commonly used. It took some time to find any because they were pervasive of my thought system that I did not even notice many ordinary phrases around me were metaphors. Those phrases were not “poetic or rhetorical” way of talking, but an ordinary way to express my thoughts and speak about my view of the world. The metaphor that came up several times on my search was “deep roots.” This metaphor allows us to think about life in a certain way and it also holds certain implication for our interpersonal communication.
While catching up on the world news, I came across a story about Shakila, a young Afghanistan girl. She was kidnapped at the young age of eight and held for two years (she managed to escape) as a form of repayment for the wrong her family elder committed. This tradition known as baad or baadi was a “deeply rooted cultural practice” in the country (Rubin, 2012, p. A1). This was an insightful way to talk about a long held tradition. How did this phrase make sense even when the article was not even talking about growing plants or even their root system? Metaphors create meaning by conveying an experience in a domain through understanding of another domain. The experience is “map[ped] from a source domain to a target domain” (Lakoff, 1986, p. 216). For the metaphor, deep roots, the source domain is roots while the target domain is history. The knowledge we have about each domain and their corresponding elements allows us to assemble a metaphor.
Knowledge we...

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...e and sustained existence. An entity that will be planted is one that will establish itself. This metaphor has the power to influence our thoughts because they are a way to think and see the world. They gear our thoughts in a certain direction while hindering it in others. The phrase “deeply rooted” is not figure of speech, but a way of thinking about roots as history.

Brown, P. (2012, October 10). When the uprooted put down roots. The New York Times, p. A12.
Joseph Rowntree Foundation (2011, September 11). New study uncovers 'deep roots' of
homelessness. Retrieved February 22, 2012, from
Lakeoff, G. (1986). A figure of thought. Metaphor and Symbolic Activity, 1(3), 215-225
Rubin, A. J. (2012, February 16). A childhood lost to pay for the sins of others. The New York
Times, p. A1.

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