Metaphors: History as Roots Essay

Metaphors: History as Roots Essay

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Metaphors, according to Professor George Lakoff, are a way to think and reason about life. They are not a unique way to speak about it, but a common way to talk about life experiences since they are a reflection of our thought processes (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 phrases around me were metaphors. Those phrases were not “poetic or rhetorical” way of talking, but a normal usage for those around me to express their thoughts (Lakeoff, 1986, p.216). The metaphor that came up several times on my search was history as roots. This metaphor allows us to think about life in a certain way and it holds particular implications 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 captive 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 does this phrase make sense even when the article was not talking about growing plants or their root systems?
Metaphors create meaning by “mapping [an experience] from the source domain to the target domain” (Lakoff, 1986, p. 216). For the history as roots metaphor, 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 have about root...


... middle of paper ...


...nding elements. Therefore, a rooted entity is not a spontaneous event, but one that has an extensive and sustained existence. Likewise, an entity that will be planted is one that will establish itself. This metaphor has the power to influence our thoughts because the phrase, deeply rooted, is not figure of speech, but a way of thinking about history as roots.








Works Cited

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 http://www.jrf.org.uk/media-centre/deep-roots-homelessness
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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