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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good introductory book
This was a good book for somebody with engineering background wanting to get a quick overview of the current state of metaphor theory. Looks like the book has given me what I was looking for. It was easy to read, although sometimes I wished to have more details and better illustrations. Hope the author will publish 3rd edition after ten or so years, to keep us updated...
Published 16 months ago by Einar Polis

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97 of 110 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Thorough, within its limits
The preface of this book says it's about "what has happened in the past two decades in the cognitive linguistic study of metaphor." I hadn't read a book on the subject of metaphor since 1978, so the precision of that comment went totally over my head. I'm writing this review so that the same doesn't happen to you.

The cognitive linguistic (CL) approach to...
Published on March 15, 2006 by A. J. Sutter


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97 of 110 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Thorough, within its limits, March 15, 2006
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The preface of this book says it's about "what has happened in the past two decades in the cognitive linguistic study of metaphor." I hadn't read a book on the subject of metaphor since 1978, so the precision of that comment went totally over my head. I'm writing this review so that the same doesn't happen to you.

The cognitive linguistic (CL) approach to metaphor is based on the work of Lakoff and Johnson (with whom the author of this book has worked, and to whom he dedicates the book). It emphasizes the conceptual, rather than merely linguistic, character of metaphor. It regards metaphor as a "mapping" from a "source (conceptual) domain" to a "target domain". So a statement like "I defended my argument" can be explained by a conceptual metaphor ARGUMENT IS WAR, where "argument" is the target and "war" is the source. The same mapping also underlies many other expressions (e.g., "He won the argument"). Using one concept to explain many expressions (and even non-linguistic instantiations) is supposed to be a special benefit of the CL approach.

The book seems to be a very comprehensive exposition of the CL theory of metaphor. Metonymy is also discussed quite thoroughly. There are exercises after each chapter, together with a complete answer key. But that's as far as it goes. The CL theory is one theory of metaphor among several, and you won't learn anything about any of the others (other than a bit about "blending") from this book.

Some of book's aplications of the CL approach were pretty neat, including the discussions of complex abstract systems (Ch. 10), pedagogical applications (Ch. 14) and historical semantics and grammar (Ch. 15). But it's hard to tell from this book whether the theory really has the "scientific" quality to which it seems to aspire (as evidenced by, among other things, its mathematical-sounding jargon: "domains", "mappings" etc.)

In particular: The book names hundreds of conceptual metaphors, as if they have some objective existence. But it leaves a lot unexplained. How can you know that a particular conceptual metaphor is the correct one to invoke in a given case, to the exclusion of others or even just in preference to others? (BTW, the exercises often ask you to do just that.) When a name is given to a conceptual metaphor, does this mean that the source domain and its mapping to the target have been verified by historical research? Does the giving of a name suggest, as with the naming of species in modern biology, that some effort has gone into verifying that there really is a distinct species, with specific features that can be reproducibly distinguished? Or are the names more ad hoc, and bestowed according to individual taste (or the taste of Lakoff and his clique)?

The book never addresses such questions, but the author's attributions of conceptual metaphors provide some clue. They're often arbitrary or downright bizarre. For example, he cites "The sight filled them with joy," "She couldn't contain her joy any longer," and "I was bursting with happiness," as examples of HAPPINESS IS A FLUID IN A CONTAINER (p. 86). OK, fluids are plausible here, though couldn't one also be filled with solids? Next he mentions "I couldn't keep my happiness to myself," "She gave way to her feelings of happiness," "His feelings of joy broke loose," and "He couldn't hold back tears of joy," as examples of HAPPINESS IS A CAPTIVE ANIMAL (id.). Where is the necessity of invoking a captive animal to explain these? Fluids could do just as well for most of them. Moreover, since we're told (at p. 16) that the "central idea" of the CL school is that the human body is the most important source of conceptual metaphors, excretion seems at least as appropriate a source for these metaphors as a captive animal. However, the author doesn't offer any justification for invoking the captive animal concept over any competing alternatives -- in fact, he doesn't mention any alternatives at all.

Such examples left me with the feeling that the CL theory is just as subjective as literary criticism and other traditional approaches to metaphor, but with an added layer of scientific pretension. That doesn't mean it can't produce occasional insights, but the pretension is irritating -- and misleading. Rather than having the relative rigor found in some branches of linguistics, CL theory of metaphor seems like just a lot of hand-waving (and a bit too much deference to Lakoff & Johnson). I'm not qualified to determine whether this is more a reflection of the theory per se or of the book's exposition of it, but it's disappointing in either case.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I wish it were otherwise, October 13, 2013
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Stanley B. Klein (santa barbara, ca USA) - See all my reviews
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I wish I could be more positive. Perhaps the negativity of my review has something to do with the likelihood that English is not the author's native language. I hope so -- but am far from certain that therein resides the basis of my concerns.

First, the book contains a glut of metaphoric examples. I can understand the need for some, but the amount of repetition (as well as presentational over-kill) is bewildering and unnecessary. Without the endless reiteration of example heaped on example (one or a few would suffice -- not entire page's worth) the author probably easily could have eliminated 1/3 the text.

Second, theoretical treatment is very superficial. The text reads more like an endless description of extant metaphors and their employment in language than an analytic discussion of why metaphors exist and why they function as they do. I recognize the author "names" these issues as problems he will grapple with, but he addresses them largely by restating the problem and giving more examples. The sheer number of question begging "solutions", substituting as logical analysis of key questions, is staggering.

Treatment of existing theoretical positions is very superficial. I truly hope this superficiality is due to the author's analysis and not inherent in the theories themselves (I am beginning to suspect the latter given the author's supposed centrality to the debates). For example, Lakoff's model of neural aspects of metaphor(complete with an incomprehensible -- as presented -- tip of the hat to everyone's current favorite -- the "mirror neuron" -- is so skeletal that I have no idea what the substance (assuming there is any) of the theory might be.

Likewise, the author's treatment of "embodiment" begs so many critical questions that I came away thinking tautology must be the modus operandi of metaphor investigators.

The diagrams simply re-state the text, and provide no additional clarification (often they do more to confuse than illuminate).

I could go on. But I think you get the idea. I really am saddened by the negative tone of this review. I intend to write a paper on metaphors of memory and felt the need to get more formal background in the topic of metaphor prior to spinning my tale. But each day of reading left me more and more upset at the treatment being given, until (despite my pathological need to soldier on when reading a text) I no longer could "take it" and felt a need to respond (how pathetic of me; but perhaps my views might spare some others the pain I suffered).

Maybe this "text" might be appropriate for some very low level introduction to metaphor for folk who cannot tell a metaphor from a tree trunk. But if you want coherent, non-question begging analysis and conceptually detailed insight, this is not the place to be.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good introductory book, November 7, 2013
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This review is from: Metaphor: A Practical Introduction (Kindle Edition)
This was a good book for somebody with engineering background wanting to get a quick overview of the current state of metaphor theory. Looks like the book has given me what I was looking for. It was easy to read, although sometimes I wished to have more details and better illustrations. Hope the author will publish 3rd edition after ten or so years, to keep us updated with latest developments in a field. Currently most efforts were put into explaining intricacies of conceptual metaphor concept and its various applications. The book is culminating with a good introduction to conceptual blending theory. What I missed most were in-depth discussions on neural correlates, but maybe this all is still too speculative or intentionally left for non-introductory books
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4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of Info but a bit overwhelming, July 3, 2014
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This books covers just about everything you would want to know about metaphors - what they are; where they come from; how they are used. The text can actually be a little overwhelming, as the author offers an excessive number of examples for each type of metaphor. The point can easily be understood with just a few examples. The book covers the basics but also goes in depth on all kinds of angles about metaphors. For this reader, it was a bit too much, and I skimmed or skipped through most of the last third of the book, which is a good hunk of over 300 pages. To be fair, the book is written as a text book, with exercises included, and I suppose the serious academic student would enjoy delving into the deep waters of metaphorical minutiae. Well. I am neither serious nor academic nor a student, so there. Seriously, one of the main points made by the author is that metaphor is not just a tool of literature or oratory but is used by all of us in day-to-day life. The author also discusses metonymy and its relationship to metaphor.
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5.0 out of 5 stars metaphor, February 16, 2014
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Good summary of the theory of conceptual metaphor! Alas not translated in Russian...:) A very good structured handbook! I like it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, January 1, 2015
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This review is from: Metaphor: A Practical Introduction (Kindle Edition)
A good companion to Lakoff and Turner.
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8 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential book for writers, teachers and thinkers., January 4, 2008
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Bob Hembree (North Carolina) - See all my reviews
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This is a great introduction to Metaphor and its practical uses. Although I'm interested in the scientific theory and research aspects of it, I am more interested in using these ideas to help students to become better writers. This book inspired further research, especially works by Lakoff, Turner, Johnson, Black, Pinker and their various collaborations over the years. As a writer, it provided a road map through the labyrinth of understanding and creating quality literature.
Kovecses is a natural teacher, and each chapter builds on the previous with clear accessibility. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in literature, writing or how our minds work. Metaphor: A Practical Introduction is now included in the intermediate fiction writing courses at Writers' Village University for 2008.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A concise review of many different theories of metaphor, January 4, 2014
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This review is from: Metaphor: A Practical Introduction (Kindle Edition)
This book brings many different aspects of metaphor together under one "roof" (or umbrella, or ceiling, or etc.). By no means thorough, or extremely detailed, it's a great "starting-off point" for anyone interested in learning more about this multifaceted aspect of language. It "gives" plenty of references for further research for those interested in "pursuing" the subject of metaphor. It also includes "exercises" at the end of each chapter for those who want to thoroughly "digest" each concept. Overall it was a fun, "light," read with plenty of thought-provoking "material." It makes me want to learn more and gives me a "road map" to do so. I'd say for this "slim" book it "packs a punch."
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6 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, highly readable summary of research in conceptual metaphor, February 3, 2008
Excellent book. Provides a clear and concise overview of current understanding of metaphor. Much more accessible than Lakoff's presentation in Woman, Fire, and Dangerous Things, although Lakoff is due significant credit for his seminal work in showing that metaphors are not just linguistic constructs but truly conceptual. Discusses cultural aspects, conceptual metaphor in idioms, restrictions on how metaphors are mapped, and theories of how metaphors relate to each other and metonymy.
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