Accepted Paper:

Metaphor and the passage from the unknown to the known  


Alexis Black (Concordia University )

Paper short abstract:

This study examines the metaphorical process as individuals imagine a potential, yet unrealized reality: human extra-planetary existence. This paper examines how individuals deploy metaphors to make use of cultural frames and previous knowledge in order to 'make sense' of the unknown

Paper long abstract:

This study examines the metaphorical process as individuals imagine an "unknown unknown" (Laurence 1917): human existence beyond the planet Earth. My paper presents results from dozens of individual interviews conducted over a nine month period. Individuals are asked to describe how they imagine feelings, experiences, sensations and challenges for human life beyond the Earth. This data is then analyzed using critical discourse analysis (Van Dijk 1997) and Conceptual Metaphor Theory (Charteris-Black 2004) in order to respond to the question: How does metaphor facilitate 'sense-making' of the unknown using past experience and cultural frames?

This process is key to understanding how language, especially metaphor functions to 'wor(l)d build' by facilitating the cognitive processes that bridge human imagination and emergent reality. Metaphor necessitates a value judgement by highlighting and hiding particular characteristics of a target domain (Charteris-Black 2004). Therefore, in the case of emergent reality, the metaphors we use do much to delineate what is considered possible and impossible (or desirable or undesirable) and therefore to shape how we build future realities.

Panel RM-LL03
Metaphor: transfer and the motion of language [LingAnthLing panel]