Productivity and Schematicity in Metaphors

Cognitive Science 21 (3):247-282 (1997)
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Abstract

The theory of metaphor proposed by Lakoff and Johnson (1980a, 1980b) and Lakoff (1993) involves a mapping of conceptual structure from one semantic domain to another. We investigate properties of these conceptual domain mappings by comparing them to morphological derivational relations. Schematicity and productivity are properties that Bybee (1985) and Langacker (1987) propose for characterizing morphological derivational relations, which we apply to our analysis of metaphor. Metaphors are argued to vary in their degree of semantic schematicity: Domain relations function as generalizations over specific metaphorical expressions. We also demonstrate three points on a continuum of productivity: Conventional metaphors are highly productive, metaphorically motivated transparent idioms are semiproductive, and opaque idioms are unproductive. Each point is compared with an example of morphological productivity having a corresponding conceptual organization. The results demonstrate that semantic productivity can be characterized in the same way as morphological productivity, suggesting that form and meaning are organized by the same principles.

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