Metaphor and Hyperbole: Testing the Continuity Hypothesis

Metaphor and Symbol 30 (1):24-40 (2015)


In standard Relevance Theory, hyperbole and metaphor are categorized together as loose uses of language, on a continuum with approximations, category extensions and other cases of loosening/broadening of meaning. Specifically, it is claimed that there are no interesting differences between hyperbolic and metaphorical uses. In recent work, we have set out to provide a more fine-grained articulation of the similarities and differences between hyperbolic and metaphorical uses and their relation to literal uses. We have defended the view that hyperbolic use involves a shift of magnitude along a dimension which is intrinsic to the encoded meaning of the hyperbole vehicle, while metaphor involves a multi-dimensional qualitative shift away from the encoded meaning of the metaphor vehicle. In this article, we present three experiments designed to test the predictions of this analysis, using a variety of tasks (paraph.

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Author Profiles

Paula Rubio-Fernandez
University of Oslo
Robyn Anne Carston
University College London
Catherine Wearing
Wellesley College

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