Metaphor and the 'Emergent Property' Problem: A Relevance-Theoretic Approach


Authors
Deirdre Wilson
University College London
Robyn Anne Carston
University College London
Abstract
The interpretation of metaphorical utterances often results in the attribution of emergent properties; these are properties which are neither standardly associated with the individual constituents of the utterance in isolation nor derivable by standard rules of semantic composition. For example, an utterance of ‘Robert is a bulldozer’ may be understood as attributing to Robert such properties as single-mindedness, insistence on having things done in his way, and insensitivity to the opinions/feelings of others, although none of these is included in the encyclopaedic information associated with bulldozers . An adequate pragmatic account of metaphor interpretation must provide an explanation of the processes through which emergent properties are derived. In this paper, we attempt to develop an explicit account of the derivation process couched within the framework of relevance theory. The key features of our account are: metaphorical language use is taken to lie on a continuum with other cases of loose use, including hyperbole; metaphor interpretation is a wholly inferential process, which does not require associative mappings from one domain to another ; the derivation of emergent properties involves no special interpretive mechanisms not required for the interpretation of ordinary, literal utterances.
Keywords Metaphor  Vagueness  Loose talk  Pragmatics
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2007, 2008
DOI 10.4148/biyclc.v3i0.23
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 42,156
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Literal Meaning.François Recanati - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 75 (2):487-492.
Scorekeeping in a Language Game.David K. Lewis - 1979 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 8 (1):339--359.

View all 35 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

XIII-Metaphor: Ad Hoc Concepts, Literal Meaning and Mental Images.Robyn Carston - 2010 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 110 (3pt3):295-321.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Autism, Metaphor and Relevance Theory.Catherine Wearing - 2010 - Mind and Language 25 (2):196-216.
A Deflationary Account of Metaphor.Dan Sperber & Deirdre Wilson - 2008 - In Ray Gibbs (ed.), The Cambridge Handbook of Metaphor and Thought. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 84-105.
Beardsley on Metaphor.H. G. Callaway - 1986 - Restant 14, Text, Literature and Aesthetics 14:73-88.
Objects of Metaphor.Samuel Guttenplan - 2005 - Oxford University Press.
Shoemaker on Emergence.Warren Shrader - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 150 (2):285 - 300.
Précis of Relevance: Communication and Cognition.Dan Sperber & Deirdre Wilson - 1987 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 10 (4):697.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2013-12-01

Total views
64 ( #123,597 of 2,253,630 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
14 ( #65,772 of 2,253,630 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature