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We hardly every realize that we speak like “poets” as the Italian philosopher Giambattista Vico so ingeniously observed. By this he meant that much of our discourse and conversations are guided by metaphorical, and more generally, figurative, cognition. This means that language is not organized fundamentally as a set of literal ideas, but rather as a means of connecting ideas through resemblance and inference in order to blend experiences holistically. The scientific study of figurative language took off after the 1980 book, Metaphors We Live By, written by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson. Since then, the study of metaphor and rhetorical structure in all codes, from language to painting, has become a major research enterprise in semiotics and linguistics. Starting with Aristotle and ending with an analysis of the rhetorical basis of material and ritualistic culture, this chapter is intended to show how meaning unfolds when concepts are joined together in accordance with our innate sense of the connectivity of things in the world. There is currently so much information and writing on metaphor scattered in journals and books in all kinds of disciplines that it would take a gargantuan effort just to organize and classify it. For this reason, the chapter selects only the main findings of the research.
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Lakoff, George, and Mark Johnson. 1980. Metaphors we live by. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
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- Kisses Sweeter Than Wine: Metaphor and the Making of Meaning
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