Food for thought?

Metaphors are a familiar feature of poetry, but over the last forty years it has become increasingly obvious that they are also a fundamental aspect of everyday language, and beyond that a fundamental aspect of thought. We can neither express our emotions in any detail without metaphor (in a state of depression, a fiery temper) nor conceptualise complex scientific ideas without them (internet, black hole). Conversely we can convey our thirst for knowledge so much more clearly because everyone knows what it feels like to be thirsty.

Many disciplines are now engaging in research on metaphor – but they don’t always share the same language in talking about it, they interrogate it from different perspectives, and they may not always be talking about quite the same thing. We also know too little about concepts of metaphor across languages. This research project will work across disciplines and languages in order to address the following questions:

Is metaphor a universal phenomenon across languages, and how does it manifest itself in different cultures?

How does metaphor work at the interface between cognition, embodiment and language?

How is linguistic creativity conceptualised, and to what extent may metaphor facilitate creativity?

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