A Comparative Study of Metaphor in Arabic and English: by Fahad H. Al Jumah

By Fahad H. Al Jumah

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Metaphors are largely context-based (Katz, 1996); given this, a study of the particular use of metaphor in a given field often reveals something of the world view of the field’s practitioners. Metaphors have long penetrated the various aspects of our life. In the realm of literature, the exceptional qualities of metaphors are thought to make them the most potent medium by which to 38 convey literary experience in a form that can be easily grasped by readers (Stambovsky, 1988). However, as is clear from the discussion in this chapter so far, the realm of metaphor is now commonly believed to extend far beyond the literary realm.

This thinking links human cognition, comprehension and expression with environmental factors. This embodiment can be exemplified in the use of words related to food and eating, such as “digest,” “swallow,” “eat” and “chew,” in describing how ideas and mental constructs are being processed and understood (cf. “I’ll need some time to digest that idea,” or “He’ll never swallow that outrageous claim”). Moreover, the Lakoff and Johnson (1980) also laid emphasis on the prevalence of orientational idioms to further demonstrate their thesis.

In this example, notice that the word ‘dies’ takes the role of a metaphor. Dying, in this instance, does not mean the physical death that is possible for humans and 18 other living organisms. Since love is an abstract feeling, dying here may mean losing the feeling. The word dies then serves as the metaphor substitute. Lakoff and Johnson (1980) claimed that most of the pervading metaphors in our communication today are culled from our physical world and our sense of embodiment in this world. This claim is supported by the philosophy of embodied realism which holds that a human being and the external entities and forces that it encounters are two parts of an inseparable whole or totality of experience (Rakova, 2002, Lakoff & Johnson, 1999).

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