Literature/1975/Abraham

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Werner Abraham (1975). A Linguistic Approach to Metaphor. Lisse, Netherlands: Peter de Ridder Press.

Abstract[edit]

An intensionalist position is taken in the discussion of metaphorical use of language. The concept of meaning (refuted by extensionalism as being unclear and hence methodologically unacceptable; compare, for example, Quine 1961, Cohen 1962) is developed by integrating both the meaning postulate approach (Carnap) and the componential analysis approach (which plays a decisive role in the semantic theory introduced by Katz and Fodor 1964 and is most prominently advocated by Katz 1972).

The basic thesis is that among the possible associations (meaning components) that verify the proper use of a lexeme only those are conditions for the normal use of the lexeme that have top priority (are the strongest, or necessary, associations). Metaphors are explained on the basis of a reordering of those components such that associations of low priority in the meaning analysis gain prominence (high priority). In principle, every attempt at metaphorical interpretation presupposes some inferential operation of the traditional sort.

Since there are metaphors of a more universal (etymologically and typologically recurring) sort and those of a highly context-specific kind, pragmatic categories and rules of discourse add to what can be generally called an approach of semantic pragmatics. The senses of lexemes are elicited by interaction with other lexemes syntactically connected, as well as by situative conditions. The phenomenon of the metaphor is thus not distinct from any other lexematic occurrence the sense of which is established by interaction with its context (conversational meaning; cf. Cresswell 1973:239); rather, it is a separate type only insofar as the metaphorizing intention of the speaker is explicit.

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Related works[edit]

  • Ricoeur, Paul (1975). The Rule of Metaphor: Multi-Disciplinary Studies in the Creation of Meaning in Language. Robert Czerny, Kathleen McLaughlin & John Costello, trans., London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1978. [^]
  • Black, Max (1954). "Metaphor." Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 55, pp. 273-294. [^]
  • Richards, I. A. (1936). The Philosophy of Rhetoric. Oxford University Press. [^]

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