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Unformatted text preview: Chapter V Words from the lexical field of war and their
A corpus-based study
The present chapter is devoted to the domain of WAR as a source of metaphors. A number of investigations have been conducted so far into the
metaphorical conceptualisation of various aspects of human life and society
in terms of war on the basis of different discourses. For example, CharterisBlack (2004) analysed the language of political speeches, sports reporting,
financial reporting and religious discourse; Koller (2004) examined business media discourse; Nerlich – Clark (2002), Nerlich et al. (2002), Nerlich
(2005) considered the media representations of foot and mouth disease,
stem cells and avian flu; Musolff (2004) considered the political debate
about uniting Europe. All of these authors use real discourse as their data
and identify its source. This is a significant step forwards in comparison to
some CMT publications (Lakoff – Johnson 1980, also much of Lakoff –
Johnson 1999, Kövecses 2002), where the source of examples on which the
theory is built remains unspecified, most probably coming from introspection. This work is not a critique of introspection as such, but rather a nonvaluating indication of difference in data type. In the case of both of these
research styles there is a step in the analysis when the researcher moves
from linguistic expression to categorisation through conceptual metaphor
identification and labelling.
Kövecses (2002: 5)1 for instance, perpetuates what he calls ‘classic examples’ from Lakoff – Johnson (1980). Among others, he gives AN
ARGUMENT IS WAR conceptual metaphor and supports it with such sentences as
1 I quote these examples from Kövecses (2002) and not Lakoff – Johnson (1980) to
show that they are constantly reiterated and form a vigorous meme in the academic discourse on metaphor. 196 Chapter V I demolished his argument.
I’ve never won an argument with him.
There is no indication here of any doubt concerning these examples. In
the literature they seem to be universally considered good examples of the
metaphor in question. However, the dictionary definition taken from the
Collins Cobuild English Language Dictionary (CCELD) gives only two
senses of the word demolish. First, in the context of building demolition
as opposed to construction, with the meaning of knocking down buildings; and second, in the metaphorical use in the context of argument, with
the meaning of criticising someone’s idea or belief. Thus, this word does
not seem to belong to the domain of WAR. Why should it be an indication
of AN ARGUMENT IS WAR conceptual metaphor? After all it can be a lexical
realisation of A THEORY IS A BUILDING conceptual metaphor. Similarly, the
verb win can be used in many different contexts (the CCELD gives such
contexts as competition, game and battle), why should a decontextualised
example be an indication of ARGUMENT IS WAR conceptual metaphor? After all it can as well be the first example to...
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