March 29, 2012

People live by key metaphors…

Posted in Literature Elements tagged , , , , , , at 6:34 pm by

“In all aspects of life, we define our reality in terms of metaphors and then proceed to act            on the basis of the metaphors. We draw inferences, set goals, make commitments, and      execute plans, all on the basis of how we in part structure our experience, consciously and unconsciously, by means of metaphor”  ~ George Lakoff and Mark Johnson

People live by key metaphors called figures of speech, which means an object or idea is applied to another word or phrase suggesting a similarity between them.[1] Time is money, More is better and Life is a battlefield; are all metaphors that people live by. According to Koiranen (1995), it is our daily language that moves our thoughts but, it’s the metaphors that express relationships such a, A is B, or A is like B. (para Tsoukas, 1993; Easton and Araujo, 1991).[2]  Metaphors are tropes, tools which construct our realities by making our thoughts more intense and even interesting while structuring our own personal perceptions and understanding. Our actions are metaphorical in nature as a means of shaping our conceptual system as seen in everyday activities such as, arguing, solving dilemmas while incorporating what we think, feel and experience (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980, para. 104). Metaphors are created to offer a frame of reference to new concepts while grabbing the attention of the audience to see the old or familiar in a new perspective. This in turn, reveals a different way of thinking.

The use of metaphors is developed from people’s concerns in life. If one were to alter these key metaphors the outcome would be significant as it would change the individual’s views which governed their lives. In our lecture Lakoff & Johnson (1980) discussed the connection of changing a metaphor and its outcome, “…is to point out the importance of realizing that by changing metaphors, one may change in subtle and striking ways the ways people orient toward the phenomena they metaphorize.[3]

An example of this would be the metaphors, “Life is a symphony” compared to “Life is the pits”. An individual who uses one or the other will have completely different outlooks on life itself. For instance, the first gives the imagery of music, energy and rhythm with its crescendos and a positive attitude whereas, the second is a more pessimistic view and negative suggesting no hope. When these metaphors are changed: “Is life the pits” it now revealed to have a more profound effect and philosophical questioning. “A symphony is life” symbolizes the joy of the music that is brought to others. By changing their key metaphors an individual’s perspective can change too by structuring their own personal perceptions and understandings.


Koiranen, M. (1995). Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research 1995 Edition. Retrieved February 22, 2011, from

Lakoff, G. & Johnson, M. (1980). Metaphors We Live By. Retrieved February 22, 2011   ’Brien_I_Proof_5.pdf

[1]How to study. Retrieved February 23, 2011, from

[2] Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research 1995 Edition:  Retrieved February 21, 2011 from,

[3]Mini Lecture: Retrieved February 22, 2011, from

March 26, 2012

Figures of Speech: Metaphors ~ The pen is mightier than the sword/War is not healthy for children and other living things

Posted in Literature Elements tagged at 6:51 am by


Lorraine Schneider wrote: War is not healthy for children and other living things

This metaphor induced its presence through the theme of the negative aspects of war. Its tone reflected enthusiasm, concern and controversy while projecting intelligence and awareness as Perelman & Olbrechts-Tyteca (2008) stated, “…by this we mean the oratorical development of a theme, irrespective of the exaggeration that the people generally associate with it” (p. 175). The result was a link between the orator and the audience to a common cause. In this instance, the audience associated their own personal experiences and knowledge and drew from their own conceptual system.

Its timeliness as well as presence reminded the listeners of the global phrase donned from the Vietnam War that was created by an artist and mother. The connections of marches on Washington in the 1960’s could also be perceived as well as, the allusion to an important historical event which created emotions aroused by memories and pride.[1] It revealed a glimmer of hope in despairing times, a need for peace/social justice, and was written as a protest to the war itself. It utilized a negative to achieve intensity: war, while expressing a strong positive: healthy children and other living things.

As the litotes recites, War is not healthy for children and other living things[2] meaning that people who participate in war should consider the consequences regarding the health and welfare of children and all living things. These are resources for everyday life, for children, women, and men including all living creatures. In a state of war, children and women are killed just as easily as men. The repercussions of war effect children, men and woman physically, mentally and emotionally along with hurting of the environment including its creatures. War has real costs to human life and other living things as this metaphor communicated to the listener and appealed to their personal values and beliefs. According to Perelman & Olbrechts-Tyteca (2008) who commented on the perception of values, “The existence of values, as objects of agreement that make possible a communion with regard to particular ways of acting, is connected with the idea of multiplicity of groups” (p.74).

Therefore, the speaker recognized a sense of communion as he/she spoke of values the audience recognized and understood. The amplification intensified its message to the listeners while increasing the validity of the idea. As Perelman & Olbrechts-Tyteca (2008) commented, “The speaker tries to establish a sense of communion centered around particular values recognized by the audience… he uses the whole range of means available to the rhetorician for the purposes of amplification and enhancement” (p. 51).

A reorientation could be strategically employed by incorporating Onomatopoeia, which would evoke an actual noise where the only thing that matters is the intention to imitate. (para. Perelman & Olbrechts-Tyteca, 174). For example bombs exploding, guns being shot and screams of anguish. The audience would see a large screen depicting the faces of war in the background of the speech taking place. The men and women soldiers, the aftermath of bloodshed, the dead (innocent children, women and men) as well as the body bags of those being carried off American planes to their final resting place. It is possible that a metaphor can change the thoughts of many people about their own actions.

This metaphor enabled reorientation toward the phenomena over war and life itself exploring it in a new light. The ramifications and consequences of what it meant to be at war for every son, daughter and our planet are echoed in these words. The bottom line is war is hell as people die, innocent people and it is up to us not forget what war really means to the children and their future’s natural environment.

[1] Retrieved February 23, 2011, from

[2] Retrieved February 24, 2011, from

Thomas Paine wrote: The pen is mightier than the sword

This synecdoche induced its presence by connecting the audience and speaker with the concept of The Pen being mightier than a sword[1] as the pen symbolized freedom of expression and the sword represented power of authority. The feeling was applied to the development of theme as the inanimate objects were portrayed as being powerful and influential while amplifying and describing the whole and its constituent parts.[2] The metonymy relied on the expectation that people would understand the reference as its technique utilizing imagery to make the abstract concept more accessible and understandable to the audience. The message was geared toward solving problems more effectively with words than by violence. In other words, it was more practical to resolve a conflict by the use of communication rather than by confrontation. The pen was associated with a writer and the power of the printed word (who had the ability of producing public views and opinions) whereas, the sword was associated with a fighter and had the traits of oppression, violence, military force/action and war.

In persuading the audience and establishing presence a connection was made on an emotional level as it reached the listener’s conceptual perceptions. Figure of communion was used through the common culture to relay the message. The result was dialogue due to the values shared by the audience by referring to its concrete or abstract values. (para. Perelman & Olbrechts-Tyteca, 74). As a result of the argumentative technique, this periphrases figure of speech was not related to a choice as Perelman & Olbrechts-Tyteca (2008) remarked, “…such figures as synecdoche or metonymy, whose function is not essentially that of choice, though they may serve that function. (p. 173).

The reorientation could be strategically employed by renaming the power of names since changing the way we look at old things are never more important than when new names are used.[3] For instance, The Pen is mightier than the sword becomes Words transcend action or Communication is greater than a weapon. This metaphor enabled reorientation toward the phenomena over the written word versus authoritative power. History and science have proven that the pen is mightier than the sword through knowledge and wisdom and it has been said that the effects of action by a sword can be faster and greater over communication but, it is through time that words will always win out.

In conclusion, figures of speech can bring excitement and interest to our daily language and convey meaning. In giving a speech, speakers utilize metaphors for many reasons such as, their message can be stated in few words with an understanding of the idea or object as well as incorporating meaning and interest. It piques the audience’s interest to see the old in a new perspective but, the golden rule must be followed as I have read, for all to keep harmony within the character, purpose and composition of any speech given in front of an audience.

[1] Ibid.

[3]Retrieved February 26, 2011, from


Perelman, C. & Olbrechts-Tyteca, L. (2008). The new rhetoric: a treatise on argumentation. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press.

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