Anthropomorphous metaphor in literary discourse
Бурмакова Е. А. Anthropomorphous metaphor in literary discourse // Молодой ученый. 2015. №13. С. 789-793.
Cognitive linguists contend that understanding metaphors requires activation of conceptual mappings between the concepts involved. When it comes to novel uses of the conventional conceptual metaphors in literature, the contemporary metaphor theory seems to disregard the genre of discourse metaphors occur in. Indeed, in literary discourse metaphor identification, interpretation, and appreciation require more careful and considered processes of reading than other domains of discourse [1, p. 56]. While investigating authentic uses of metaphor, it is always important to consider both the specificity of individual expressions in context and their relationship with large, conventional patterns in a particular genre, discourse or language [2, p. 58]. Moreover, the influences of community, society, culture and history that shape, develop and transform metaphors are equally crucial in catching metaphors sense from a writer’s perspective.
Metaphors from different domains are used in literature “for artistic and rhetorical enrichment, especially for enabling a writer to express his message in a personalized and unique manner” [3, p. 227]. “Metaphors in a work of literature may be uniform or heterogeneous, deriving from different domains such as religion, colours, water, and so on” [3, p. 227]. The present article will discuss novel metaphors derived from the conventional metaphor NATURE is MAN. The overall goal is to demonstrate how anthropomorphous metaphor actually realizes its potential, by being interpreted through an active process of analogical reasoning across two distinct concept domains NATURE and MAN, with regard to the conceptual metaphor theory, the role of immediate contexts and creativity that governs the literary discourse in its general sense.
Linguistic expressions of a conceptual metaphor can be highly conventional or novel linguistic exploitations of the underlying conceptual metaphorical system. Cognitive linguists have traditionally explained understanding of novel metaphors in two ways. The first one implies that many novel metaphors are crafted extensions or elaborations of conceptual metaphors. In these cases, the partial mapping from source to target domain is extended beyond the standard mapping as it is found in conventional mappings [4, p. 382]. Secondly, cognitive linguists recognize that the understanding of particular novel metaphors does not involve the mapping of concepts from one domain to another, but the mapping of mental images . In “More Than A Cool Reason”, Lakoff and Turner have pointed out that poets regularly employ several devices to create novel unconventional language and “images” from the conventional materials of everyday language and thought. More speciﬁcally, they identify four main modes of metaphorical creativity in poetry, namely the extension, elaboration, questioning, or combination of conventional conceptual metaphors . Let us give a brief insight into these models.
- In extending, a conventional conceptual metaphor associated with certain conventionalized linguistic expressions is expressed by new linguistic means that is based on introducing a new conceptual element in the source domain.
- Elaboration is different from extension, in that it elaborates on an existing element of the source in an unusual way. Instead of adding a new element to the source domain, it captures an already existing one in a new, unconventional way.
- In the poetic device of questioning, poets can call into question the very appropriateness of our common everyday metaphors.
- Combining being the most powerful mechanism to go beyond our everyday conceptual system is simultaneous use of two or more metaphors in the same passage or even a sentence.
Kövecses in “Metaphor in Culture” demonstrates that elaboration and extending described by Lakoff and Turner (1989) are based on source-internal creativity. These are cases where “unused source-internal conceptual materials are utilized to comprehend the target” [7, p. 213]. Moreover, he put forward “source-external” cases of creativity operating with the “range of the target,” in which a particular target domain receives new, additional source domains in its conceptualization [7, p. 215]. In addition, target-induced creativity corresponds to “a particular target that is conventionally associated with a source “connects back” to the source taking further knowledge structures from it” [7, p. 218]. To put it briefly, he distinguished the following types: creativity that is based on the source domain (“source-internal” and “source-external”) and creativity that is based on the target.
More recently, scholars influenced by cognitive metaphor theory have started a vast number of research studies on metaphor in literary discourse. Various approaches have been taken; the most prominent are critical discourse analysis, literary approach, corpus-linguistic and psycholinguistic techniques. Some scientists pinpoint that while “dealing with a novel metaphor we are much more dependent on imagination than on convention to reveal the source of comparison” [8, p. 17]. The metaphors of that type are more likely based on a creative act of cognition, which may see/think similarities where objectively there are none. A creative act of cognition can be viewed from two sides: the first deals with metaphor production by an author and the second one is linked to a reader’s interpretive possibilities restricted by individual background and experience. Steen argues that reader’s goal and characteristics, as well as metaphor properties are factors that may enhance or impede metaphor recognition [9, p. 1297]. Besides, scientists regard metaphorical patterns not simply as part of a writer’s individual style  but also as a reflection of his or her individual worldview , .
Apart from these viewpoints, we totally adhere to the claim of the crucial role of context in metaphor creation and comprehension. Metaphors are viewed as vessels for meaning transfer, that change the context in which they occur and at the same time are themselves changed by it [8, p. 5]. The notion of context is a complex one including the linguistic, cultural, social contexts, and the main entities participating in discourse including the speaker (conceptualizer), the hearer (addressee/ conceptualizer), and the entity or process we talk about (topic). Kövecses assumes that these kinds of immediate contexts are that most powerfully and most creatively influence the use of metaphors in poetry [13, p. 719–738]. He distinguishes five types of so-called equally important “context induced” metaphors: metaphors induced by (1) the immediate linguistic context itself, (2) what we know about the major entities participating in the discourse, (3) the physical setting, (4) the social setting, and (5) the immediate cultural context [13, p. 719–738].
An impressive research on metaphor in psychotherapeutic communication highlights the interaction of discourse markers and metaphors [14, p. 313]. Discourse markers are regarded as a type of signalling/tuning device , , which broadens the study of metaphor signalling from clause level metaphors to extended metaphors embedded in more global discourse objectives. This in turn affirms the programmatic notion that metaphors are as deeply discursive as they are cognitive , and irreducibly grounded in their immediate discourse contexts.
The most relevant to present study insights from the above mentioned research on metaphor are the following:
1. Novel metaphors arise from the conventional metaphors due the cognitive processes of extending, elaboration, questioning, and combining conceptual content in the source domain;
2. Metaphorical creativity equally refers to the processes of metaphor production and understanding (comprehension, recognition, interpretation, and appreciation);
3. Immediate contexts taken together or separately play decisive role in interpretive possibilities of metaphors in the literary discourse;
4. Discourse markers might function as signalling devices in directing the interpretation and adjusting the strength of novel metaphors.
The corpus drawn upon in the article is a collection of short stories by a famous Russian writer Vasily Shukshin and the English translations by L. Michael and J. Givens. The corpus is limited to the segments of the discourse containing anthropomorphous metaphors that save an anthropocentric perspective and the source domain while rendering into English language (Mandelblit’s Cognitive Translation Hypothesis) [17, p. 483–495]. The selection of empirical data has been made to enlarge the target audience, i.e. to capture the attention of English-speaking audience.
The anthropomorphous metaphor can be viewed as a formula NATURE IS MAN, where we have NATURE for the target domain, and MAN for the source domain. Nature domain implies “the phenomena of the physical world collectively, including plants, animals, the landscape, and other features and products of the earth, as opposed to humans or human creations” . The conceptual domain MAN correlates with the following notion “a member of the species Homo sapiens or all the members of this species collectively, without regard to sex” .
The perfectly ordinary metaphor NATURE IS MAN is seen in such everyday linguistic examples as “angry wind,” “tender sun,” “the sky is crying,” in both English and Russian. People use and produce an enormous range of expressions derived from the conventional metaphor NATURE IS MAN without realizing it. The phenomena is attributed to the cognitive human capacity of viewing the surrounding world from anthropocentric perspective, that is to say people use the most familiar knowledge of a human being to describe objects or phenomena that occur in nature going beyond people’s comprehension.
In literary discourse, exploitation of MAN domain to create unconventional linguistic expressions and “images” seems strategically advantageous as a human being presents the perpetual source for metaphor creativity. Having recognized the ubiquity of the anthropomorphic metaphor in Shukshin short stories, we have found out that the basic metaphorical schema NATURE IS MAN can be broken down into lower–level, specific schemas bringing to the various aspects of the concept MAN, namely appearance, parts of human body, traits of character, demeanor, feelings and emotions, aural and visual perception, intellectual functions, physical activities, age etc.
The discussion below focuses on how the author exploited the anthropomorphous semantics to describe natural objects and phenomena in regard to the role of metaphorical creativity in literary discourse. А по земле идет светлая ночь, расстилает по косогорам белые простыни [19. p. 211]. A po zemle idet svetlaja noch', rasstilaet po kosogoram belye prostyni [19. p. 211]. The moonlit night would be spreading its sheets over the rolling steppe land [20, p. 145]. Here the phrase night would be spreading its sheets is based on the elaborated version of the conventional metaphor NATURE IS MAN with both domains specified. NIGHT being the part of 24-hour period functions as the target domain and WOMAN as the source domain, as indicated by the metaphorically used expression to spread sheets where sheet is defined “as a large piece of thin cloth that you put on your bed and use for lying on or covering your body when you sleep”. To spread sheet conveying the meaning of the ordinary phrase “to put sheets on a bed” evokes cross cultural, universal associations with a woman who performs a household task. The type of domestic activity mentioned relates to family care responsibilities in general and taking care of children in particular. To that extend the elaboration of the source domain WOMAN might be further viewed as MOTHER. The elaborating of NATURE IS MAN metaphor in such unconventional way results in our perception of NATURE/NIGHT motivated by immediate linguistic context and the whole plot of the story. To be brief, the story “See the horses gallop” is about father-son long-awaited meeting. Having spent a day off together, a father returns home. The author generates the feelings of homesickness, nostalgia and anxiety experienced by the main heroes in female, maternity aspects of the MAN domain. We have demonstrated how the anthropomorphous metaphor can help to construct evaluation of the situations being described.
The following passage is a perfect example of the effect of both physical setting and knowledge about the main entities of discourse (here speaker/writer) on metaphor use and perception. В войну, с самого ее начала, больше всего стали терзать нас, ребятишек, две беды: голод и холод. Обе сразу наваливались, как подступала бесконечная наша сибирская зима со своими буранами и злыми морозами [19, p. 459]. V vojnu, s samogo ee nachala, bol'she vsego stali terzat' nas, rebjatishek, dve bedy: golod i holod. Obe srazu navalivalis', kak podstupala beskonechnaja nasha sibirskaja zima so svoimi buranami i zlymi morozami [19, p. 459]. During the war, from the very beginning, two hardships plagued us kids more than anything else: hunger and cold. They would both bear down on us just as soon as our endless Siberian winter with its blizzards and vicious cold set in [20, p. 220]. “Gogol and Raika” appears to be an autobiographical story as it discovers several similarities to the author's childhood. The personal pronoun us functioning as a discourse marker “place” readers into the event and its consequences. Russian people had hard times during World War II. The farmers redirected food production to the war effort and the country dwellers were starving a lot. Children were engaged in hard physical labour to make provisions for the winter (e.g. harvest, collecting of firewood and so on). The metaphorical passage is based on the metaphor NATURE IS MAN, it manifests how Shukshin’s sorrowful childhood memories are transformed into metaphorical expressions derived from more specific metaphor version WINTER IS AN ENEMY. The physical setting possibly triggers elaboration of an existing conventional conceptual metaphor and causes the writer to personify the season WINTER to evoke a common atmosphere of compassion for all discourse participants.
For an illustration of how the conceptualizer (the author) relies on the cultural context to construct novel metaphorical expression let us scrutinize the passage. Филя посадил у изголовья его могилы березку. Она прижилась. И когда дули южные теплые ветры, березка кланялась и шевелила, шевелила множеством маленьких зеленых ладоней — точно силилась что-то сказать. И не могла [21, p. 96]. Filja posadil u izgolov'ja ego mogily berezku. Ona prizhilas'. I kogda duli juzhnye teplye vetry, berezka klanjalas' i shevelila, shevelila mnozhestvom malen'kih zelenyh ladonej — tochno sililas' chto-to skazat'. I ne mogla [21, p. 96]. And when the warm south winds blew, the birch tree swayed and rustled, rustling its multitude of little green palms — as if it were struggling to say something. And couldn’t [20, p. 163]. The metaphorical segment the birch tree rustling its multitude of little green palms — as if it were struggling to say something embraces the elements of source domain MAN such as body parts (“palm” is the inside part of human hand, between fingers and wrist) and ability to produce speech (“say” — to express an idea, feeling, thought etc. using words) . To emphasize an indissoluble bond between a human and the Nature Shukshin “makes” the main hero plant a birch tree near his best friend’s grave and ascribes human characteristics to it. We can presume that the conjunction as if being a discourse marker is to signal this kind of interrelation. It is noteworthy that the birch tree is a symbol of the Russian natural environment and of Russian beauty, having a meaningful place in Russian culture. It was believed to ward off evil spirits and make wishes come true. Tributes to the birch are found in Russian art, songs, poems and folk tales. For centuries, the birch has been famed for its healing qualities. Just strolling in a birch grove is thought to help you stay happy and healthy, and touching a birch tree is believed to restore emotional balance and reduce stress levels. The elaboration of the target domain NATURE leads us to conclude that the metaphorical passage can be traced to target-induced creativity motivated by the cultural context.
To recapitulate the findings of the present paper: the conceptual mapping between NATURE and MAN domains in Shukshin short stories gives rise to a vast number of newly created metaphorical expressions due the cognitive processes of extending, elaboration of conceptual content in the source domain, target domain or even both domains being embraced simultaneously. Novel anthropomorphous metaphors serve to confirm the prominence of the Russian man's congenial/inherent link with the Nature. Shukshin creates complex images with several changes in the target formula NATURE IS MAN. We have seen that immediate contexts motivate many of these changes and the choice of certain aspects of the language and conceptualization. Discourse properties have an effect on anthropomorphous metaphor perception and its creation as well.
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 This work is funded within the framework of realization of Strategic Programme on National Research Tomsk Polytechnic University Competitiveness Enhancement in the Group of Top Level World Research and Academic Institutions.