Interdisziplinäres Zentrum für Kognitive Sprachforschung

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Abstract Kövecses

Conceptual metaphor theory and its critique

In the past 25 years the metaphor theory worked out originally by Lakoff and Johnson (1980) has become one of the most influential theories of metaphor. At the same time, however, the theory has been strongly criticized for a variety of reasons over the years. Researchers from several disciplines using different perspectives, such as Quinn, Murphy, Gevaert, Dobrovolskij, Stefanowitch, Zinken, and many others, raised objections to conceptual metaphor theory. The present paper attempts to take stock of these critical issues and tries to provide answers to many (though not all) of them. I will suggest that an extended version of conceptual metaphor theory can successfully handle much of the criticism. The extended version of the theory relies on the following additional notions: a theory of metaphor variation; a three-level view of metaphor; the recognition of the bottom-up vs. top-down distinction; and the notion of the meaning focus of the source domain.