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Abstract Petrica

Cognitive Metaphors in Subliminal Communication. The Case of Malta and the EU-Membership

Studies on the usage of metaphors in political discourse currently abound in the field of linguistics. As a sub-branch, one notices that metaphors depicting the European Union and related issues are also analysed. However, these studies seem to focus exclusively on such metaphors in well-developed countries, like Germany and England and, consequently, to neglect the analysis of this linguistic phenomenon in the discourse of less developed countries. My paper investigates the common metaphors in political and journalistic discourse in Malta with regard to the EU-membership and aims to disclose potential culture-specific conceptual metaphors. The preliminary findings suggest that many of the conceptual metaphors overlap with conceptual metaphors in political discourse all over Europe, but that however several specific metaphors are to be detected. For example, the metaphor of PRESSURE is not present in the discourse of strong members of the European Union but it looms large in the discourse of their weaker counterparts. A more convincing example would be the metaphorical conceptualisation of the European Union as a spanker or a sodomiser that is going to spank/ sodomize Malta. There is a strong possibility that such metaphors are unlikely to occur in the political discourse of countries like Germany, which is one of the founding members of the European Union and therefore ‘in control’.

Based on a research of the Maltese press in English, approximately covering the period 2000-2006, metaphors in their original context will be gathered into a small corpus, which will consist of two parts. The first will deal with the political discourse before 01.05.2004 (the day when Malta joined the EU) whereas in the second part prevalent metaphors occurring after this date will be included.

The issue of Malta’s joining the EU has largely been debated in Malta. Interestingly, Malta has a two-party system, whose philosophy could be largely explained in terms of their approval or disapproval of Malta’s EU-membership. Nevertheless, after Malta joined the EU in 2004, the arguments appear to have lost strength. As a consequence, I aim to investigate how this political reality is reflected in the choices made at the metaphorical level.

Starting from the cognitivists’ stance that metaphors highlight one or several aspects of a concept while at the same time concealing some others, I will also focus on how metaphors are apt to form opinion and thereby manipulate.