Book Review: Language in Use: Metaphors in Non-Literary Contexts

Metaphor has been extensively talked about so far. In time, the approaches have been various – within the area of humanities, they have ranged from purely linguistic, to cognitive, philosophical, stylistic, and sociological, to name just a few perspectives. Language in Use: Metaphors in Non-Literary Contexts, edited by Loredana Pungă and published by Cambridge Scholars in 2016, adds a number of points of view to the multitude of studies already dedicated to metaphor.

9781443888844Born from the editor’s declared belief “that there is always something more to say about metaphor” (2016: XV), the volume is a collection of sixteen articles relying, in their great majority, on Conceptual Metaphor theory. The contributions (mostly by Romanian scholars, but also by researchers from Hungary, Germany and Serbia) are grouped in two parts, preceded by a pretty lengthy Preface – a useful synopsis for anybody interested in a brief overview of the development of the matter under consideration. Here, the editor succinctly, yet relevantly, pinpoints the landmarks in the evolution of theories on metaphor, from the Antiquity thinkers Aristotle, Cicero, and Quintilian on to the 18th century Romantic poets’ view, Black’s interaction view, Ortony’s formulaic approach, Weinreich or Levin’s componential analysis-based investigations, Searle’s pragmatic ones, etc. to the late XXth century Conceptual Metaphor and blending theory. Part I. Metaphors at Play and Work comprises chapters focusing on metaphors employed either in everyday, non-specialized areas or in specific ones (sports, wine making and food and cooking), while Part II. Living with Metaphors brings together chapters on metaphors used in rather personal, intimate contexts (diary-writing and career interviews) as well as public ones (the classroom environment, the political arena, the advertising and the film industry, media campaigns).

As announced by the editor in the Preface, bringing together articles that propose different points of view on metaphor represents an insight into the intricacies of the human way of thinking. Conceptual Metaphor theory is not new in itself and there has been quite substantial research that has been done based on it. So, it is not in the approach that the novelty of this volume resides. It is rather in its potential of offering a kaleidoscopic view on the inexhaustible topic of metaphor (as the editor’s declared intention was for it to do) and thus, of opening doors to further multi-faceted investigations in its area.

Well-conceived, this carefully-made selection of contributions to the study of metaphors may be of interest to a heterogeneous readership – descriptive, cognitive and comparative linguists, translators, teachers of foreign languages, politicians, advertisers or film makers. The accessible, yet professional language used turns it into a not very demanding reading experience for those who (however) possess knowledge of metaphor theory beyond the introductory level.

Silvia Pascu, Tibiscus University Timișoara

Romanian Journal of English Studies, 13:1 (2016)

To read the review in full, click here (PDF). To find out more about the book, click here.

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