How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
Parts of a metaphor
The metaphor comes in two main parts, classically known as the tenor and the vehicle, which are connected by a verb.
The tenor in a metaphor is the original subject. If I say 'you are a dog', then you are the tenor. If I say 'It's a dog day', then the tenor is the day.
The vehicle in a metaphor is both the words and concepts that are invoked by the words.
The tenor and the vehicle are generally connected by a verb that somehow equates them. The verb 'to be' is by far the most common verb used, as it effectively says 'the tenor is the vehicle'.
The vehicle has a number of dimensions, attributes or variables which may be mapped or transferred back onto the tenor and hence create new meaning.
In analysis of discourse and the understanding of metaphor, the separation of tenor and vehicle is a basic first step. This is followed by understanding the dimensions of the vehicle and how these are mapped back onto the tenor and how meaning is changed or extended as a result.
A good metaphor has many dimensions that map well into the tenor. A bad metaphor has dimensions that either do not map back to the tenor or, worse, create a distorted understanding.
Note that in the rest of this section on metaphor, the tenor is generally called the 'subject', simply because this wording is easier to understand.