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Root metaphor

 

Techniques > Use of language > Metaphor > Root metaphor

Method | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

A root metaphor is one which is so embedded within a language or culture that it is often not realized as being a metaphor.

Another definition of a root metaphor is one from which other metaphors spring. Thus, for example, the metaphor of 'mountain' as a metaphor for a problem can provide the root for 'caves' as hidden areas, 'peak' for target, 'undergrowth' as obscuring noise, etc.

Example

Winning the argument. (argument as war)

Time is money.

Life as journey.

Discussion

Unrealized metaphors can be constraining in the thinking and action that it spawns. This can be hazardous, for example where the metaphor of 'argument as war' pushes us towards the idea that a good argument is one where the other person is beaten into submission through aggressive action. 'Time as money' makes us think about how we 'spend' time and how we should be 'economic' with it.

Root metaphors can be unique to individual cultures, nations, organizations or groups. For example one culture may have a root metaphor of life as a journey, whilst another may see it as opportunity.

See also

 

Lakoff, G. and Johnson, M. (1980). Metaphors we live by, Chicago: University of Chicago Press

 

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