Friday, September 12, 2014

Wigod: The Matter of Metaphor and Its Importance for Linguistics (1972)

Chapter 10 of this MA thesis contains some useful references to state of metaphor theory in the early 1970s. I don't know anything about the author, but a bit of googling suggests that she now works in Canada as a journalist.


Wigod's own take on the cognitive underpinnings of metaphorical speech is that "metaphor is man's cognizing tool par excellence, and quite possibly his only such" (p. 84).

She also quotes John Middleton Murry as saying that "metaphor appears as the instinctive and necessary act of the mind exploring and ordering experience," and that the lexis of a language is "the record of past cognitive exploration." Both of these quotes come from his essay in the anthology Essays on Metaphor edited by Warren Shibles (1972; pp. 28 and 93, respectively).

A number of interesting quotes are also given from William Hilton Leatherdale's The Role of Analogy, Model, and Metaphor in Science (1974). Leatherdale claims that metaphor is "indispensable for positing hypotheses" in science (p. 133), and it leads to "a multi-dimensional, gestalt-like insight into new ways of looking at phenomena" (p. 22).

Wigod also explains that
… Leatherdale cites another two-fold classification of analogies. The first type is the observation of a simple resemblance, which is basically transparent common-sense cognizing. The other type is more prodigious, and compares one relation (in the mathematical sense) to another. (p. 87)
This sounds amazingly like the distinction between metaphor and analogy later emphasized by Dedre Gentner.

A Digression on Margaret Mead

Wigod also quotes Terence Hawkes as quoting Margaret Mead as saying that
… the metaphor we may embody in the statement 'Love will find a way' may simply not exit in some countries, or may have an utterly different role (and so call forth appropriately different responses in others. (p. 96 in Wigod's text)
But this is almost certainly a spurious quote. The source seems to be a passage from Mead's 1949 book Male and Female:
To get some sense of the experience an anthropologist brings to the consideration of a human problem, let us take the simple statement "Love will find a way," a well-worn and well-loved adage of our own tradition. To a young American, this phrase will conjure up images of difficult transportation, a determined young man thumbing his way across the United States, or driving thirty-six hours stopping only for hot dogs, to get there in time to see his girl—before she sails or decides to marry someone else. Or it may mean the way in which a girl plans, and saves, and even sews, to divise the dress that she then wears to the dance where she knows her estranged lover will see her and may choose her again. Through one's head will pass a variety of plots and incidents: motor cars, jobs, shortages of cash, failures of plane connections, occasionally even recalcitrant parents if the lovers are young enough or the parents rich enough for their views to matter. Mixed up with images from one's own experience will be snatches of scenes from movies, from novels, from radio serials, occasional images of Tom Mix riding across the plains, or Ingrid Bergman in some over-intense role, perhaps a line or so from Romeo and Juliet, or a couplet from an old valentine.
I don't have the rest of the quote, but I can see that it occurs in chapter 2 of the book ("How an Anthropologist Writes"), on page 35 of the 1949 edition, if I'm not mistaken.

The Works

In addition to these texts, Wigod cites the following useful references:

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