Metaphor is a term with a long history, notably within literary traditions where it is a literary ‘device’ whereby one object or process is described in terms of another for rhetorical purposes. For instance, metaphor may be used to give a heightened effect or to provide a particular perspective on a process. Lakoff and Johnson claim that metaphors play a crucial role in systematically structuring concepts, not just language.
Charles Forceville is a cognitivist linguist who has made a significant contribution to theorizing the area of multimodal metaphor that is looking at how metaphors structure concepts across a range of modes. Forceville (2009) defines multimodal metaphors as follows: ‘Multimodal metaphors are metaphors whose target and source are each represented exclusively or predominantly in different modes’. He distinguishes modes that are written language, spoken language, visuals, sound, music, gesture (as well as olfaction, taste, and touch).
Most work on multimodal metaphor within Cognitive linguistics pertains to the interaction between visuals and written language or gestures and spoken language. There is also some work on the contributions of sound and music to metaphor (see Forceville and Urios-Aparisi, 2009). Within the Cognitive Linguistics paradigm, there are two strands that pioneer multimodal metaphor/multimodal discourse analysis: Forceville’s work on pictorial/visual and multimodal metaphor; and work that focuses on the interrelation between gestures and spoken language notably work by Cornelia Mueller, Alan Cienki, and Irene Mittelberg who focus on conceptual metaphor as manifest in non-verbal modalities.
Editor: Carey Jewitt
Other contributor: Charles Forceville
Bounegru, L. and Forceville, C. (2011)
‘Metaphors in editorial cartoons representing the global financial crisis‘
Visual communication, 10, 2, 209-229
Forceville, C. and Urios-Aparisi, E. (2009)
Mouton de Gruyter