JoLIE 10:1/2017


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Mara Sophia Zanotto, Lynne Cameron, and Marilda C. Cavalcanti (Eds.) Confronting metaphor in use. An applied linguistic approach. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 2008. Pp. vii-315. ISBN 978-90-272-5417-7



Reviewed by Crina Herteg, 1 Decembrie 1918 University of Alba Iulia



The book edited by Mara Sophia Zanotto, Lynne Cameron and Marilda C. Cavalcanti is based on the conference Metaphor in language and thought held in Sao Paolo, Brazil, 2002. The editors share the idea that metaphors influence and dictate the way in which we understand ourselves and others, as well as Lakoff and Johnson’s hypotheses that metaphors pertain to a large array of aspects, contexts and settings in our everyday life: classroom, professional settings, talks, or the workplace.

The book is preceded by an introduction and it is divided into four parts: Part 1 Investigating the nature of metaphor in use, Part 2 Examining metaphor in corpora, Part 3 Understanding metaphor in language education, Part 4 Using metaphor as a tool in professional development. At their turn all the four parts are divided into chapters. Part 1 comprises four contributions: 1. Opening Pandora`s box: Multiple readings of ‘a metaphor’ by Mara Sophia Zanotto and Dieli Vesaro Palma, 2. Metaphor shifting in the dynamics of talk by Lynne Cameron, 3. Adding sound to the picture: motivating the lexical composition of metaphorical idioms in English, Dutch, and Spanish by Frank Boers and Hélène Stengers, 4. Metaphor and positioning in academic book reviews by Graham Low. Part 2 encompasses four contributions as follows: 1. Brothers in arms: Contradictory metaphors in contemporary marketing discourse by Veronika Koller, 2. Metaphor probabilities in corpora by Tony Berber Sardinha, 3. Corpus linguistic data and conceptual metaphor theory by Alice Deignan, 4. Exploring metaphors in corpora: A study of "war" in corpus generated data by Solange Vereza. Part 3 is made up of two contributions: 1. Young learners` understanding of figurative language by Ana M. Piquer-Piriz. and 2. The relationship between associative thinking, analogical reasoning, image formation and metaphoric extension strategies by Jeannette Littlemore. Part 4 includes the following contributions: 1. The awakening of Sleeping Beauty. A teacher`s metaphor of professional development of language teaching by Joao A. Telles, 2. En route through metaphors. Chatrooms as safe places to deal with difficulties in an online course by Marilda C. Cavalcanti and Ana Cecilia Bizon, 3. School teachers in favela contexts. Metaphors they live by by Fernanda Coelho Liberali, 4. Professional knowledge landscape. A metaphor to conceive of email practices in business settings by Maximina M. Freire.

The editors announce the key topics of the book that are related to variation in both linguistic and conceptual metaphors. The contributors try to offer a different perspective on conceptual metaphor: more connected to its role in discourse, as metaphors analysed in this book are captured in real language. The authors underline the previous pictures of metaphor as a matter of thought and they consider it is time to move to a higher level, that of embedding metaphor in discourse, the real lives across the very different cultures of Europe and Brazil. The authors consider that embedding metaphors in discourse offers a multi-faceted phenomenon, underlining that the understanding of metaphors would be incomplete without knowledge of how metaphor operates in its discourse environment. (Zanotto, Cameron, & Cavalcanti 2008:2).

In Chapter 1 Mara Sophia Zanotto and Dieli Vesaro Palma offer multiple perspectives on metaphor. The authors interpret metaphor in a different key, starting from two principles governing metaphors: the determinacy principle and the indeterminacy principle. The authors consider that a deep theoretical and empirical investigation is necessary in order to map the different kinds of indeterminacy found in metaphor. The authors link indeterminacy of metaphors to semantics and pragmatics stating that the theoreticians in the field of semantics and pragmatics who deal with indeterminacy have not deeply discussed the specific case of metaphor. Zanotto tries to identify whether metaphors are relying on the principle of determinacy or indeterminacy. She supports her analysis on Gibbs 1987 and Black 1979. In her investigation, Zanotto adopts a qualitative methodology and the technique used in The Group-Think Aloud Technique, drawing on the advantages of resorting to Group-Think Aloud as it presents advantages from a pedagogical point of view. The technique introduced by Zanotto entails multiple readings of a text/metaphor; it has the advantage that it generates a large amount of data. The setting in which Zanotto’s experiment takes place is the classroom, students read a poem and identify metaphors, which turn the technique into a pedagogical tool as well.

Chapter 2 Metaphor shifting in the dynamics of talk by Lynne Cameron introduces the concept of metaphor shifting and explores what happens to a metaphor after it has been first used. Shifting is analysed from the perspective of what language users do with the vehicle, its connecting concepts and lexical fields in the dynamic flux of language use. Lynne Cameron analyses the phenomenon of metaphor shifting in two contexts and types of talk: school classroom, conciliation talk, which differ in discourse, context, participants and purposes. The approach to metaphor adopted by Cameron in this chapter is dynamic and discourse-based.

Chapter 3 Adding sound to the picture: motivating the lexical composition of metaphorical idioms in English, Dutch, and Spanish by Frank Boers and Hélène Stengers investigates the lexical composition of a core category of conventional metaphorical expressions: figurative idioms.  The aim of the article is to investigate whether it might be possible to motivate the precise lexical composition of idioms, why certain word combinations rather than others are standard choice. The authors highlight the idea that cognitive semantics sheds new light on the meaning of conventional metaphorical expressions in that it argues that the meaning of many idioms is motivated, explainable. The authors show that the meaning of idioms is motivated by the original, literal usage of the expression.

In Chapter 4 authored by Graham Low the author undergoes an analysis of book reviews. The author notices that Book reviews do not benefit from specialists’ attention and suggests Positioning theory as a means of analysing them. Positioning theory is based on the idea that social relations are primarily constructed and maintained in terms of conversations and that the participants repeatedly position and reposition themselves in a fluid way within and across interactions. The methodology used by the author consists of compiling a small corpus consisting of 20 book reviews populated with texts from science journals and social science journals.

The author concludes by saying that positioning by the reviewer differs in the corpus of book reviews. All reviewers position themselves with respect to the author, most position themselves with respect to the readers.Positioning is achieved by a range of linguistic devices: extreme formulation, emotional lexis, humour, direct questions, indexicals, metaphor. Metaphors contribute to positionings in various ways: they flag reviewers` expertise and status, they highlight points where reviewer status is problematic, they help repair lapses of status.

Brothers in arms: Contradictory metaphors in contemporary marketing discourse by Veronika Koller aims at showing how far the sub-discourse of relationship marketing has changed the cognitive underpinning of contemporary marketing discourse. The analysis relies on two different corpora and integrate three sub-analyses to ensure both scope and depth as well as comparisons between data. The methods the author resorts to are quantitative analysis to ascertain the absolute and relative frequency of metaphoric expressions of war and relationship to get a handle on the scope of those metaphors in marketing discourse.

Metaphor probabilities in corpora by Tony Berber Sardinha aims to take a closer look at metaphor frequency in language by focussing on an aspect that has received scant attention so far: metaphor probability. The author undertakes his analysis on a corpus of Brazilian Portuguese, but he tells us that the approach he is using can be applied to other languages as well. Tony Berber Sardinha searches for probabilities in studying metaphors and he realizes that a search on the internet for metaphor probabilities yields no results. The author starts from the assumption that his work is totally novel as no other researchers delved into metaphor probabilities before. In addition to broadening our understanding of the pervasiveness of metaphor in language use, a probabilistic account has practical applications as well, one of those is to use probabilities as means for ranking word senses in dictionaries.

Alice Deignan’s contribution Corpus linguistic data and conceptual metaphor theory is in line with the view and arguments that the book as a whole makes: developing an accurate understanding of the way metaphor is used in various contexts is important both for research in applied linguistics and for the development of language instruction manuals. Deignan draws on the pedagogical benefits metaphors bring in language teaching/learning. The author argues that linguistic metaphor in use has characteristics not explained by current theoretical models. To this end, the author proposes to develop a theory that accounts for these characteristics and is at the same time coherent with what is known about cognitive aspects of metaphor.

In chapter Exploring metaphors in corpora: A study of "war" in corpus generated data Solange Vereza draws on the interdisciplinary character of metaphors as they represent the object of study for different fields of activity: philosophers, cognitive linguists, educators, applied linguists. The aim of the chapter is to illustrate how the metaphoricity of words can be better understood through a study of corpus-driven collocations and more generally through electronic analyses of corpora. Solange Vereza investigates the headword war in different collocational patterning.

In chapter Young learners’ understanding of figurative language Ana M. Piquer-Piriz refers to research on the growth of competence with metaphor and metonymy in childhood. The author conducted a research with 7 year-old Spanish children learning English as a foreign language to find out if 7 year-old children appreciate figurative meaning extensions in English learnt as a foreign language and what reasoning do these children use to motivate the predictions of particular figurative meaning extensions. The author proves that the children she analysed in particular contexts are able to set up links between different uses of a term and they search for similarity and contiguity. Linguistically this is reflected in their capacity to create comparisons, creative similes and metonymies.

Chapter 2 of Part 3 authored by Jeannette Littlemore deals with figurative extension of word meanings and devises strategies on how to deal with teaching figurative extension to non-native students who learn English. It also refers to how to approach figurative extension in a teaching context, more exactly in teaching English to non-native students learning English. Jeannette Littlemore investigates the extent to which it is possible to train learners in the use of metaphoric extensions strategies to understand words and expressions whose meanings have been metaphorically extended. In the study drawn by Jeannette Littlemore the author relies on the hypothesis that highly imageable words are more likely to be interpreted through metaphoric extension strategies. The author states that we should encourage students to employ metaphoric extension strategies even when the imageability of the item is not so immediately apparent. Jeannette Littlemore is of the opinion that more research is required to investigate the influence of factors such as learning context and cultural background on the effectiveness of metaphoric extension strategies.

The awakening of Sleeping Beauty. A teacher’s metaphor of professional development of language teaching by Joao A. Telles refers to the use of metaphors as a tool in the teaching process. The author identifies the metaphors related to the notions of professional development and of language teaching. The entire chapter is based on the teaching profession viewed through the lenses of a Brazilian teacher of Portuguese. The author practically collects and explains the metaphors recorded in the dialogue he has with Meire. Behind this we can see the pedagogical principles guiding Meire as well as the author who shares the same principles.

The chapter En route through metaphors. Chatrooms as safe places to deal with difficulties in an online course by Marilda C. Cavalcanti and Ana Cecilia Bizon draws on the pragmatic approach of metaphors. In the first part of the chapter the authors define the concepts they operate with: pragmatic approach to metaphors, positioning, identification of metaphors. The authors imagine the teaching process as a boat in which the students are travellers, the teachers are in command of the boat, difficulties are related to obstacles, the boat is the provisional shelter of the students.

Chapter 3 of Part 4 School teachers in favela contexts. Metaphors they live by by Fernanda Coelho Liberali refers to the author`s transformation as a teacher and the changes that occurred in her teaching profession as well as the facts that brought about these changes. These transformations witnessed by the author are related to the use and integration of metaphors and metonymies in the teaching process as a tool in the process of teacher education. The author believes that the teacher`s school communities may lead to a better understanding of their teaching contexts and may provide them with a better chance to review their actions in terms of wider community and global context. The author sees metaphors as a potential bridge between language and thought. The context of the article pertains to continuous development programs addressed to poor English teachers in Brazil. The author focusses on analysing 32 teachers involved in these programs, mainly the teachers` use of figurative language when speaking about their classes. The method consists of free discussions between the author of the article and the teachers participating in the program and belonging to the target group in which teachers were asked to describe the surroundings of the school, background. The metaphors used to describe the school environment pertain to the Brazilian school environment and cannot be transferred to any other school environment.

The last chapter of the book, Professional knowledge landscape. A metaphor to conceive of email practices in business settings, authored by Maximina M. Freire analyses the contexts in which the landscape metaphor is used, as well as the previous uses of this metaphor, focussing on professional communication in English as a business environment. The author starts from the hypothesis that professionals unconsciously take advantage of a particular kind of knowledge that becomes tacit through continuous engagement in practice. These professionals undergo their activities without reflecting and paying attention to routine procedure they follow.

The context pertains to the analysis of the findings of a research project focussed on the interaction in English through computers within business settings from the viewpoint of five Brazilian professionals who worked for three different corporations located in Sao Paolo. The method consists of collecting data during reflective meetings the author had with each professional. Brazilian professionals account of email experiences lived at work and their meanings were made explicit through recollections and reflections upon work-related routines. Reflections upon the electronic correspondence conveyed in English led the practitioners to linguistic insight as well as to innovative perceptions of their routines at work which comprised a body of representations, meanings and professional knowledge that was built through experiences and expressed the shared accounts of the professionals’ experience. Perception of the reflective process upon practice through the lenses of landscape metaphor allowed the participants to become enquirers into their own practices and interpreters of their own lived experience, they reached higher levels of professional and linguistic self-awareness. The discussions with the five practitioners enabled the author to be in touch with different but complementary perceptions of email practices in business contexts. The findings enabled the author to contextualise and interpret research-based outcomes revealing not only the nature of email activities in business settings, but also the way professionals live, understand and place computer-mediated communication practices within the dimensions of their respective landscapes.





Deignan, A. (2005). Metaphor and corpus linguistics. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.


Koller, V. (2006). Of critical importance: Using electronic text corpora to study metaphor in business media discourse. In A. Stefanowitsch, & S. Th. Gries (Eds.), Corpus-based approach to metaphor and metonymy (pp. 237-266). Berlin/ New York: Mouton de Gruyter.


Littlemore, J., Chen, P., Koester, A., & Barden, J. (2011). Difficulties in metaphor comprehension faced by international students whose first language is not English. Applied linguistics, 32(4), 408-429. DOI:


Sardinha, T.B. (2012). Metaphors of the Brazilian economy from 1964 to 2010. In H. Herrera-Soler, & M. White, (Eds.), Metaphors and mills. Figurative language in business and economics (pp. 103-126). Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.


Zanotto, M.S., Cameron, L., & Cavalcanti, M.C. (2008). (Eds.). Confronting metaphor in use. An applied linguistic approach. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.



How to cite this article: Herțeg, C. (2017). BOOK REVIEW. Mara Sophia Zanotto, Lynne Cameron, and Marilda C. Cavalcanti (Eds.) Confronting metaphor in use. An applied linguistic approach. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 2008. Pp. vii-315. ISBN 978-90-272-5417-7. Journal of Linguistic and Intercultural Education – JoLIE, 10(1), 187-192. DOI:



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