Metaphor in Discourse

N. Asher, A. Lascarides

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract / Description of output

This paper focuses on metaphor and the interpretation of metaphor and a discourse setting. There have been several accounts put forward by eminent philosophers of language – Max Black, John Searle and Donald Davidson, among others – but none of them are satisfactory. The offer a few rules for metaphoric interpretation, but many of them are redundant, and they form a list without much coherence.

Many have thought that the principles of metaphorical interpretation cannot be formally specified. We'll attack this position with two claims. Our first claim is that some aspects of metaphor productive, and this productivity can be captured by perspicuous links between generalisations that are specified in the lexicon, and general purpose circumscriptive reasoning in the pragmatic component. Indeed from a methodological perspective, we would claim the productive aspects of metaphor can give the lexicographer clues about how to represent semantic information in lexical entries.

Moreover, it is well known that domain knowledge influences metaphorical interpretation. Our second claim takes this further, and we argue that rhetorical relations – such as Elaboration, Contrast, and Parallel, among others – that connect the meanings of segments of text together, also influence this. Through studying these cases, we learn how to link lexical processing to discourse processing in a formal framework, and we give some preliminary accounts of the link between words and discourse determine metaphor.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the AAAI Spring Symposium Series: Representation and Acquisition of Lexical Knowledge: Polysemy, Ambiguity and Generativity
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 1995


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