Dissertation
Dissertation > Language, writing > Linguistics > Semantics,pragmatics,lexicology, meaning school > Semantics, pragmatics

A Cognitive-pragmatic Approach to Novel Metaphor in Daily Speech

Author HanJunFang
Tutor GaoGuiXiang
School Hebei Normal
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords novel metaphor relevance theory explicature implicature cognition communication
CLC H030
Type Master's thesis
Year 2006
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Metaphor is common and natural in language. Generally speaking, there are two kinds of metaphor in daily speech: conventional metaphor and novel metaphor.In the classical point of view, conventional metaphor and novel metaphor are a set of clear-cut metaphors. According to relevance theory, there is no discontinuity between them. Novel metaphor, as a kind of loose talk, requires no special mechanisms in its production and interpretations, and it is a normal use of language. Metaphor understanding needs no special mechanism but simply results from the search for an interpretation consistent with the principle of relevance. Metaphors vary in the strength and range of implicatures they communicate.This thesis is an attempt to study novel metaphors in daily speech in a cognitive-pragmatic approach. The theoretical basis is Relevance theory which is based on the definition of relevance and two principles of relevance: a Cognitive Principle (that human cognition is geared to the maximization of relevance), and a Communicative Principle (that utterances create expectations of optimal relevance). Consistency with the principle of relevance is the guiding criterion that novel metaphors are interpreted. Sperber and Wilson’s relevance theory offers an alternative view to the context. They amply illustrate that the context is not given but chosen, which is a vital part of the interpretation process.Given the relevance theory, metaphoricalness is a matter of degree of departure from literalness: a degree of resemblance between the thought and the utterance. Novel metaphor is a loose use of language whose prepositional form resembles the thought of the speaker. There are two dimensions of language use: descriptive dimensions and interpretive dimensions. Novel metaphor falls together with descriptive uses of language.Then, the cognitive-pragmatic process of novel metaphor understanding is offered. It’s a process seeking optimal relevance, involving three sub-tasks: (a)constructing an appropriate hypothesis about explicit content (in relevance theoretic terms, explicatures) via decoding, disambiguation, reference resolution, and other pragmatic enrichment processes;(b) constructing an appropriate hypothesis about the intended contextual assumptions (in relevance-theoretic terms, implicated premises);(c) constructing an appropriate hypothesis about the intended contextual implications (in relevance-theoretic terms, implicated conclusions).Finally, cognitive and communicative functions of novel metaphor production are discussed. Novel metaphor performs as cognitive instrument and communicative device. The poetic effects achieved by novel metaphor cannot be paraphrased without loss. Novel metaphor is an economic way to achieve the optimal relevance of the speaker’s utterance. It is normal and necessary in daily speech.This study shows that relevance theory is powerful and effective in an account of novel metaphor in daily speech.

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