God's Gift of Metaphor
Josh Mayo on George MacDonald & the Christian Imagination
Often we think of figurative speech as something for the poets, a special way of talking or writing. But as George Lakoff and Mark Johnson demonstrated in their landmark study, Metaphors We Live By (1980), metaphor pervades our ordinary way of speaking: "My computer isn't running." "I didn't connect with that thought." "It's growing dark." Everyday expressions like these, they say, reveal how ordinary language is often charged with figurative imagery.
The reach of these figures in human cognition is greater than we might first imagine. Lakoff and Johnson treat extensively what they call the "systematicity" of metaphors, arguing that especially powerful figures form "conceptual networks" of related metaphorical expressions that are webbed throughout our ordinary speech. Consider some commonplaces from what they call the "Argument Is War" network of metaphors:
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Josh Mayo teaches in the English Department and Writing Program at Grove City College and has written for other publications of Christian thought, including First Things. He and his wife Bethany have two sons, Ezra Wallis and Silas Andrew, and attend Grace Anglican Church in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania.
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