Uncanny Resemblance: Words, pictures, and conceptual representations in the field of metaphor

Cognitive Linguistic Studies 7 (1):31-57 (2020)
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What is the relation between the three following elements: words, pictures, and conceptual representations? And how do these three elements work, in defining and explaining metaphors? These are the questions that we tackle in our interdisciplinary contribution, which moves across cognitive linguistics, cognitive sciences, philosophy and semiotics. Within the cognitive linguistic tradition, scholars have assumed that there are equivalent and comparable structures characterizing the way in which metaphor works in language and in pictures. In this paper we analyze contextual visual metaphors, which are considered to be the most complex ones, and we compare them to those that in language are called indirect metaphors. Our proposal is that a syllogistic mechanism of comprehension permeates both metaphors expressed in the verbal modality as well as metaphors expressed in the pictorial modality. While in the verbal modality the metaphoric syllogism is solved by inference, we argue that in the pictorial modality the role of inference is performed through mental imagery.



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Alessandro Cavazzana
University of Venice

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