Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Using semantic feature norms to investigate how the visual and verbal modes afford metaphor construction and expression*

<span class='sc'>abstract</span>

In this study, two modalities of expression (verbal and visual) are compared and contrasted, in relation to their ability and their limitations to construct and express metaphors. A representative set of visual metaphors and a representative set of linguistic metaphors are here compared, and the semantic similarity between metaphor terms is modeled within the two sets. Such similarity is operationalized in terms of semantic features produced by informants in a property generation task (e.g., McRae et al., 2005). Semantic features provide insights into conceptual content, and play a role in deep conceptual processing, as opposed to shallow linguistic processing. Thus, semantic features appear to be useful for modeling metaphor comprehension, assuming that metaphors are matters of thought rather than simple figures of speech (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980). The question tackled in this paper is whether semantic features can account for the similarity between metaphor terms of both visual and verbal metaphors. For this purpose, a database of semantic features was collected and then used to analyze fifty visual metaphors and fifty verbal metaphors. It was found that the number of semantic features shared between metaphor terms is predicted by the modality of expression of the metaphor: the terms compared in visual metaphors share semantic features, while the terms compared in verbal metaphors do not. This suggests that the two modalities of expression afford different ways to construct and express metaphors.

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

L. W. Barsalou , A. Santos , W. K. Simmons , & C. D Wilson . (2008). Language and simulation in conceptual processing. In M. De Vega , A. M. Glenberg , & A. C. A. Graesser (Eds.), Symbols, embodiment, and meaning (pp. 245283). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

J. R. Binder , R. H. Desai , W. W. Graves , & L. L Conant . (2009). Where is the semantic system? A critical review and meta-analysis of 120 functional neuroimaging studies. Cerebral Cortex, 19(12), 27672796.

L. Boroditsky , & J Prinz . (2008). What thoughts are made of. In G. Semin & E. Smith (Eds.), Embodied grounding: social, cognitive, affective, and neuroscientific approaches (pp. 98115). New York: Cambridge University Press.

L. Bounegru , & C Forceville . (2011). Metaphors in editorial cartoons representing the global financial crisis. Visual Communication, 10(2), 209229.

P. Bright , H. Moss , & L Tyler . (2004). Unitary vs. multiple semantics: PET studies of word and picture processing. Brain and Language, 89, 417432.

M. Chee , B. Weekes , K. Lee , C. Soon , A. Schreiber , I. Hoon , & M Chee . (2000). Overlap and dissociation of semantic processing of Chinese characters, English words, and pictures. Neuroimage, 12, 392403.

G. Cree , & K McRae . (2003). Analyzing the factors underlying the structure and computation of the meaning of chipmunk, cherry, chisel, cheese, and cello and many other such concrete nouns. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 132, 163201.

G. S. Cree , K. McRae , & C McNorgan . (1999). An attractor model of lexical conceptual processing: simulating semantic priming. Cognitive Science, 23, 371414.

J. Davidoff , & R De Bleser . (1994). Impaired picture recognition with preserved object naming and reading. Brain and Cognition, 24, 123.

C Forceville . (1996). Pictorial metaphors in advertising. London: Routledge.

C Forceville . (2016a). Pictorial and multimodal metaphor. In N. Klug & H. Stöckl (Eds.), Handbuch Sprache im multimodalen Kontext [The Language in Multimodal Contexts Handbook] (Linguistic Knowledge Series). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

L. Gates , & M Yoon . (2005). Distinct and shared cortical regions of the human brain activated by pictorial depictions versus verbal descriptions: an fMRI study. Neuroimage, 24, 473486.

D Gentner . (1989). The mechanisms of analogical learning. In S. Vosniadou & A. Ortony (Eds.), Similarity and analogical reasoning (pp. 199241). New York: Cambridge University Press.

C. Goodall , M. Slater , & T Myers . (2013). Fear and anger responses to local news coverage of alcohol-related crimes, accidents, and injuries: explaining news effects on policy support using a representative sample of messages and people. Journal of Communication, 63, 373392.

M. Gorno-Tempini , C. Price , O. Josephs , R. Vandenberghe , S. Cappa , N. Kapur , & R Frackowiak . (1998). The neural systems sustaining face and proper-name processing. Brain, 121, 21032118.

R. Grondin , S. J. Lupker , & K McRae . (2009). Shared features dominate semantic richness effects for concrete concepts. Journal of Memory & Language, 60,119.

U. Hasson , I. Levy , M. Behrmann , T. Hendler , & R Malach . (2002). Eccentricity bias as an organizing principle for human high-order object areas. Neuron, 34, 490497.

G Lakoff . (1987). Women, fire, and dangerous things. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

M. Louwerse , & S Hutchinson . (2012). Neurological evidence linguistic processes precede perceptual simulation in conceptual processing. Frontiers in Psychology, 3, 385.

K. McRae , G. S. Cree , M. S. Seidenberg , & C McNorgan . (2005). Semantic feature production norms for a large set of living and nonliving things. Behavior Research Methods, 37, 547559.

K. McRae , G. S. Cree , R. Westmacott , & V. R de Sa . (1999). Further evidence for feature correlations in semantic memory. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology: Special Issue on Models of Word Recognition, 53, 360373.

C. Moore , & C Price . (1999). Three distinct posterior basal temporal lobe regions for reading and object naming. Neuroimage, 10, 181192.

M. J Ortiz . (2011). Primary metaphors and monomodal visual metaphors. Journal of Pragmatics, 43, 15681580.

L Pérez Hernández . (2014). Cognitive grounding for cross-cultural commercial communication. Cognitive Linguistics, 25(2), 203247.

P. Pexman , G. Holyk , & M Monfils . (2003). Number of features effects and semantic processing. Memory & Cognition, 31, 842855.

P. M. Pexman , S. J. Lupker , & Y Hino . (2002). The impact of feedback semantics in visual word recognition: number of features effects in lexical decision and naming tasks. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 9, 542549.

B. Phillips , & E McQuarrie . (2004). Beyond visual metaphor: a new typology of visual rhetoric in advertising. Marketing Theory, 4, 113136.

J. Reinholz , & S Pollmann . (2005). Differential activation of object-selective visual areas by passive viewing of pictures and words. Cognitive Brain Research, 24, 702714.

J. R. Shelton , & A Caramazza . (1999). Deficits in lexical and semantic processing: implications for models of normal language. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 6, 527.

W. Simmons , S. Hamann , C. Harenski , X. Hu , & L Barsalou . (2008). fMRI evidence for word association and situated simulation in conceptual processing. Journal of Physiology Paris, 102, 106119.

G Steen . (2008) The paradox of metaphor: why we need a three-dimensional model of metaphor. Metaphor and Symbol, 23(4), 213241.

G. Steen , L. Dorst , B. Herrmann , A. Kaal , T. Krennmayr , & T Pasma . (2010). A method for linguistic metaphor identification: from MIP to MIPVU. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

A Tversky . (1977). Features of similarity. Psychological Review, 84, 327352.

D. Vinson , & G Vigliocco . (2008). Semantic feature production norms for a large set of objects and events. Behavior Research Methods, 40, 183190.

L. Wu , & L Barsalou . (2009). Perceptual simulation in conceptual combination: evidence from property generation. Acta Psychologica, 132, 173189.

M. Brysbaert , A. Warriner , & V Kuperman . (2014). Concreteness ratings for 40 thousand generally known English word lemmas. Behavior Research Methods, 46, 904911.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Language and Cognition
  • ISSN: 1866-9808
  • EISSN: 1866-9859
  • URL: /core/journals/language-and-cognition
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 5
Total number of PDF views: 42 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 281 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 18th October 2016 - 17th August 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.