Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

Using Figurative Language

$102.99 (C)

  • Date Published: November 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107105652

$ 102.99 (C)

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Paperback, eBook

Looking for an examination copy?

If you are interested in the title for your course we can consider offering an examination copy. To register your interest please contact providing details of the course you are teaching.

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • Using Figurative Language presents results from a multidisciplinary decades-long study of figurative language that addresses the question, “Why don't people just say what they mean?” This research empirically investigates goals speakers or writers have when speaking (writing) figuratively, and concomitantly, meaning effects wrought by figurative language usage. These “pragmatic effects” arise from many kinds of figurative language including metaphors (e.g., “This computer is a dinosaur”), verbal irony (e.g., “Nice place you got here”), idioms (e.g., “Bite the bullet”), proverbs (e.g., “Don't put all your eggs in one basket”) and others. Reviewed studies explore mechanisms – linguistic, psychological social and others, underlying pragmatic effects, some traced to basic processes embedded in human sensory, perceptual, embodied, cognitive, social and schematic functioning. The book should interest readers, researchers and scholars in fields beyond psychology, linguistics and philosophy that share interests in figurative language – including language studies, communication, literary criticism, neuroscience, semiotics, rhetoric and anthropology.

    • Proposes a much more broad view of figurative language cognition that will appeal to and inspire multiple interdisciplinary constituencies that study figurative language
    • Readers will be able to understand discussed phenomena through access to vivid examples culled from authentic language data and widely available cultural sources
    • By demonstrating the deceptively complex interplay of mixed mechanisms in seemingly simple 'everyday' figurative utterances, the book will leave readers with an appreciation of the depth and complexity of figurative language
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    'The major goal of this book is to provide answers to the fundamental question, 'Why does figurative language even exist?'. Colston efficiently achieves this goal. This book, a monograph which summarizes his earlier publications on figurative language since the 1990s, has several strong points. … this book is a valuable contribution to figurative language research. It contributes insights in both theoretical and practical aspects of figurative language use and comprehension …' Weiwei Zhang, Linguist List (

    'An honourable credo towards the study of figurative language.' Günter Schmale, Lexis

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2015
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107105652
    • length: 284 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 158 x 22 mm
    • weight: 0.56kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: why don't people say what they mean?
    2. What is a pragmatic effect?
    3. What are the pragmatic effects?
    4. How is figurative language used?
    5. What is figurative language use?
    6. Conclusion: meaning happens.

  • Author

    Herbert L. Colston, University of Alberta
    Herbert L. Colston is Professor and Chair of Linguistics at the University of Alberta. Previously, he was a Professor of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin, Parkside. Dr Colston has published widely and edited several books including Figurative Language Comprehension: Social and Cultural Influences and Irony in Language and Thought: A Cognitive Science Reader (with Raymond W. Gibbs, Jr, 2007). He co-authored Interpreting Figurative Meaning (Cambridge, 2012) with Raymond Gibbs.

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×
warning icon

Turn stock notifications on?

You must be signed in to your Cambridge account to turn product stock notifications on or off.

Sign in Create a Cambridge account arrow icon

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.