September 29, 2012

Words are Power

It's always strange and comical once you realize how often you do or use something once someone has pointed it out to you. With the metaphors in everyday life, I don't think anyone really realizes that they're using them constantly intentionally or unintentionally unless you really point it out to them. For example, when these metaphors were mentioned, "Your claims are indefensible. He attacked every weak point in my argument. His criticisms were right on target. demolished his argument. I've never won an argument with him." You wouldn't normally think of these as metaphors, but they are. These were really eye opening for me, and the first thing I thought of was Locke's essay when he referred to words being abused not only in oration but in every day discourse. I think this further explains why Locke was so irritated and determined to find the "truth" in words.

Some of the essential arguments, or points at least, that were being focused on were Argument as war, Time is Money, Ideas are Objects. These metaphors are shaped by words, and we use these words in everyday discourse. The argument that was being made from this point was that the metaphors shape the way we live our lives. Time is money-this gadget can save you time, therefore saving you money. Do you agree with this idea that metaphors, or words can shape the way a culture emerges or is perceived by another country? Personally, to some extent, I think words have the power to influence people. After all, in some cultures, written words are what people live by, for example, the Bible or Koran. When metaphors that we create morph into visual constructs, do they hold more influence over us than written ones? If so, how can we change them? Do we want to change them, or do they have more power to change us? What I mean is, if metaphors really are powerful enough to influence and change a society, can't they continue to evolve through us?

Kari K


noles1128 said...


Lackoff and Johnson's article really was an eye opener for me as well. I always thought when I was using metaphors it was because I intended to. Now I see that metaphors are used unintentional. When Lackoff and Johnson mentioned, "Your claims are indefensible. He attacked every weak point in my argument. His criticisms were right on target. I demolished his argument. I've never won an argument with him," I couldn't exactly understand how everyday use of words and discourse could be used metaphorically. When I realized how we truly use metaphors, I thought about the uses of rhetoric. The speaker knows when rhetoric is being used because he or she has planned everything he or she has intended on putting in the audience's mind. However, when using metaphors, some of the time the speaker had not even realize it. Which brings me to the second type of metaphor, orientational metaphors. Similar to the first, the only difference is that orientational metaphors “one that does not structure one concept in terms of another but instead organizes a whole system of concepts with respect to one another.” They mentioned as an example about Happiness and how Happy is an “up.” One would be applying orientational metaphors when one would casually say, “I am feeling up today.” They give a concept a spatial orientation. However, just like structured metaphors, one can be oblivious when saying a statement such as “I am feeling up today” and not realize they are saying a metaphor rather than just a regular statement. Just like structured metaphors, orientational metaphors play a significant role in every type of culture, as Lackoff and Johnson mentioned earlier in their article. Having the ability and knowledge to know when someone is happy and when someone is sad is being portrayed metaphorically. I can tell when my friend is sad because her head would be down and her eyes looking to the ground. The same applies with happiness, I would be able to tell when someone is happy because they’re “up” in the sense their held is held high, and there is pep in their step. What I would have never realized before this article would have been that these signs were metaphors. Finding out that certain things are in fact unintentional makes me think, what else do I not realize I am doing?

MeganW said...

With your question asking if our metaphors can shape the way a culture emerges or is perceived by others I would have to without a doubt say yes. Are way of life or culture is what separates us from others and the way in which we go about talking to one another and trying to create meaning by sharing our past experiences to define something is in many way completely different from others. Like Locke argues it is our experiences that we use to assign meaning to a word or idea behind a word and these metaphors that we use are one of the ways that we try to do this. When Lakoff and Johnson speak of time being money this phrase works in our culture because money is something that we deem important to our livelihood so wasted time is less money that we have, however, for a culture that does not rely on money but maybe trade time is money as no bearing on them. It would be better off to say time is crops. Although this statement sounds silly to us because we don't rely on our crops to create a living other countries or people might and this is what separates us because are conceptual way of thinking may be the same but the meaning we assign to things or the meanings we take out of them are completely different.

Shawn Binder said...

I agree with the idea that metaphors can change US. I think until we have the experience to understand certain metaphors, they're just words to us. As a child I would never have understood fighting with someone and feeling "under siege." As I grow I not only understand that metaphor, but it changes the way I feel about fighting. I could be verbally fighting with someone then all the sudden make the connection and feel more hurt that I was "under siege." If that idea is coherent. What I mean to say is that I believe that as we begin to understand metaphors in our society more, the more we can't help but to think in terms of them more and more. We prescribe to how these metaphors are supposed to make us feel because it's easier to put a label on emotions and ideas this way. It makes us feel less lost in our discourse.

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