Posts Tagged ‘metaphor’

  • False and flying colours in metaphor

    Posted by on March 31, 2014

    Colour has many figurative and metaphorical uses, independent of physics, that can reflect our identity or nature more or less directly. People might show their true colours by making an off-colour remark, or we might say the local colour of a town has brought colour to some event. I want to highlight here a particular […]

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  • What is metonymy? Enquiring minds want to know

    Posted by on December 09, 2013

    Metonymy is a figure of speech which, though common, easily goes unnoticed. It’s when you replace the name of something with the name of another thing closely associated with it, or (defined more broadly) with the name of one of its parts or attributes. The word literally means ‘change of name’ – it has the […]

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  • Stories behind Words: red line

    Posted by on September 18, 2013

    If you saw a line would you cross it? To do so might have serious consequences, as Chandler discovered when he kissed Joey’s girlfriend in series 4 of Friends: Chandler: I have no excuses. I was totally over the line. Joey: Over the line? You … you … you’re so far past the line that […]

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  • Seeding, weeding, map-reading, heeding

    Posted by on August 26, 2013

    In my previous post I described the metaphor of ‘building a house‘ as one way of understanding the process of language acquisition, and suggested that it contains more than a grain of truth, but has its limitations. Now I’d like to consider two other metaphors. Firstly, perhaps learning a language is like tending a garden. […]

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  • Getting a new language

    Posted by on August 12, 2013

    The meanings of acquire listed in the Macmillan Dictionary include: 1 to get something, for example by buying it or being given it 2 to get new knowledge or a new skill by learning it 5 to gradually develop or learn something Which of these definitions best applies to the process of acquiring a second […]

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  • Bye bye, palm reading! Welcome, gene reading! DNA and other clinical metaphors

    Posted by on May 02, 2013

    Today’s guest post comes from Janet Byron Anderson. Dr. Anderson is a medical editor and runs Medical Linguistics Consulting. Her book Sick English: Medicalization in the English Language is available at Amazon.com. _______________ If you’re of a certain cast of mind and want to know your prospects for life, death, and happiness you can open […]

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  • It’s all in the genes: DNA and metaphor

    Posted by on April 23, 2013

    Sixty years ago this week, the journal Nature published Francis Crick and James Watson’s groundbreaking paper on deoxyribonucleic acid, which described for the first time the double helix shape of the DNA molecule. As often happens with scientific and technical vocabulary, the term DNA soon broke out of the specialized field in which it originated, […]

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  • “I’m in love. I’m all shook up.” Metaphors of love and relationships

    Posted by on February 14, 2013

    Many of you would have watched James Geary‘s popular TED talk about metaphor from a few years back. In his presentation he calls on the ‘King of Metaphorians’ Elvis Presley to discuss literary metaphor, but his talk also touches on conceptual metaphor – a unique feature of Macmillan Dictionary. To celebrate Valentine’s Day, this post […]

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  • The steep rise of ‘fiscal cliff’

    Posted by on December 10, 2012

    A familiar feature at this time of year is the series of Word of the Year announcements, with language professionals and pundits choosing the terms they think best characterise the last 12 months. Political and economic words are often chosen, as they recur in news stories of interest or relevance to the general public. For […]

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  • On the metaphor of sock puppets

    Posted by on September 18, 2012

    Last week’s Open Dictionary word of the week was sock puppetry, defined by a reader as the act of “writing very flattering reviews of one’s own book on sites such as Amazon, but using a different name…”. It’s in the news at the moment because some popular authors were found to have used the tactic […]

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