Chapter 1. A view of “mixed metaphor” within a conceptual metaphor theory framework

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How does conceptual metaphor theory handle mixed metaphors? Several metaphor scholars argue that mixed metaphor is a phenomenon that conceptual metaphor theory cannot handle. Their argument is that, given the claims of conceptual metaphor theory, mixed metaphors should not occur at all. This is because once a conceptual metaphor is activated in discourse by means of a linguistic metaphor, that conceptual metaphor should lead to and support the use of further linguistic examples of the same conceptual metaphor. However, in real discourse, the argument goes, most metaphors are mixed, which indicates that conceptual metaphors are not activated and thus do not lead to further consistent linguistic metaphors of the same conceptual metaphor. In the paper, I will argue that the idea of the production of consistent and homogeneous linguistic examples does not necessarily follow from conceptual metaphor theory and that, as a matter of fact, the opposite is the case: given conceptual metaphor theory, we should expect the use of mixed metaphors in natural discourse.


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