Dynamical systems metaphors

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In order to explore the role that ‘dynamical systems theory’ plays as an overarchingconceptual source domain in the genre of educational scientifictexts covering six distinct subject areas (cognitive psychology, linguistics,transportation studies, social psychology, evolutionary biology and businessmanagement), I examined the lower-level metaphors underlying this complexsource domain. Corpus analyses of professional education literature revealedunderlying metaphors of force dynamics, movement, object manipulation, andpersonification. Novel metaphors or novel extensions of conventional metaphorswere few. Findings document a proliferation of extensions and elaborationsof conventional metaphor groupings. The identified conceptual metaphorswere linked by (a) lexical co-occurrences and (b) metaphoric implications notlexically expressed. Figurative context appears to aid the learner’s understanding,although some metaphors and combinations confound explanations of keyaspects of dynamical systems. Suggestions are made that could enhance theoverall pedagogical usefulness of the metaphors found.


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