The emblem as metaphor

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Emblems contain inner metaphors – precision for “OK,” the so-called conduit metaphor for the grappolo, for example. Other metaphors are Up is Good, Bad is Down in “thumbs up/down,” and Beams and Obstacles in “warding-off” (including the “horn”). Cultures historically pick metaphors, codify them with standards of form and function, ensure social standardization and intergenerational transmission, and the inner metaphor does not disappear. No emblem or “quotable gesture” in Kendon’s study of Neapolitan emblems appears to reverse or contradict its inner metaphor. North America and Naples both use the “ring” as a metaphor of precision but differ in how it is used: approbation in North America, authorization in Naples. Finally, emblems become “magical.”


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