Functional Linguistics and Contrastive Description
  • ISSN 1387-6759
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9897
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In this paper I want to explore the systemic-functional notion of ‘grammatical metaphor’ from a cross-linguistic perspective. After a brief introduction to the concept of ‘grammatical metaphor’, I shall discuss the distinction between ‘congruent’ and ‘metaphorical’ encodings of meaning, as well as the distinction between rankshift, transcategorization, and grammatical metaphor as semogenic resources (Section 1). In a second section, I shall then focus on ideational grammatical metaphors in English and German and revisit the notion of direct vs. indirect mapping of experiential and logical semantics onto lexicogrammar (Section 2). It will be argued that ‘directness of encoding’ within one language can be defined with the help of the concept of ‘transparency’ or ‘motivation’ of encoding between levels. Across and between languages, however, the notion of ‘directness’ either has to be seen from the perspective of one of the languages involved, or from the perspective of a generalized semantics and grammar. In Section 3, I shall then explore the question of the experiential vs. logical encoding of semantic categories across languages, and of how this relates to metaphoricity. I shall exemplify and discuss the fact that in cross-linguistic analyses, one cannot consider any one of a given set of experiential or logical encodings of some unit of meaning as ‘congruent’ or ‘direct’, as long as one does not have a cross-linguistic semantics to establish ‘motivation’ and ‘transparentness’ on. It will also be argued that some of the differences in texts across languages as to what counts as ‘congruent’ can be predicted from comparisons between the language-specific grammatical systems involved. Other differences, however, seem to rely heavily on registerial influences and cultural factors. In Section 4, then, I shall inquire into the question of whether and precisely in what sense we can speak of two different types of grammatical metaphor, dependent on whether they involve a relocation in rank or a mere re-arrangement of mappings of semantic and lexicogrammatical functions. These types of metaphor, it will be argued, have different implications for the metaphoricity of the clause as a whole, as well as for the ‘density’ of the packaging of meaning.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): English/German; grammatical metaphor; ideational metafunction
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