Volume 28, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0929-0907
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9943
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Cognitive-pragmatic approaches to how metaphors are understood view the activation of perceptual or motor effects as inferred (Steinhart 2001Bergen 2005Wilson and Carston 2006Carston 2010Gibbs and de Macedo 2010Wilson and Carston 2019). Crucially, inferences elicit conceptual representations, e.g. in the form of implicatures, and/or mental simulations, e.g. in the form of imagery, memory, an impression and other private elements. Emotional effects, being non-conceptual, must be left out of this picture. But evidence in neurolinguistics and psycholinguistics has shown that metaphors activate brain regions linked to emotions (for a review, see Ifantidou 2019Citron 2020), and that in L2, in the absence of fully-propositional meaning (due to unknown words), metaphors yield meaningful interpretations by evoking imagery, impressions, emotions (Ifantidou 20192021a2021bIfantidou and Hatzidaki 2019). Drawing on relevance-theoretic views, we would like to argue that metaphors are processed in not entirely propositional terms. Subjective experience heuristics (originally proposed as “availability heuristic” by Tversky and Kahneman 1974Schwarzand and Wänke 2002; “affect heuristic” by Zajonc 1980) allows making rapid responses by absorbing emotions, imagery, impressions, into the interpretation process, an ability which outweighs (the need for) standard inferential reasoning processes. Such a position is likely to apply to non-metaphorical language, too and thus pervade linguistic processing in general.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): emotion; imagery; inference; non-propositional meaning; perception; relevance theory
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