Metaphor and the space structuring model

Author(s): Coulson S, Matlock T


We propose an account of metaphor comprehension based on conceptual blending theory. We review data from on-line processing measures that support predictions of conceptual blending theory and report results of an off-line feature listing study that assessed how different sorts of contexts alter the information activated by a given word. Participants generated features for words used in the null context, sentences that promoted a literal reading of the target word, sentences that promoted a metaphorical reading, and sentences that required literal mapping. In literal mapping, the literal sense of the word was used in a way that prompts the reader to blend it with structure from a different domain. Results revealed some overlap in the features generated in each of the 4 contexts, but that some proportion of the features listed for words in literal, literal-mapping, and metaphoric-sentence contexts were unique and context specific.

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