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The term 'metaphor', as the etymology of the word reveals, means transference of some quality from one object to another. From the times of ancient Greek and Roman rhetoric, the term has been known to denote

the transference of meaning from one word to another. It is still widely used to designate the process in which a word acquires a derivative meaning. Quintilian remarks: " It is due to the metaphor that each thing seems to have its name in language." Language as a whole has been figuratively defined as a dictionary of faded metaphors. Thus by transference of meaning the words grasp, get and see come to have the derivative meaning of understand. When these words are used with that meaning we can only register the derivative meaning existing in the semantic structures of the words. Though the derivative meaning is metaphorical in origin, there is no stylistic effect because the primary meaning is no longer felt.

A metaphor becomes a stylistic device when two different phenomena (things, events, ideas, actions) are simultaneously brought to mind by the imposition of some or all of the inherent properties of one object on the other which by nature is deprived of these properties. Such an imposition generally results when the creator of the metaphor finds in the two corresponding objects certain features which to his eye have something in common.

The idea that metaphor is based on similarity or affinity of two (corresponding) objects or notions is, as I understand it, erroneous. The two objects are identified and the fact that a common feature is pointed to and made prominent does not make them similar. The notion of similarity can be carried on ad absurdum, for example, animals and human beings move, breathe, eat, etc. but if one of these features, i.e. movement, breathing, is pointed to in animals and at the same time in human beings, the two objects will not necessarily cause the notion of affinity.

Identification should not be equated to resemblance. Thus in the. following metaphor:

" Dear Nature is the kindest Mother still" (Byron) the notion Mother arouses in the mind the actions of nursing, weaning, caring for, etc., whereas the notion Nature does not. There is no true similarity, but there is a kind of identification. Therefore it is better to define metaphor as the power of realizing two lexical meanings simultaneously.

Due to this power metaphor is one of the most potent means of creating images. An image is a sensory perception of an abstract notion already existing in the mind. Consequently, to create an image means to bring a phenomenon from the highly abstract to the essentially concrete. Thus the example given above where the two concepts Mother and Nature are brought together in the interplay of their meanings, brings up the image of Nature materialized into but not likened to the image of Mother.

The identification is most clearly observed when the metaphor is embodied either in an attributive word, as in pearly teeth, voiceless sounds, or in a predicative word-combination, as in the example with Nature and Mother.

But the identification of different movements will not be so easily perceived because there is no explanatory unit. Let us look at this sentence:

" In the slanting beams that streamed through the open window the dust danced and was golden." (O. Wilde)

The movement of dust particles seem to the eye of the writer to be regular and orderly like the movements in dancing. What happens practically is that our mind runs in two parallel lines: the abstract and the concrete, i.e. movement (of any kind) and dancing (a definite kind).

Sometimes the process of identification can hardly be decoded. Here is a metaphor embodied in an adverb:

" The leaves fell sorrowfully."

The movement of falling leaves is probably identified with the movement of a human being experiencing some kind of distress—people swing their bodies or heads to and fro when in this state of mind. One can hardly perceive any similarity in the two kinds of movements which are by the force of the writer's imagination identified.

Generally speaking, one feature out of the multitude of features of an object found in common with a feature of another object will not produce resemblance. This idea is worded best of all in Wordsworth's famous lines:

" To find affinities in objects in which no brotherhood exists to passive minds."

Here is a recognition of the unlimited power of the poet in finding common features in heterogeneous objects.

Metaphorization can also be described as an attempt to be precise, as J. Middleton Murry thinks. But this precision is of an emotional and aesthetic character and not logical. This is what Middleton Murry writes:

" Try to be precise and you are bound to be metaphorical; you simply cannot help establishing affinities between all the provinces of the animate and inanimate world." 1

Metaphors, like all stylistic devices, can be classified according to their degree of unexpectedness. Thus metaphors which are absolutely unexpected, i.e. are quite unpredictable, are called genuine metaphors.Those which are commonly used in speech and therefore are sometimes even fixed in dictionaries as expressive means of language are trite metaphors, or dead metaphors. Their predictability therefore is apparent. Genuine metaphors are regarded as belonging to language-in-action, i. e. speech metaphors; trite metaphors belong to the language-as-a-system, i.e. language proper, and are usually fixed in dictionaries as units of the language.

V. V, Vinogradov states:

"...a metaphor, if it is not a cliché, is an act of establishing an individual world outlook, it is an act of subjective isolation... Therefore a word metaphor is narrow, subjectively enclosed,...it imposes on the reader a subjective view of the object or phenomenon and its semantic ties." 2.



1 Op. cit., p. 83.

2 Виноградов В. В. Стиль Пушкина. М., 1945, с. 89.

The examples given above may serve as illustrations of genuine metaphors. Here are some examples of metaphors that are considered trite.

They are time-worm and well rubbed into the language: 'a ray of hope', 'floods of tears', a storm ofindignation', 'a flight of fancy', 'a gleam of mirth', 'a shadow of a smile' and the like.

The interaction of the logical dictionary meaning and the logical contextual meaning assumes different forms. Sometimes this interaction is perceived as a deliberate interplay of the two meanings. In this case each of the meanings preserves its relative independence. Sometimes, however, the metaphoric use of a word begins to affect the source meaning, i.e. the meaning from which the metaphor is derived, with the result that the target meaning, that is, the metaphor itself, takes the upper hand and may even oust the source meaning. In this case we speak of dead metaphors.

In such words as to melt (away), as in " these misgivings gradually melted away, " we can still recognize remnants of the original meaning and in spite of the fact that the meaning 'to vanish', 'to disappear' is already fixed in dictionaries as one of the derivative meanings, the primary meaning still makes itself felt.

Trite metaphors are sometimes injected with new vigour, i.e. their primary meaning is re-established alongside the new (derivative) meaning. This is done by supplying the central image created by the metaphor with additional words bearing some reference to the main word. For example: " Mr. Pickwick bottled up his vengeance and corked it down." The verb to bottle up is explained in dictionaries as follows: 'to keep in check' (" Penguin Dictionary"); 'to conceal, to restrain, repress' (" Cassell's New English Dictionary"). The metaphor in the word can hardly be felt. But it is revived by the direct meaning of the verb to cork down. This context refreshes the almost dead metaphor and gives a second life. Such metaphors are called sustained or prolonged. Here is another example of a sustained metaphor:

" Mr. Dombey's cup of satisfaction was so full at this moment, however, that he felt he could afford a drop or two of its contents, even to sprinkle on the dust in the by-path of his little daughter, " (Dickens, " Dombey and Son")

We may call the principal metaphor the central image of the sustained metaphor and the other words which bear reference to the central image—contributory images. Thus in the example given the word cup (of satisfaction) being a trite metaphor is revived by the following contributory images: full, drop, contents, sprinkle. It is interesting to note that the words conveying both the central image (the cup) and the contributory images are used in two senses simultaneously: direct and indirect. The second plane of utterance is maintained by the key word—s atisfaction. It is this word that helps us to decipher the idea behind the sustained metaphor.

Sometimes, however, the central image is not given, but the string of words all bearing upon some implied central point of reference are so associated with each other that the reader is bound to create the re-

quired image in his mind. Let us take the following sentence from Shakespeare:

" I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent." The words spur, to prick, the sides in their interrelation will inevitably create the image of a steed, with which the speaker's intent is identified.

The same is to be seen in the following lines from Shelley's " Cloud":

" In a cavern under is fettered the thunder,

It struggles and howls at fits."

Here the central image—that of a captive beast—is suggested by the contributory images— fettered, struggles and howls.

The metaphor is often defined as a compressed simile. But this definition lacks precision. Moreover, it is misleading, inasmuch as the metaphor aims at identifying the objects, while the simile aims at finding some point of resemblance by keeping the objects apart. That is why these two stylistic devices are viewed as belonging to two different groups of SDs. They are different in their linguistic nature.

True, the degree of identification of objects or phenomena in a metaphor varies according to its syntactic function in the sentence and to the part of speech in which it is embodied.

Indeed, in the sentence 'Expression is the dress of thought' we can hardly see any process of identification between the concepts expression and dress, whereas in the lines

" Yet Time, who changes all, had altered him

In soul and aspect as in age: years steal

Fire from the mind as vigour from the limb;

And Life's enchanted cup but sparkles near the brim.

(Byron, " Childe Harold")

The metaphors steal, fire, cup, brim embodied in verbs and nouns not used predicatively can be regarded as fully identified with the concepts they aim at producing.

Genuine metaphors are mostly to be found in poetry and emotive prose Trite metaphors are generally used as еxрressive means in newspaper articles, in oratorical style and even in scientific language. The use of trite metaphors should not be regarded as a drawback of style. They help the writer to enliven his work and even make the meaning more concrete.

There is constant interaction between genuine and trite metaphors. Genuine metaphors, if they are good and can stand the test of time, " may, through frequent repetition, become trite and consequently easily predictable. Trite metaphors, as has been shown, may regain their freshness through the process of prolongation of the metaphor.

Metaphors may be sustained not only on the basis of a trite metaphor. The initial metaphor may be genuine and may also be developed through a number of contributory images so that the whole of the utterance becomes one sustained metaphor. A skilfully written example of such a metaphor is to be found in Shakespeare's Sonnet No. 24.

Mine eye hath play'd the painter and hath stell'd

Thy beauty's form in table of my heart;

My body is the frame wherein 'tis held,

And perspective it is best painter's art.

For through the painter must you see his skill,

To find where your true image pictured lies;

Which in my bosom's shop is hanging still,

That hath his windows glazed with thine eyes.

Now see what good turns eyes for eyes have done:

Mine eyes have drawn thy shape, and thine for me

Are windows to my breast, where-through the sun

Delights to peep, to gaze therein on thee;

Yet eyes this cunning want to grace their art,

They draw but what they see, know not the heart.

The central image—'The eye—the painter' is developed through a number of contributory images: to draw, to stell, table, frame, hanging (picture) and the like.

In conclusion it would be of interest to show the results of the interaction between the dictionary and contextual meanings.

The constant use of a metaphor gradually leads to the breaking up of the primary meaning. The metaphoric use of the word begins to affect the dictionary meaning, adding to it fresh connotations or shades of meaning. But this influence, however strong it may be, will never reach the degree where the dictionary meaning entirely disappears. If it did, we should have no stylistic device. It is a law of stylistics that in a stylistic device the stability of the dictionary meaning is always retained, no matter how great the influence of the contextual meaning may be.


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