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  • Or as the poet Paul Muldoon put it...

  • But metaphors aren't just for poets.

  • They shape our beliefs, attitudes and actions

  • in ways we don't even realise.

  • At its simplest, a metaphor is X equals Y.

  • But more often metaphors are harder to unpick.

  • Take the end of The Great Gatsby...

  • On first glance, we're talking about rowers

  • fighting the pull of the current.

  • But the image is mixed up with time, the past, the power of nostalgia.

  • Many think...

  • Author James Geary says that...

  • But not everyone is a fan.

  • Philosopher Thomas Hobbes compared the use of metaphors to...

  • Which is of course a metaphor.

  • If we're trying to express anything abstract

  • metaphors are hard to avoid.

  • Take heartbreak. Imagine your friend is going through a break up,

  • they're probably...

  • Some metaphors have become so familiar, they almost feel literal.

  • Think about time again. There's the tired old metaphor...

  • What does it say about our society

  • that we equate time and money like this?

  • But dig a little deeper and you'll see...

  • The American linguist, George Lakoff, called these orientational metaphors.

  • Take the idea of up and down.

  • Lakoff also helped develop the idea of political framing.

  • The words we choose affect how we perceive and deal with social issues

  • and help decide what becomes publicly accepted common sense.

  • And metaphors play a huge role in that.

  • But a 2019 study suggests

  • military metaphors like this could actually undermine cancer treatment,

  • make people feel fatalistic about their chances

  • and even put implicit blame on those who don't survive.

  • Crime is another area full of metaphor.

  • But what effect might metaphors really have?

  • In 2011, a Stanford study gave one group

  • a pamphlet describing crime as a wild beast preying upon a city.

  • A second group were given a different pamphlet

  • describing crime as a virus plaguing the population.

  • When asked how to tackle the issue,

  • the first group were 20% more likely

  • to endorse stricter policing than the second.

  • So the metaphors we choose matter.

  • Lakoff and his co-author Mark Johnson put it like this...

  • Or to adapt a well-known example...

Or as the poet Paul Muldoon put it...

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B1 metaphor pamphlet crime author describing group

How metaphors shape the way you see the world | BBC Ideas

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    Summer posted on 2020/08/14
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