How to say new things : an essay on linguistic creativity

Title: How to say new things : an essay on linguistic creativity
Author: Hanks, Patrick
Source document: Brno studies in English. 2008, vol. 34, iss. 1, pp. [39]-50
  • ISSN
Type: Article
License: Not specified license

Notice: These citations are automatically created and might not follow citation rules properly.

A central function of natural language is describing perceptions, including novel perceptions. A common mechanism for this latter function is comparison. New, unfamiliar perceptions are compared with something more familiar. A related function is the creation of similes, figures of speech intended to grab a reader's or hearer's attention and activate his or her imagination. The most common word in English used for making comparisons and similes (though by no means the only one) is the preposition like: A is like B; A looks, sounds, tastes, smells, feels, or behaves like B. -- In this essay, I discuss the relationship between comparisons and similes and I explore some aspects of their role in the creative use of ordinary language. I start with an elaborate comparison by G. K. Chesterton, which I discuss, not because it is great literature or fine writing, but because it illustrates how people use comparisons and similes to describe the new in terms of the given, the unfamiliar in terms of the familiar.
[1] Black, Max (1962) 'Metaphor'. Chapter 3 of Models and Metaphors. Cambridge University Press.

[2] Black, Max (1979) 'More about metaphor'. In: Ortony, Andrew (ed.) Metaphor and Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[3] Davidson, Donald (1978) 'What Metaphors Mean'. Critical Inquiry 5, reprinted 1984 in Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation. Oxford University Press.

[4] Hanks, Patrick (2005) 'Similes and Sets: the English Preposition like'. In: R. Blatná and V. Petkevič (eds.) Jazyky a jazykověda ([Languages and Linguistics]: a festschrift in honour of Prof. Dr. Fr. Čermák). Prague: Charles University.

[5] Kövecses, Zoltán (2002) Metaphor: A Practical Introduction. Oxford University Press.

[6] Lakoff, George, and Mark Johnson (1980) Metaphors we Live By. Chicago University Press.