Language & politics
This paper describes an empirical experiment to access the differences in the emotional content delivered by similes compared to metaphors. A literature review will be presented to investigate the theories that studied the emotional intensity of both similes and metaphors. People inject a sense of poetry in their text by using metaphors and similes. They do so in an attempt to unlock their imaginative powers in response to an urgent need to express their feelings (Killick 1999).
Metaphors and similes provide us with unfamiliar ways of conceptualizing familiar things, and familiar ways of conceptualizing unfamiliar things (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980). Lakoff (1987) defined a metaphor as “the expression of an understanding of one concept in terms of another concept, where there is some similarity or correlation between the two. ” Metaphor is also defined in by Fairburn (1996) as “a figure of speech in which one object is likened to anther by speaking of it as if it were that other.
” Froggatt (1998) stated that metaphors are the most fundamental form of figurative language as they transfer the meaning form one situation to another. Metaphors within a given society reveal the fundamental values and assumptions of this culture. Metaphors consist of a topic, a vehicle, and a ground. The topic is the source or subject of the metaphor. The vehicle is the target domain. The ground is the relationship between the source and target. The topic and vehicle interact to create the ground (Verspoor 1993).
The first man to discuss metaphor was Aristotle. He stated that a metaphor is based on objective similarities between its objects (Verspoor 1993). On the other hand similes are defined as a figure of speech consisting of a comparison using like or as to make the connection between the two things that are being compared. RHL School (1999) defines Similes as “comparisons that show how two things that are not alike in most ways are similar in one important way. ” Authors usually use similes to make their writing more interesting.
Roberts & Kreuz (1994) empirical findings indicated that there is a big degree of overlap between metaphors and similes. These findings are not surprising since the only difference between both forms of speech is the use of like or as. Cognitive psychology models define emotions as ‘‘goal-relevant activations of thought material that exceed the translating capacity of attention within a short time horizon’ (Wilce 2004). Lubart & Getz (1997) view emotions as constructions generated by psychological, social, and biological factors.
Some emotions are due to a combination of social and biological factors while others are due to single factors. Some emotions such as fear are generated primarily by biological factors but may evolve to be generated as other physiological response such as escaping from a scary situation. Emotions of happiness, love and anger are generated by specific factors (Averill & Nunley, 1988). Emotions stems from several sources. In spoken language, tone of voice, volume, and speech rate are main factors affecting the emotional content of the speech.
In written language, emotions can be stated directly such as “I am angry” or can be inferred from grammatical construction, vocabulary diversity, and verbal immediacy. However the most powerful method of communicating emotion is through metaphors or similes (Verspoor 1993). People use sentences differently in different emotional states. A person in distress would use phrase his sentences as orders. Unpleasant emotions are expressed with a more complex grammar than pleasant emotions. Anxiety implies negations such as “I can’t,” “I don’t know. ”
Emotions that are generated by psychological factors vary from one person to another. These emotions are called affective experiences or feelings because they are attached to images or concepts in the memory of people which represent specific events, people or objects. These emotions can not be described by using social emotional categories such as love (Lubart & Getz 1997, p386). Zoltan Kovecses (2000), a cognitive linguist from Budapest, based his theory of emotion metaphors in the body. The body is a container and widespread as the universe.
Emotions are fluids in this metaphoric system. Heated fluids such as anger, create pressure creating metaphors like ‘‘blowing off steam. ’’ This ‘‘hydraulic model’’ of emotion is considered by many scholars as limited and outdated. However, Kovecses claims that the hydraulic model fits a newer cognitive perspective. He listed some metaphors that fit the “Event Model” which is a larger cognitive model (Wilce 2004). The cognitive theory states that that metaphor or similes express some kind of emotive state in order to conceptualize it.
Emotions are expressed metaphorically (Lakoff, 1987). Similes or metaphors contribute to some kind of emotional state to the reader. Emotion and similes or metaphors are influencing each other as they inform the major ideological structure and persuasion strategy, which may also be considered as interrelated (Ferrari 2007). Metaphors and similes not only widen one’s perception and imagination but they also convey a feeling. Metaphors can convey the full spectrum of human emotion in a highly condensed form Roosevelt (1979). Ortony and Fainsilber (1987, p.
1) states that people try to communicate their emotional state in two possible ways. First, by using literal language to describe the facts that caused the emotional state hoping that the listener would correctly infer the resultant emotional state. However, literal language does not describe the quality of the emotional state. Second, a metaphor or similes might be used to describe the quality of the emotional state. Thus people elect to use metaphors and similes to convey intense emotional states (Ortony & Fainsilber 1987, p. 2).
Metaphors and similes have been always used to express different emotional states. There exists a metaphoric mapping between particular emotional states and specific physical conditions of substance or objects. This is evident in expressions used to express anger in terms of pressure and heat as for example “When he told me that, I just about blew a gasket,” “your boss is just letting off steam,” (Emanatian 1995). Metaphor is a powerful means to communicate emotions due to two reasons. First, emotions are abstract concepts which make them more concrete.
An emotion can create an image expressing the reaction associated with this emotion. Secondly, metaphors and similes cause affective arousal. For example, an image of a man pumping someone for information is an image of physically squeezing the person. To investigate the ability of metaphors and similes in conveying emotional states, an experiment was conducted to measure the difference between the ability of both similes and metaphors to communicate emotions. Research Question: The study specific research question was as follows: Do similes communicate more emotional intensity than metaphors? Method:
On the basis of the theoretical perspective just presented and the research question, this section will review the methodology that was used to answer the research question. Methodology directs the collection and interpretation of data to reach conclusions. The quantitative method was used to collect and analyze the data. Research was conducted by an experiment in which a number of undergraduate students expressed their emotional intensity after listening to different scenarios with emotions of fear, anger, happiness, and sadness. One group listened to scenarios with metaphors and the other group listened to scenarios with similes.
The emotional states of participants were tested for statistical significance to conclude whether similes communicate more emotional intensity than metaphors or not. Participants: One hundred and fifty undergraduate students were randomly selected from the student body of the same university. 95% of all students have English as their mother tongue language, while 5% have English as their second language. The age of participants ranged from 17 to 25. Half of them were females while the other half was males. They were equally divided in random order into the control group and the experimental group.
Participants were not familiar with the hypothesis being tested and experimenters did not know that there were two groups. All participants reported that they have no hearing problems and have normal or corrected vision. Design The experiment is designed between subjects as the emotional intensity differs among participants. Two variables are defined during the experiment: Metaphor OrSimiles Variable, and the EmotionalIntensity variable. The MetaphorOrSimiles variable can take on one of two values: zero or one. Zero refers to the scenario listened to was ended by a metaphor.
One refers to the scenario listened to ended with a similes. The EmotionalIntensity variable is a parametric variable which can take on a value between one and five relevant to the emotional intensity felt by each participant. The control group listened to an audio tape which contained eight different scenarios. There were two scenarios for each of the following emotions (anger, fear, happiness, and sadness). Each of the scenarios ended with a literal statement that included a metaphoric expression. The experimental group listened to another audio tape which included the same eight scenarios.
Each of the scenarios ended with a literal statement that included similes. All scenarios were approximately the same length. Past tense was used to describe the emotions of fear and anger because they described a situation that happened in the past. Present tense was used to describe happiness and sadness because these moods are less transient moods (Fussel 2002, 138). The tape was recorded in a monotone voice of a 20-year old female to avoid transferring any emotional intensity to participants other than that communicated by the words themselves.
Participants were given a sheet of paper with space to describe their emotional intensity after they listened to each of the eight scenarios they listened to. Emotional intensity is recorded on a scale from one to five with one being the least intense and five being the most intense. Participants were asked to record their level of emotional intensity at a pause period of one minute after they listen to each scenario. Materials The materials needed to conduct the experiment include the classroom, answer sheets, pencils, audio tape player.
The classroom will be occupied by the participants while they listen to the audio tape and then record their emotional intensity after each scenario. The classroom needs to be quiet and equipped with chairs and desks to allow participants to comfortably record their answers on paper. The audio tape needs to be clear and loud as to ensure that participants understand each scenario correctly. Pencils must be sharpened as to enable participants to clearly mark their choices. Analysis The analysis focus on testing the hypothesis: whether similes are more capable of communicating emotions than metaphors.
An independent Sample T-test is used to compare the means of both groups: the control group and the experimental group. An alpha level of . 05 is used to determine the statistical significance of the data recorded during the experiment. Statistical significance is detected to verify the difference in the emotional intensity of participants that listened to scenarios with similes endings versus scenarios with metaphoric endings. Ethical The experiment and the collection of data are carried out in an ethical way which respects the rights and feelings of participants and of others who might come into contact with the experiment.
All participants signed a written consent to verify their permission to participate in the experiment. They were informed that their names and actual responses in the experiment would be confidential. They were also informed that findings of the research they participated in would be available to them if they elect to know. References Averill, J. R. & Nunley, E. P. (1992). Voyages of the heart: Living an emotionally creative life. New York. Free Press. Emanatian, M. (1995). Metaphor and the Expression of Emotion: The value of cross- cultural Perspectives. Metaphor and Symbolic Activity 10(3), 163-182.
Department of Linguistics, Macalester College. Ferrari, F. (2007). Metaphor at work in the analysis of political discourse: investigating a preventive war persuasive strategy. Discourse and Society, 18, 603-625. Froggatt, K. (1998). The place of metaphor and language in exploring nurses’ emotional work. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 1998, 28 (2), 332-338, London, England. Fussel, S. (2002). The Verbal Communication of Emotions: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. New Jersey. Killick, J. (1999). Eliciting Experiences of People with Damentia. Generations, Fall99, Vol. 23 Issue 3, p46, 4p;Sample Essay of AssignmentExpert.com