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  • Conceptual Metaphors in Poetry

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Conceptual metaphors in poetry interpretation: A psycholinguistic approach

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/06/2020
<mark>Journal</mark>Language and Cognition
Issue number2
Number of pages33
Pages (from-to)310-342
Publication statusPublished
Early online date28/02/20
Original languageEnglish


Psycholinguistic research has shown that conceptual metaphors influence how people produce and understand language (e.g., Gibbs, 1994, 2017a; Kövecses, 2015; Jacobs & Kinder, 2017). So far, investigations have mostly paid attention to non-poetic metaphor comprehension. This focus stems from the original discovery of Conceptual Metaphor Theory that much of everyday, non-poetic language is metaphorical. The present study aims to expand this focus and explores whether people access conceptual metaphors during poetry interpretation. To answer this question, we conducted a psycholinguistic experiment in which 38 participants, all native speakers of English, completed two tasks. In each task, participants read excerpts of poetry containing conceptual metaphors before selecting or rating items that indicated their implicit and explicit awareness of the conceptual metaphors. The results of both tasks show that participants retrieve conceptual metaphors when reading poetry. This provides empirical evidence in favor of the idea that crucial aspects of poetic thought and language arise from conceptual metaphor.