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primary metaphor


primary metaphor

Metaphor, Metonymy, and Experientialist Philosophy by Verena Haser (Walter de Gruyter, 2005)


A basic, intuitively understood metaphor (or figurative comparison)--such as KNOWING IS SEEING or TIME IS MOTION--that may be combined with other primary metaphors to produce complex metaphors.

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Concept introduced by Joseph Grady in "Foundations of Meaning: Primary Metaphors and Primary Scenes" (Ph.D. dissertation at the Univ. of California, Berkeley, 1997) and adopted by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson in Philosophy In The Flesh (1999)


  • "In an influential study, Joseph Grady (1997a) [proposes] that there are two kinds of metaphor: primary metaphor and compound metaphor. While primary metaphors are foundational, compound metaphors are constructed from the unification of primary metaphors. Grady's central claim . . . is that primary metaphors conventionally associate concepts that are equally 'basic,' in the sense that they are both directly experienced and perceived. . . . Grady argues that the distinction between target and source relates to degree of subjectivity rather than how clearly delineated or how abstract a concept is."
    (Vyvyan Evans and Melanie Green, Cognitive Linguistics: An Introduction. Routledge, 2006)

  • "[T]he term primary in primary metaphor may not always be justified, because these metaphors may themselves be based on other metaphors. . . .

    "Reference to primary metaphors is problematic because there is no evidence for metaphorical concepts existing apart from the 'corresponding' cognitive associations and the expressions these associations give rise to. Furthermore, at least in most cases we cannot clearly assign metaphorical expressions to particular primary metaphors--the potential primary metaphors that could account for particular metaphorical expressions overlap."
    (Verena Haser, Metaphor, Metonymy, and Experientialist Philosophy. Walter de Gruyter, 2005)

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