Reasoning About Mixed Metaphors Within an Implemented Artificial Intelligence System

Mark G. Lee, John A. Barnden
2001 Metaphor and Symbol  
The phenomenon of mixed metaphor has traditionally been viewed as secondary to the understanding of straight metaphors. This article suggests that such an assumption is detrimental to long-term research. It is claimed that the same kinds of reasoning and knowledge structures involved in understanding straight metaphors are also required in understanding mixed metaphors and that mixing is a central phenomenon. Therefore, any theory of metaphor must be able to account for mixing. To this end, the
more » ... article provides an analysis of both parallel and serial mixed metaphors that has been implemented in an artificial intelligence system that is already capable of reasoning about straight metaphors. Mixed metaphors are often regarded as humorous or as cases of defective speech. Consider the following example, quoted by Fowler (1908) in his guide to writing style: "This, as you know, was a burning question; and its unseasonable introduction threw a chill on the spirits of all our party." The question is metaphorically "hot." However, its introduction makes the party's spirits "cold." Despite this contradiction, the sentence can be understood to mean that the question was somehow controversial and its inappropriate introduction saddened the emotions of the party members. Furthermore, it is plausible that most readers would not even consider the disparity of hot questions causing cold reactions because the two pieces of temperature information could be separately METAPHOR AND SYMBOL, 16(1&2),[29][30][31][32][33][34][35][36][37][38][39][40][41][42]
doi:10.1080/10926488.2001.9678884 fatcat:na6qvacngffbdnt4pvniet4vz4