Detecting metaphor – what case forms may reveal about a conceptualization




metaphor identification, grammatical metaphor, declension


The figurativeness of language expressions is not always obvious. While in rhetoric such unobtrusiveness may be a welcome quality, in linguistic studies, which have proved the important epistemological function of metaphor, it is vital that a reliable method for detecting metaphoricity in language be developed. The MIP proposed by the Pragglejaz group of researchers into metaphor, whose main concern is determining whether the sense represented by a given unit in a specific context contrasts or not with its basic, primary, typically “physical” meaning, does not seem to be always reliable since the contrast between a current and a basic meaning is not always evident and may be disputable in the case of words whose meaning is co-determined by context, as, e.g., the sense of the noun collectors in the phrase collectors of stories referring to the Grimm brothers. This method is also likely allow for the so-called grammatical metaphors, identified by Panther and Thornburg (2009) going unnoticed, since in their case the words involved represent their basic, physical senses. An example of the latter is the peculiar inflection of brand names marked for the masculine gender in Polish. Specifically, this is the issue of obligatory applying the declensional pattern characteristic of masculine animate nouns to masculine brand names referring to commercial products, such as cars, watches, computers, etc. The point is that the accusative case form of such words functioning as objects of verbs like buy, see, have is equal to the genitive, as is normal of animate nouns, rather than to the nominative, which is typical of animate ones – a group, to which brand names, after all, belong. This peculiar behaviour of a specific category of nouns may be interpreted as a symptom of construing their referents in a way in terms of living creatures, which seems to be confirmed by the fact that many owners develop emotional attitudes to objects of personal use. It is the metaphorical construal that seems to determine the grammatical form of certain nouns referring to them.


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How to Cite

Sokołowska, O. (2019). Detecting metaphor – what case forms may reveal about a conceptualization. Beyond Philology An International Journal of Linguistics, Literary Studies and English Language Teaching, (16/1), 77–94.