Three Core Controversies of Original Conceptual Metaphor Theory Revisited

Shasha WANG


This article first introduces the main hypotheses of the original version of Conceptual Metaphor Theory (henceforth, abbreviated as CMT) presented in Metaphors We Live By. On this basis, it then evaluates its three controversial assumptions, referring to the research results of other influential CMT scholars. The three assumptions are: (1) metaphorical languages are possible because there exist metaphorical concepts which we can verify by their corresponding metaphorical expressions (language-concept-language circular reasoning); (2) conventional metaphors underlying literal expressions are the metaphors we live by and the object of CMT study while novel metaphors underlying figurative expressions are not the metaphors we live by since they lack systematic corresponding expressions (definition and scope of conceptual metaphors); (3) we understand the abstract target domain via the concrete source domain (unidirectional cross-domain mappings). In order to settle these tree controversies, future metaphor researchers should endeavor to find supporting evidences from multimodal manifestations, different languages and cultures and psychological experiments.



Conceptual metaphor theory; Metaphors We Live By; Circular reasoning; Definition; Unidirectional cross-domain mappings

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