April 28, 2013
Figurative Language versus Literal Language
The allegation that figurative language derives from a basic literal language has been a matter of discussion for some time. This underlying assumption therefore separates language into two distinct categories; one that is primary, and the other secondary. For nearly 25 centuries, since the commentary of Aristotle, the assumption of the literal-figurative language contradiction has gone virtually unchallenged, although certain philosophers such as Vico have indeed insinuated that all language is metaphorical. As noted above, Aristotle’s significant statements about metaphor held influence, with certain precursory and insinuative statements that were conflicting, until the 20th century. The principle of the literal-figurative debate revolves around whether or not metaphor is a deviation from some pristine ordinary language or whether it is a basic form of linguistic expression. The essential question relates to whether or not metaphor is derivative or basic. When we engage in ordinary words in their ordinary dictionary senses, to describe events or situations that are publicly observable, we are speaking literally. According to Mac Cormac, who is a passionate literalist who believes that there is a distinction between these two forms of language, he conceded that as a literal language apologist, he (Mac Cormac, 1985: p78) must admit that his clarification of literal language presumed an elementary metaphor, namely, that the world consists of natural categories. In his 1936 discussion of metaphor, Richards was among the first to break with tradition and state that metaphor is essentially omnipresent in language. By making this bold statement, he revolutionized prevailing wisdom about metaphor. It is no longer deviation from standard or literal language; it is, in fact, the essence of language. Richards noted that the boundary between literal and figurative language was not fixed or constant. (Richards, I A, 1936) To begin with, we will define several terms regarding Figurative and Literal language to familiarize you in further detail, as to what these terms mean, with a logical example provided for each. The terms that will be discussed in this paper will be the following: |Idiom |Analogy | |Metaphor |Simile | |Cliché |Amphiboly | |Flame Word |Hyperbole | |Euphemism |Colloquialism |
Idiom- Is a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words (Angel fire, 2013); an example of this may be someone saying that it’s raining cats and dogs; obviously it would not be raining cats and dogs, but this expression of words, just emphasizes the true meaning to someone, to know that it is raining very heavily. Analogy- Understanding the meaning of an analogy is crucial to the success of the analogy in communication. Some analogies will be understood by most people that speak the same language. Within small social groups of people, there are often shared analogies that bind the group together. Other analogies are only understood by people living in a certain region or country. (E. K., 2010) Analogy examples with corresponding meanings are the best way to show the meaning of the word “analogy.” The following is a list of some common analogies and an explanation of their meaning. □ The relationship...