THE SHARPEST TOOL IN THE SHED:
A RESPONSE TO JOHNSON and LAKOFF’S METAPHORS WE LIVE BY (1980) Argument is war! Or at least this is what Johnson and Lakoff would have you to believe after reading their 1980 publication Metaphors We Live By. In fact, one should be prepared for battle any time you have a verbal argument with your employer, professor, or family member. This is because, according to Johnson and Lakoff, “The language of argument is not poetic, fanciful, or rhetorical; it is literal. We talk about arguments that way because we conceive of them that way--and we act according to the way we conceive of things”(Johnson and Lakoff, 3). While their publication was supported with very influential and suggestive rhetoric to support their thesis, it was in fact their thesis that I disagree with. Even though metaphors are pervasive in language, the human consciousness is designed to prevent these same pervasions from affecting us both mentally and physically. It is not normal, nor is it safe, for metaphors to affect us in our everyday thoughts or actions. In order to better understand this concept, let us first take a consensus of the many definitions of what a metaphor is, so that we can agree to what a metaphor is not. Richard Nordquist from about.com says that it is “A figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between two unlike things that actually have something in common.” Dictionary.com defines a metaphor as “A figure of speech which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance.” Finally, merriam-webster.com defines it as “ a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them.” At this point, it would be fair to say that a metaphor can be semantically defined as a figure of speech. It would also be fair to say...
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