Summary of a Theory for Metaphor by Aloysius Martinich

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  • Topic: Pragmatics, Paul Grice, Gricean maxims
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  • Published : January 12, 2011
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Summary of A Theory for Metaphor by A.P. Martinich

According to A. P. Martinich, an essential feature of a theory of metaphor is to place it within a general theory of language. This is for the reason that metaphor is derivative from some aspect of language use. To discuss his theory, he puts metaphor within H. P. Grice’s theory of conversation. Following Grice, he holds that metaphors are pragmatically based and not semantically based – its meaning depends upon the speaker’s satisfaction and its meaning accounts only at the time of utterance.

Using Grice, Martinich identified two divisions of the elements within the total content of what a speaker signifies. These are 1) what a speaker says or what the speaker makes-as-if-to-say and 2) what a speaker implies. In what a speaker say or saying-that, the meaning is explicit, that is, the speaker is literally saying or referring to something. On the other hand, the notion of making-as-if-to-say does not directly say what the speaker intends to say, but uses words and sentences as if to say something. Martinich used an illustration of a worker living in a poor country to easily explain this notion, wherein the worker uttered the sentence “This is a fine country” sarcastically. The worker does not say-that his is a fine country. What he did was to flout the maxim of quality; he tried to communicate by implying that his country is not really fine.

It is important to determine when a person utters a metaphorical sentence whether he is saying-that or making-as-if-to-say something. Furthermore, Martinich strictly pointed out that a metaphorical sentence does not intend to say something that is false, on the other hand, a person who utters sentences metaphorically aims to tell the truth – a metaphorical truth. To support this, he discussed the conversational maxims (from Grice) wherein he stressed the importance of the maxim of quality, in his theory for metaphors. The maxim of quality states, “do...
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