Reconstructing Metaphorical Meaning

Argumentation 28 (4):453-488 (2014)
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Abstract

Metaphorical meaning can be analyzed as triggered by an apparent communicative breach, an incongruity that leads to a default of the presumptive interpretation of a vehicle. This breach can be solved through contextual renegotiations of meaning guided by the communicative intention, or rather the presumed purpose of the metaphorical utterance. This paper addresses the problem of analyzing the complex process of reasoning underlying the reconstruction of metaphorical meaning. This process will be described as a type of abductive argument, aimed at explaining how the vehicle can best contribute to the purpose of the utterance. This type of reasoning involves the analysis of the possible predicates that can be and usually are attributed to the vehicle, and the selection of the one that can support the implicit conclusion constituting the communicative goal of the metaphorical utterance. Metaphorical meaning, in this perspective, becomes the outcome of a complex process of meaning reconstruction aimed at providing the best explanation of the function of the vehicle within a discourse move

Author Profiles

Fabrizio Macagno
Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de Lisboa
Benedetta Zavatta
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique

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