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Selected publications

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2019, Metaphor and Symbol

Ecological cognition and metaphor.

Thomas Wiben Jensen (University of Southern Denmark) & Linda Greve (The Science Museums, Aarhus University).

In this article, we argue for the need to incorporate the study of metaphor to further incorporate the study of metaphor wih the newest tendencies within cognitive science. We do so by presenting an ecological view of cognition as a skull-and-body-transcending activity that is deeply entangled with the environment. Grounded in empirical examples we present and examine four claims fleshing out this ecological perspective on cognition and metaphor: (a) metaphor is a product of an organism–environment-system, rather than merely a product of an inner mental process, (b) metaphoric meaning is relational. It emerges from projections of structure between a living organism and its perceived or imagined environment, (c) underlying metaphor is the notion of metaphoricity, which is a scalar value involving a doubleness in experience, and (d) metaphoricity relies on experiential affordances that can be directly perceived or felt in the environment. Overall, we propose that metaphor should be understood and thought about in terms of affordances rather than mental ability. Studying metaphor as affordances is to focus on metaphor as part of our active doings that equally involve cognitive, social, and linguistic dimensions. Within an ecological framework, there is no contradiction between studying the details of linguistic, multimodal, and embodied behavior in situational contexts while considering the cognitive dimensions of this behavior too since cognition is re-conceptualized as constituted by actions in an environment.

2019 Metaphor identification in multiple languages: MIPVU around the world (S. Nacey, A.G. Dorst, T. Krennmayr and W.G. Reijnierse (Eds.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins.)

Linguistic metaphor identification in Scandinavian.

Nacey, Susan (Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences), Linda Greve (The Science Museums, Aarhus University) & Marlene Johansson Falck (Umeå University)

Cognitive Semiotics, 12(1). 2019

A cognitive semiotic exploration of metaphors in Greek street art

Stampoulidis, Geogios (Lund University, Sweden), Bolognesi, Marianna (Oxford University, UK) & Zlatev, Jordan (Lund University, Sweden)

Cognitive linguistic and semiotic accounts of metaphor have addressed similar issues such as universality, conventionality, context-sensitivity, cross-cultural variation, creativity, and “multimodality.” However, cognitive linguistics and semiotics have been poor bedfellows and interactions between them have often resulted in cross-talk. This paper, which focuses on metaphors in Greek street art, aims to improve this situation by using concepts and methods from cognitive semiotics, notably the conceptual-empirical loop and methodological triangulation.

In line with the cognitive semiotics paradigm, we illustrate the significance of the terminological and conceptual distinction between semiotic systems (language, gesture, and depiction) and sensory modalities (sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste). Thus, we restrict the term multimodality to the synergy of two or more different sensory modalities and introduce the notion of polysemiotic communication in the sense of the intertwined use of two or more semiotic systems.


In our synthetic approach, we employ the Motivation and Sedimentation Model (MSM), which distinguishes between three interacting levels of meaning making: the embodied, the sedimented, and the situated. Consistent with this, we suggest a definition of metaphor, leading to the assertion that metaphor is a process of experiencing one thing in terms of another, giving rise to both tension and iconicity between the two “things” (meanings, experiences, concepts). By reviewing an empirical study on unisemiotic and polysemiotic metaphors in Greek street art, we show that the actual metaphorical interpretation is ultimately a matter of situated and socio-culturally-sensitive sign use and hence a dynamic and creative process in a real-life context.

September 2018 (PhD Dissertation)

”Det här är ju dött tåg liksom…”: en studie av metaforer för ROMANTISK KÄRLEK i talad svenska

Per Boström, Umeå University, Sweden

The purpose of this study is to investigate the metaphorization of ROMANTIC LOVE in spoken Swedish. The study is based on 4 semi-structured focus group conversations with participants in two age groups; 24–33 and 50–54. A Swedish short film and questions related to the film were used as stimuli for the conversations. The study is situated within Cognitive Linguistics and the framework of Conceptual Metaphor Theory and a Discourse Dynamics Approach to Metaphor. Consequently, metaphor is seen as a cognitive, linguistic, socio-cultural and discursive phenomenon, where metaphorization is a dynamic process that develops, adapts and flows within the conversations and between the participants. Metaphors are identified through a discourse dynamic version of MIP and MIPVU.


From the analyses, 6 systematic metaphors are proposed, where ROMANTIC LOVE is metaphorized as a PHYSICAL OBJECT (incl. as a POSSESSION and as a LIVING ORGANISM), as a CONTAINER (incl. CONSTRUCTION and BODY as a CONTAINER), as TRAVELLING together (with primary focus on TRAVELLING together rather than SOURCE or TARGET), as a UNITY (with focus on how a UNITY is ESTABLISHED, MAINTAINED and DISSOLVED, ideally by two COMPATIBLE partners), as a PHYSICAL and NATURAL FORCE and as a DISEASE (where LOVE can affect a person’s perception and sanity). In addition, ROMANTIC LOVE is, in a small number of expressions, metaphorized as a CRIME, as a PHYSICAL CONFLICT and as a GAME.

In total, 780 metaphorical expressions and 9 source domains are identified. Departing from the interplay between metaphorization and culture, a cultural model for ROMANTIC LOVE is reconstructed, where a multifaceted, embodied and experiential concept of ROMANTIC LOVE emerges.

September 2017 (PhD Dissertation)

Schizofrene symptom og splitta sinn. Kritiske metonymi- og metaforanalysar av fagtermar knytte til diagnosen schizofreni i skandinaviske lærebøker i psykiatri.

​Helga Mannsåker, The University of Bergen, Norway.

This thesis investigates the use of the psychiatric terms schizofreni (‘schizophrenia’) and schizofren (‘schizophrenic’) in Scandinavian psychiatric expert language by means of Cognitive Linguistic theories of metaphor and metonymy. I use metaphor and metonymy analyses as a basis for critical discussions of the ways in which the terms are used in psychiatric expert language. My material consists of Scandinavian (i.e. Norwegian, Swedish and Danish) textbooks on psychiatry from three time periods: c. 1900, when the term for the disorder was dementia praecox, c. 1950, when schizofreni had fully replaced dementia praecox, and the period after 2000, i.e. the text books that are currently used in the education of physicians. My results indicate that metonymy plays a vital role in psychiatric expert language, and that some forms of metonymic use of psychiatric expert terms may lead to unfortunate conceptualizations and hence to stigmatization of patients. I have also found indications that the term schizofreni (from Greek skhizein ‘to split’ + phrēn ‘mind’) may still be alive as a metaphor in the psychiatric language community, inasmuch as the disorder is still referred to and therefore potentially also conceptualized in terms of the source domain SPLITTING. This study provides a deeper understanding of the role of metonymy in expert language and of the mechanisms contributing to the stigmatizing potential of some linguistic constructions.

Metaphor and Symbol (2018 - volume 33, Issue 2)

From ecological cognition to language: When and why do speakers use words metaphorically?

Marlene Johansson Falck, Umeå University, Sweden

The idea that metaphorical meaning is guided by speakers’ experiences of the world is central to Conceptual Metaphor Theory. Yet little is known about the ways in which speakers’ understandings of objects in the world around them influence how they use words in metaphorical and non-metaphorical ways. This article is a corpus linguistic analysis of the collocational patterns of metaphorical and non-metaphorical bridgeinstances from the Corpus of American English Corpus of Contemporary American English. The study shows that metaphorical and non-metaphorical uses of words are systematically linked to different types of real world experiences. It is argued that lexical metaphors are, in fact, lexico-encyclopedic conceptual metaphors (i.e., conceptual mappings that involve speakers’ understandings of specific target concepts by means of the specific source concepts that they refer to in metaphorical language), and that they are constrained by cognitive salience.