What is it about?

Conceptual Metaphor Theory’s central idea, rooted in Lakoff and Johnson's Metaphors We Live By (1980), is that metaphor is a figure of thought rather than a figure of language. Unsurprisingly, metaphor scholars with expertise in other modes of communication than language (such as gestures and visuals) since then entered the scholarly debate by analyzing metaphor in various media. In the mean time, scholars like Panther, Barcelona and Ruiz de Mendoza began to theorize another trope, metonymy, from a cognitive perspective. However, the implications of this work for visual studies have hitherto hardly been examined, while it is moreover increasingly acknowledged that metaphor and metonymy often interact. In the field of visuals, Perez-Sobrino (2017) has done pioneering work. In this paper we propose to explore the interaction of metaphor and metonymy in the visual/multimodal realm of Iranian and Dutch print advertising,

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Why is it important?

The tenability of Perez-Sobrino's proposals needs to be tested by examining by more case studies. In this paper we basically find support for her proposals. What is new in our paper is that we investigate ads from Iran and the Netherlands -- two widely different cultures. We show how, just as with purely verbal specimens of metaphors and metonymies, these tropes' (combined) interpretation often heavily relies on cultural background knowledge.


By showing that it is necessary to chart how cultural background knowledge is presupposed by the creators of the ads, we make the point that pragmatics is an indispensable factor in the analysis of visual and multimodal metaphor & metonymy. Moreover, our paper contributes to the vast project of showing how a range of tropes we have known since antiquity can be analysed from a cognitivist perspective (see Pena-Cervel & Ruiz de Mendoza's Figuring out Figuration, 2022), helping to extend these author's model to visual and multimodal communication.

Dr Charles Forceville
Universiteit van Amsterdam

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This page is a summary of: Visual and multimodal interaction of metaphor and metonymy, September 2022, John Benjamins,
DOI: 10.1075/bct.124.05kas.
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