Towards a procedure for metaphor identification

G.J. Steen

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This article aims to demonstrate the possibility of a stepwise procedure for metaphor identification. It is situated against the background of a more encompassing and complete five-step procedure for deriving conceptual metaphorical mappings from linguistic metaphors. The mainly cognitive linguistic assumptions of this overall approach are explicated first, with an emphasis on the purpose of identifying metaphor in language rather than in language behaviour. The compatibility between this cognitive-linguistic and a more generally cognitive psychological approach to metaphor is guaranteed by then introducing the notion of metaphorical propositions as the bridge between linguistic metaphors and metaphorical mappings. Moreover, reliability is hopefully increased by adopting the strategy of beginning with clear cases, which means that the initial focus is on all nominal, verbal, adjectival and adverbial concepts. As a result of this, a minimal procedure for finding metaphorically used words and concepts may be presented in the form of a list of seven instructions. A demonstration of this procedure is finally provided in the form of a detailed analysis of Robert Browning's 'Parting at Morning'. Copyright © 2002 SAGE Publications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-34
Number of pages18
JournalLanguage and Literature
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2002


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