Why metaphor and other tropes? Linguistic approaches to analysing policies and the political

A.J. Cienki, D. Yanow

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The articles in this special issue on linguistic approaches to analysing policies and the political share the goal of taking language seriously, achieved through detailed attention to linguistic usage in its respective contexts. They reflect a stance common to both cognitive linguistic and interpretive/ constructivist approaches, namely a view of language as integrally constituting the world it presents, reflecting, at least in part, its users' experiences of that world. One key form of language use discussed is that of metaphor. Rather than being seen as merely a poetic device, metaphor is viewed in several of the articles as playing a pivotal role in the framing of policy or political issues, which it does by casting one idea in terms of the imagery of another. For example, talking about a political entity, such as a country, in terms of it being a kind of container can invite certain inferences about how political states function-in this case, reasoning about inclusion of members within the state 'container' vs. exclusion from it. The research shows that metaphors often have important ties with categorisation, the categories used being determined in part by the words we use to name concepts. In addition to metaphor, metonymy also plays a significant role. The articles show the intimate relationship between political language and political acts. © 2013 Macmillan Publishers Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-176
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of International Relations and Development
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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