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Figurative Language, Mental Imagery, and Pragmatics

Carston, R; (2018) Figurative Language, Mental Imagery, and Pragmatics. Metaphor and Symbol , 33 (3) pp. 198-217. 10.1080/10926488.2018.1481257. Green open access

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Abstract

Many people report experiencing mental imagery (visual, auditory, and/or kinetic) when they comprehend verbal metaphors. The question whether imagery is merely an incidental side-effect of processes of metaphor understanding or plays a key role in comprehension remains unresolved, with diametrically opposed views expressed among psychologists, philosophers, and literary theorists. I survey a wide array of evidence (behavioral and neurocognitive) concerning the activation and use of imagery in language processing generally and metaphor processing in particular. I conclude that mental imagery is not an essential component in the comprehension of language, whether literal or metaphorical, but it is often automatically activated in the minds of hearers or readers as a by-product of their linguistic and pragmatic processes. Writers may exploit this fact and enhance the impact of imagery by producing extended and/or creative metaphors, so that, although not essential, imagistic effects can be as significant as propositional cognitive effects.

Type: Article
Title: Figurative Language, Mental Imagery, and Pragmatics
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/10926488.2018.1481257
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1080/10926488.2018.1481257
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Linguistics
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10044632
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