METAPHOR AND LATENT IDEOLOGY
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METAPHOR AND LATENT IDEOLOGY Andrew Goatly Lingnan University, Hong Kong
Degrees of latency in linguistic expression of ideology 1) 2)
5) 6) 7)
Overt ideological statements e.g. Sir Alfred Lyall: "Accuracy is abhorrent to the Oriental mind.” Original (?) metaphors: e.g. ‘street cleaning’, ‘trash removal’, ‘fly swatting’, ‘pest removal’ and ‘urban hygiene’ used to support police and death squad activities against street children in Rio. (New Internationalist 10/97: 21) Presuppositions: e.g. ‘The need for economic competitiveness will prevent public sector wage increases.’ Utterances demanding ideologically loaded assumptions to be understood: e.g. ‘A Scotsman takes some money out of the bank for a holiday. When it’s had its holiday he puts it back again.’ Conventional metaphors: e.g. ‘I don’t buy that theory’. Literal vocabulary: e.g. brother Conventional grammar: ‘Traditionally fishermen caught 100,000 tons of fish a year in the North Sea’ 1-4) are at the level of discourse, and 5)-7) seem to part of the language code or system, but instantiated in discourse
Ideology and conventional metaphor •
This talk is largely about 5) conventional metaphors (some of which may be revitalised as 2) “original” metaphors). “ I don’t buy that. It would be too expensive to give up my long-held views.”
If ideology is the set of beliefs by which a society operates and within which social relations of power are enacted, then it is inescapable (not some misleading superstructure hiding a material reality), likely to be reflected in the language, including the metaphors which have been conventionalised and elaborated in the lexicon according to metaphorical schemas, or metaphor themes. Metaphor themes (aka conceptual metaphors, root analogies) are cognitively important metaphors whose importance is established by their being instantiated in many lexical items used frequently in discourse. (see Lakoff and Johnson Metaphors We Live By, Metalude etc.)
1. 2. •
2 illustrations of the importance of metaphors in ideology 1.
DISEASE IS WAR/INVASION as reinforcing or determining the social practice of medicine—problems arising from this metaphor and the alternatives DISEASE IS IMBALANCE
ACTIVITY IS FIGHTING (ARGUING/CRITICISING IS FIGHTING, SEX IS VIOLENCE etc.) and QUALITY IS QUANTITY or QUALITY IS MONEY/WEALTH as metaphorical underpinnings of capitalism.
Medical practice and DISEASE IS INVASION attack ‘disease’ invaders ‘viruses or bacteria’, invade ‘enter the body’ strike down ‘cause illness or death to’ succumb ‘become ill’. defend, fight, combat ‘struggle to survive’ a disease resistance ‘immune response’. conquer or vanquish ‘eliminate’ a disease
• The military metaphor first came into wide use in medicine in the 1880s, when bacteria were identified as causing disease by entering the body (Sontag 1991: 67) and replaced a metaphor of disease as imbalance that can be traced back to Hippocrates. • Since then military metaphors have more and more come to infuse all aspects of the description of the medical situation. Disease is seen as the invasion of alien organisms, to which the body responds by its own military operations, such as the mobilising of immunological ‘defences’, and medicine is ‘aggressive’ as in most chemotherapies (p. 95). • The extent to which this has become the commonsense way of constructing disease is evident in this typical extract from the New Scientist:
Gene therapy gets the body to attack cancer An army of immune cells that can punch through the defences of tumours has been created by genetic engineering … Most researchers trying to use the immune system to beat cancer focus on boosting the immune response. That can have a dramatic effect. But even if the body produces a vast army of immune cells against a cancer, it can still be foiled. That’s because many cancers release a slew of protective proteins including a vital one called transforming growth factor beta. TGF- binds to immune cells and tells them to stop attacking their quarry. It forms an invisible fortress around tumours. “Cancer’s best weapon is TGF-,” says Lee. To breach this fortress Lee’s team added a mutated gene for a TGF- receptor to cells from mouse bone marrow … (Jones 2002: 10) [my bolding]
Problems with DISEASE IS INVASION (1) Antibiotic-resistant bacteria (2) Auto-immune diseases.
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria • The traditional approach to bacteria diseases is to attempt to kill the bacteria with antibiotics but resistant strains develop. For example staphylococcus aureus resistant to penicillin and methicillin, and since 2002 vancomycin. (MRSA)
• A new approach: prevent bacteria ‘talking’ with each other. Bacteria need to know they have a quorum, sufficient numbers to be successful in multiplying uncontrollably. Research is developing methods of interfering with the bacteria’s signalling mechanisms, so that they will not know they are present in sufficient numbers and will remain benign. (Watts, Geoff. Making peace with deadly bacteria. New Scientist 4/1/2003, p.30.)
Auto-immune diseases • Auto-immune disease occurs when the lymphocytes can’t recognise what is self and what is non-self inflammation of the body’s own cells, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disease, anaemias, and inflammatory bowel disease. Scientists from the university of Iowa suggest that bowel inflammations may be linked to the absence of certain parasites in the gut. • Humans and other animals have been living with helminths, or worms, since the dawn of time, and our intestinal tracts have adapted to their presence. They normally dampen some aspects of our mucosal immune response. Without them the human body may over-produce powerful substances that can cause excessive inflammation of the gut • These worms have been regarded as foreign invaders and therefore eradicated. Perhaps this is symbiosis: reintroducing helminthic worms into mice can protect them from inflammatory bowel disease. (Weinstock, Elliott, Summers, and Qadir)
Summary • DISEASE IS WAR/INVASION has been a very important metaphor (model) in medicine over the last century or so, and is ideological in the sense that it drives social practice in a particular culture. Though the model has been found to have limitations in certain areas of medical practice, where the more traditional metaphor of HEALTH IS BALANCE might prove more useful. • It is probably part of a larger pattern which sees any activity in terms of struggle or fighting.
Capitalism and ACTIVITY IS FIGHTING ETC. • Metaphors which are more implicated in social power and the rise and dominance of capitalism. The first of these is ACTIVITY IS FIGHTING (with various subthemes such as SEX IS VIOLENCE, ARGUING/CRITICISING IS FIGHTING etc.) • This metaphor theme is instantiated by an enormous vocabulary and indicates the extent to which activity is seen in terms of competition or struggle (rather than contented co-operation). This obviously relates to the notion of economic competitiveness and the survival of the economically fittest.
Lexis for ACTIVITY IS FIGHTING •
Many verbs for types of fighting can be applied to other activities: fight ‘work hard to achieve’, battle ‘attempt to achieve something in a difficult situation’ wrestle, struggle, grapple ‘try hard to do something difficult’ (I’ve been wrestling / struggling with this maths problem for hours), combat ‘attempt to stop something’ (the government needs to take stronger measures to combat crime). As for nouns we have: fray ‘energetic or exciting activity’, blitz / assault ‘great effort to do something’ (schools are having a blitz on raising AIDS awareness), so blow by blow account, is ‘a detailed description of an action or event’ half the battle ‘the most difficult part of the task completed’ (once you ask the right survey questions that’s more than half the battle). Battles can be a series that constitute a campaign ‘planned group of political or business activities’ or crusade ‘long, determined attempt to achieve what one believes in’ (they are involved in a crusade for racial equality),
Lexis for ACTIVITY IS FIGHTING ctd. •
To fight these battles you may need a weapon ‘means of achieving something or opposing someone’, firepower ‘ability to act energetically and successfully’ or an arsenal ‘methods or resources available to achieve something’ (our advertisers use a full arsenal of marketing techniques), and hopefully in your campaign you will have a spearhead ‘leaders of an activity or campaign’ (the Monday Club are the spearhead for the campaign against immigration).
A front will be ‘a particular area of activity’ (she’s very creative on the design front), and the vanguard or the front-line are ‘those taking initiatives and having the most influence on an activity’ (the minister is in the front line of the drugs awareness campaign).
Lexis for ACTIVITY IS FIGHTING ctd. •
Activities can also be seen as (the beginning of) an attack: come to grips with / square up to ‘confront and deal with effectively and with determination’ (I’ve finally come to grips with quadratic equations), take up the cudgels for ‘support someone strongly’ (the unions took up the cudgels for the retrenched staff), and in a metaphor from the trenches of the 1st World War, go over the top ‘behave in an exaggerated excessive and unwise way’ (he went over the top in investing all his savings in Portuguese bonds).
Activity may be viewed as striking: tilt at ‘attempt to succeed at or obtain something’, have / make a stab at ‘make an attempt at’ (which if you do ‘completely and without limitation’ you do to the hilt), knockout blow ‘action that completely destroys an opponent’, knock out ‘very impressive activity’ (the show was a knockout – all the seats were sold for 10 nights), strike a blow for ‘do something to support a cause or principle’ (he struck a blow for the cause of handicapped children). ‘ (body) blow ‘a setback, problem or disappointment’, (the court ruling comes as a blow to environmentalists), or one in the eye for (our increase in market share was one in the eye for our competitors).
Successful activity is killing: execute ‘perform or do a planned action’, close in for the kill ‘take advantage of a changed situation to achieve your aims’ (seeing his chance of a profit John moved in for the kill.); to have other successes is: take by storm ‘be suddenly and unexpectedly successful and get an enthusiastic response’ (the Beatles took the country by storm in 1964).
Lexis for ACTIVITY IS FIGHTING ctd. •
Perseverance is continuation of fighting or resistance: bash on ‘continue doing something difficult or boring’ (I bashed on with my marking past midnight), go the distance literally ‘box until the end of the last round’, metaphorically ‘manage to continue till the end of something’ (he started an Open University course but was unable to go the distance), roll with the punches ‘deal with a series of difficult situations’, hold the fort ‘look after or supervise an activity while someone else is absent’. Giving up, failure or ceasing an activity is losing a battle: you may fight a losing battle ‘try to do an impossible task’, be on the ropes ‘doing badly and likely to fail’ or in a no win situation ‘leading to an unsuccessful result whatever happens’. In which case you might as well give in / admit defeat ‘decide not to continue something before you have successfully completed it’, or using the boxing metaphors throw in the towel / sponge. This is an admission that an activity defeats you – ‘proves impossible to solve or carry out’ (this maths problem defeats me).
Lexis for ACTIVITY IS FIGHTING ctd. •
If activity is a battle, then people or participants are an army / host / regiment ‘large group of people’ (when she opened the door there was an army / a host / a regiment of journalists waiting for her), or the smaller troop / cohort or task force ‘people working together on a particular job’ (the health and safety task force have just issued their first report) or a contingent ‘representatives of an organisation or country’ (the Japanese contingent certainly made their presence known at the World Cup). If part of an organisation they may be the top brass ‘most important members of an organisation’ (some of the top brass at Enron were fired immediately), or the rank and file / the ranks, ‘less important ordinary members of an organisation’ or a foot soldier (she was never promoted much, but over the years she remained one of our most loyal foot soldiers).
To prepare these people for an activity is to prepare them for war: mobilize ‘organise or prepare a group for a purpose’, muster ‘gather people together for an activity’ (can we muster enough people for a game of football?), enlist ‘ask someone for help or support’ (the prosperous company enlisted several new marketing staff) or make them a recruit.
Relation of ACTIVITY IS FIGHTING to capitalism To see most of human activity in terms of fighting suggests the competitiveness of human behaviour (rather than its cooperativeness)—possibly based on a neoDarwinian ideology of the survival of the economically fittest and the need to eliminate the weak. It reinforces the idea that markets work best if they are as competitive as possible.
QUALITY IS QUANTITY and QUALITY IS MONEY/WEALTH and capitalism Another strand in capitalism depends upon the metaphor theme QUALITY IS QUANTITY, by which qualitative differences are either ignored or equated with quantitative ones. This is an essential tool of capitalist trade, for by extending the metaphor to QUALITY IS MONEY/WEALTH the market can operate freely: qualitatively different goods can all be given a money value and therefore exchanged in the market. This now extends itself inexorably into areas which were once considered beyond its scope--water, sequences of DNA, transplant organs, etc. Even human relationships, and the value of humans as individuals are now often expressed or measured in money terms e.g 'Bill gates is worth X billion dollars'.
Lexis for QUALITY IS QUANTITY •
The transformation of quality into quantity appears in a number of English metaphors that equate quality with size or length. the long and the short of it ‘the general characteristics of a situation’ (the long and the short of it is we can’t afford to send both our children to university) and nothing short of ‘a situation with a surprising quality’ (nothing short of miraculous), depth ‘quality of richness or strength of a colour’ (the black contrasting with the white gives the painting more depth), calibre, literally ‘the width of a gun’s barrel’ means metaphorically ‘quality or standard of ability’, dimension means ‘aspect or quality’(the harpsichord adds a whole new dimension to the music). measure, or gauge ‘find out or make a judgement about the quality of something’ (you can’t necessarily measure / gauge career success by the amount of money you accumulate), size .. up ‘find out or make a judgement about the quality of a situation’ (he sized up the situation and decided he had better quit his job). If you you take / have the measure of or have .. taped ‘find out or know someone’s character’ measure up ‘prove to have satisfactory qualities’ try on for size ‘find out the quality of a philosophy, theory or suggestion’ benchmark ‘standard or specification of quality’ (new environmental laws in the EU set a benchmark for other countries to aspire to).
These metaphors are a symptom of our modern mathematical culture, which is obsessed with the need for measurement. In fact, of course, the whole basis of logical quantification depends on the notion of linear scales. If these are in fact metaphors, then mathematics and logic do not represent some transcendental reality but are themselves metaphorically determined (Chilton 1996: 56).
QUALITY IS QUANTITY QUALITY IS MONEY/WEALTH •
Modern science and economic theory attempt to reduce qualitative differences to quantitative ones, through the equation QUALITY IS QUANTITY.
Perhaps the most obvious way in which this is done in modern bourgeois political economy is to use money as a common measure of the “heterogeneities of human desires, of use values, and of elements and processes ‘in nature’”. It thus becomes a means of maximizing utility through market mechanisms that determine the rational allocation of resources. As Marx noted, money reduces the use values of the multidimensional ecosystem, human desires and needs, and subjective meanings to a common measurable objective standard which everyone can understand (Harvey 1996: 150-1).
In the market place, for practical reasons, the innumerable qualitative distinctions which are of vital importance for man and society are suppressed; they are not allowed to surface. Thus the reign of quantity celebrates its greatest triumphs in “The Market”. Everything is equated with everything else. To equate things means to give them a price and make them exchangeable. (Schumacher 1973 / 1999: 30).
So QUALITY IS QUANTITY becomes the more specific QUALITY IS MONEY / WEALTH
QUALITY IS MONEY/WEALTH •
Positive qualities are frequently metaphorised in terms of wealth and money. wealth ‘large amount of desirable things’ (he uses a wealth of effective teaching techniques), asset ‘useful or valuable quality’ or capital, sterling ‘admirable in quality’ (he made sterling efforts to walk again after his car accident), bonus ‘pleasant additional quality’, dividend ‘advantage’, and credit ‘honour, pride’. The degree of positive qualities, benefits or importance then becomes its value / worth (he is of great value to the school), so it is valued / valuable (swimming is a valuable skill); overvalue / undervalue, ‘overestimate / underestimate importance’ face value, an ‘estimate on the basis of immediate appearances’ devalue ‘make less important’ priceless or precious ‘having extremely important or positive qualities’
QUALITY IS MONEY/WEALTH ctd. If things are found to be beneficial and advantageous it is as though they go up in value: appreciate / appreciation ‘recognise / recognition that something is important or positive’ (I didn’t appreciate the importance of contraception until it was too late), profitable ‘beneficial, useful’ (arguments at this point are not likely to be profitable), profit from, make capital out of ‘get an advantage from’ (Thatcher made political capital out of the Falklands War).
QUALITY IS MONEY/WEALTH ctd. Hence experiences are depicted in terms of money transactions, for example payments. If you are on the receiving end of the payment it is to your advantage: pay ‘give a benefit or advantage’ (it never pays to take risks with safety), payment ‘reward or outcome which one deserves’, payoff, payback ‘useful result or advantage received for something’ (his success was a payoff for hard training), earn ‘get a benefit or positive result’ (after five hard weeks I’ve earned a break), repay ‘be worthwhile (of interest / effort / attention)’ (reading stories to your young child will repay the effort in their later education) and compensate ‘make up for, be an advantage that cancels out a disadvantage’. Payment then is often constructed as a return for something you have already done or paid and if you bank on it, you expect a good result from this time and effort. Even without an expectation of proportionate advantage you may be disappointed not to get any change out of it ‘get no return result or satisfaction from’ (I got no change out of the three hours I spent with him). On the other hand you should not miss opportunities to have a rewarding experience, and there are just some things that you can not afford to ‘not allow oneself to’ miss.
QUALITY IS MONEY/WEALTH ctd. Alternatively, experience can be a negative result of past behaviour, in which case you are the one paying in the present or future. The price, cost is the ‘effort or negative effect of doing or obtaining something’ (the price for the war in Iraq should have been Bush’s rejection at the next election), at any price means ‘whatever the unpleasant consequences may be’ (he was determined to go to war at any price), pay (the price) for ‘experience the bad results of what you do’, results which you count the cost of, ‘realise the negative effects of’, a cost or effect which may ‘be very negative’ will cost you dearly (Clinton’s sexual misbehaviour cost him and his party dearly). Sometimes you pay for your achievements at the expense of ‘with negative effects on’ something else, usually some quality or area of your life you have sacrificed or neglected (his success as a novelist was at the expense of his family life).
QUALITY IS MONEY/WEALTH ctd. This quality as money / wealth analogy extends its sources into other transactions such as investing, trade and tax / accounting: lend means ‘add a desirable quality to’ (his membership lends a touch of class to the club), or more particularly invest with ‘give power, importance or value to’ (in his stories everyday reality is invested with a sense of fascination and joy). You can trade on ‘exploit to your own advantage’ a characteristic or quality you possess (Blatter traded on his popularity with developing nations to get re-elected). If something is more than you bargained for it turns out to be ‘more onerous than you at first thought’, and may tax ‘strain or demand effort from’ you. You may be called to account for ‘defend or explain your actions’.
Consequences of QUALITY IS MONEY/WEALTH • If we take these metaphors seriously, we increasingly establish the quality or value of anything by conceptualising it in money terms. One symptom is the tendency to equate standard of living with quality of life, suggesting that your quality of life depends on how much you can buy or consume – a doubtful proposition with very harmful effects on the environment as resources are wasted on unnecessary products, and the manufacturing process itself uses up energy and causes pollution. • Heidegger warns that “the humanness of man and the thingness of things dissolve into the calculated market value of a market which … trades in the nature of Being and thus subjects all beings to the trade of a calculation that dominates most tenaciously in those areas where there is no need of numbers” (Heidegger 1971: 114-5).
RELATIONSHIP/AFFECTION IS MONEY/WEALTH • •
As an instance of this, Lakoff has explored how even morality seems to be seen as a transaction (Lakoff 1996: ch. 4). For example the lexis in RELATIONSHIP / AFFECTION IS MONEY / WEALTH can be seen in terms of Reciprocation: indebted to, ‘grateful for help given’, debt, ‘appreciation, gratitude’ (I can never repay the debt I owe him), with the result that you owe, ‘feel gratitude and the need to reciprocate’ (I owe him for babysitting so often) and will need to repay, ‘do something good to somebody in return for past favours’ (how can I ever repay you for your kindness) or, more contractually pay your dues, ‘do your duty’ (I’ve paid my dues by looking after the children for four years-now it’s your turn!). And if acting according to morality will be careful not to short-change, ‘give inferior or inadequate service or treatment to’ (on taking the job I was promised promotion at the first opportunity – I think I’ve been short-changed in the present personnel actions). Or moral accounting might take the form of Retribution: pay back, ‘take revenge on someone who has treated you badly’; settle accounts / old scores, ‘take revenge by repaying an insult or harm’ (I’ve finally settled accounts with her for refusing me a job). If one behaves well one builds up credit, honour, pride, reputation (his credit is high with the President) so that people appreciate ‘feel gratitude for’ you or your actions. If you are lucky, when you behave badly people may make allowances, ‘refrain from criticism or judgement’ (we should make allowances for him – he’s just lost his wife).
Relation of these metaphor themes to capitalism In the ideology of market capitalism: • The competitiveness of the market is dependent on the metaphor of ACTIVITY IS FIGHTING and • The functioning of the market and trade depends upon the ability to equate qualitatively different things via the metaphor QUALITY IS QUANTITY /MONEY/WEALTH.
Summary I hope I have shown that metaphor themes are ideological in the sense that they partially determine social practice as, for example, medical practice is still largely dominated by DISEASE IS WAR/INVASION And that the ideological exercise of power in capitalist society is reinforced by themes such as ACTIVITY IS FIGHTING, and QUALITY IS MONEY/WEALTH
Various approaches to the critical discourse study of metaphor 1. 2. 3. 4.
analysis of specific discourses; concordance studies; lexicological studies; cognitive linguistics studies. My approach has been lexicological but informed by all the other three approaches directly or indirectly. Ideological perspectives might be brought to bear in the other three approaches: discourse (Charteris-Black 2005) concordance (Deignan 2005) and cognitive (Lakoff 1996).
References Charteris-Black, J. 2005. Politicians and Rhetoric: The Persuasive Power of Metaphor. Basingstoke: PalgraveMacmillan. Chilton, P. 1996 Security Metaphors: Cold War Discourse from Containment to Common House. New York: Peter Lang. Deignan, A. 2005 Metaphor and Corpus Linguistics. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Goatly, A. 2007 Washing the Brain: metaphor and hidden ideology. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Harvey, D. 1996. Justice, Nature and the Geography of Difference. Oxford: OUP Heidegger, M. 1971. Poetry, Language, Thought. New York: Harper and Row. Jones,N. 2002. Gene therapy gets the body to attack cancer. New Scientist 21/12/2002: 10. Lakoff, G. 1996. Moral Politics: What Conservatives Know that Liberals Don’t. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.
References ctd. Lakoff, G. and Johnson, M. 1980. Metaphors We Live By. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Metalude www.ln.edu.hk/lle/cwd/project01/web/home.html or http://www.ln.edu.hk/lle/cwd03/lnproject chi/home.html. USER ID: , PASSWORD: Schumacher, E.F.1973/1999. Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered. Point Roberts WA and Vancouver: Hartley and Marks. Sontag, S. 1991. Illness as metaphor, AIDS and its metaphors. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Watts, G. 2003. Making peace with deadly bacteria. New Scientist 4/1/2003: 30. Weinstock, J., Elliott, D., Summers, R. and Qadir, K. 1999. Questions on research on potential helminthic therapy of inflammatory bowel disease. Unpublished paper, University of Iowa.