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Magnifying Glass

Metaphor Analysis

Metaphor Analysis: Projects

My Projects

Metaphor Work Portfolio



A digital tool for learning prepositions

Work done in collaboration with Marlene Johannson Falck.

Prepositions are notoriously difficult to teach in an ESL context, even for advanced students (Tyler, 2012) due to their many literal and metaphorical uses. While some promising research from cognitive and corpus linguistics suggest that systematic lessons are effective (e.g. Johansson Falck, 2018; Littlemore, 2009; Boers & Demecheleer, 1998; Tyler, 2012; Mueller, 2011), few of these insights have been made accessible for teachers to use in the classroom.

We present a digital tool that systematically introduces different typical preposition-uses.

Two studies suggest exciting preliminary results: (1) the cognitive tool out performed the traditional content and (2) the cognitive tool actually provided growth between the post-test and delayed post-test suggesting long term benefits!


Metaphor Identification

PIMS: a procedure to identify metaphorical scenes reflected and evoked by linguistic expressions in discourse

Work done in collaboration with Marlene Johannson Falck.

This work (Johansson Falck & Okonski, under review) is inspired by metaphor identification procedures developed by the Pragglejaz group but guided by the view that linguistic meaning is embodied in nature and equated with complex conceptualizations. Building on insights from research into how the mind makes, we introduce a procedure that highlights the contextual meanings of linguistic units and is particularly useful for the analyses of linguistic units larger than individual words. We argue that this methodology provides increased reliability for prepositional constructions in particular. Results will be discussed in relationship to theoretical and empirical validity and this method’s potential to be applied to other types of figurative language in the future. 

Paper currently under review.


Metaphorical Meaning from Real World Spatial Relations

The Case of Into

Work done in collaboration with Marlene Johannson Falck.

Our analysis of the most frequent collocations (i.e. co-occurring words) of into (Johansson Falck & Okonski, in preparation) shows that the nouns that are typically found one word to the right of into typically refer to spatial and abstract concepts from specific semantic categories. This methodology provides a novel way to organize the seeming random uses into meaningful semantic categories.

Examples of such semantic categories include ‘areas and containers’ (e.g., space and bowls), ‘pieces and shapes’ (e.g., strips, cubes, and chunks), ‘lighting conditions’ (e.g., blackness, darkness, and daylight), and ‘phases in people’s lives’ (e.g., manhood, adulthood, or adolescence) that someone or something moves into in literal or metaphorical ways.

This work suggests that by identifying the categories of concepts that are construed by each spatial relation we can achieve an overview of how spatial relations are used to structure language and thought in non-metaphorical and metaphorical ways.

Metaphor Analysis: Projects
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