A mere metaphor? Framings of the concept of metaphor in biological specialist communication

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This chapter presents a discourse analytical study of explicit reference to the concept of metaphor within a broad range of biological disciplines. The aim of the analysis was to study in what capacity the term ‘metaphor’ was conceptualized and framed in actual scientific research writing, and whether the different framings were related to the specific discipline or genre or even stage of scientific development. Though the concept of metaphor is generally valued as a scientific heuristic resource, two distinct positions on the specific values of metaphor in science are represented in the material. The dominant position criticizes metaphor for its open-endedness and aims at either empirically sanitizing or discarding the metaphor. A less dominant and more social-constructive position embraces the open-endedness as a valuable and dynamic scientific driving force suitable for scientific communication as well as heuristics. In either case, the explicit reference to metaphor functions as a rhetorical strategy for promoting and positioning the author’s own research.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMetaphor in Specialist Discourse
EditorsJ. Berenike Herrmann, Tony Berber Sardinha
Place of PublicationPhiladelphia
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
Publication date2015
ISBN (Print)9789027202086
ISBN (Electronic) 9789027267849
Publication statusPublished - 2015
SeriesMetaphor in Language, Cognition, and Communication

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