Interpreting Cognitive Metaphor: Using Relevance Theory and an Alternative Account

in Stylistics and Social Cognition
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This chapter aims to examine how metaphoric meanings are constructed in discourse processing, especially in a literary context. The relevance model, according to its pragmatic stand, should be able to interpret cognitive metaphor. However, some potential problems emerge when using the relevance model in metaphor studies. In order to solve these problems, I further review a salience model, which emphasizes the salient lexical meanings in the initial stage of metaphoric processing. As salience and relevance are both important aspects in interpreting metaphor in discourse context I further propose an alternative account that reveals both of the notion of salience and relevance. This proposed account is applied to analyse a selected literary text, Chest, to illustrate its metaphorical use of language. It is argued in this paper that relevance and salience are both important in metaphoric processing, and an analytical account that has both pragmatic and cognitive elements is needed to reveal the development of salient and relevant metaphorical meanings in the discourse context.

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