The use of metaphors in academic communication: traps or treasures

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1 The use of metaphors in academic communication: traps or treasures Dehui Zhou & Edgar Heineken University Duisburg-Essen (Germany) & Abstract The rationalists and the empiricists in the 17th century once argued that metaphor is an inferior device to convey objective truth and should be replaced by literal statements. On the one hand, this article shares Lakoff and Johnson s (1980 & 1999) view that metaphor is useful to pursue experiential truth and explains why metaphors are necessary and not just nice (Ortony, 1975: 45). On the other hand, it reports a cognitive psychological experiment, which shows that metaphor comprehension can be greatly influenced by people s pre-existing conceptual knowledge and the context, in which the metaphor appears. The authors advocate a conscious use of metaphors in academic communication with full awareness of the factors that may influence metaphor comprehension. Keywords: metaphor comprehension, scientific communication, teacher metaphors, Self-Assessment Manikin, two-mode network analysis Resumen Los racionalistas y los empiristas del siglo XVII argumentaron que la metáfora es un medio débil para expresar verdades objectivas y que debería ser sustituida por expresiones literales. Por un lado, el artículo está de acuerdo con Lakoff y Johnson (1980 y 1999) en que la metáfora es útil para alcanzar y expresar verdades y explica porque metaphors are necessary and not just nice en la communicacion académica (Ortony, 1975:45). Por otro lado, el artículo presenta los resultados de un experimento psicologico cognitivo que demuestra que la comprensión de la metáfora está condicionada por los conocimientos conceptuales de la gente y por el contexto en el cuál la metáfora aparece. Los autores abogan por un uso consciente de la metáfora en la comunicacion académica teniendo en cuenta los factores que puedan influir en el entendimiento de la metáfora. 23

2 DEHUI ZHOU & EDGAR HEINEKEN Palabras clave: comprensión de metáforas, comunicación científica, metáforas del docente, Self-assessment Manikin, análisis de redes bimodales. Introduction In this article, academic communication refers to the knowledge-based scientific communication (Leydesdorff, 1997) in the form of scientific publications and other scholarly activities including presentations in academic conferences and lectures at universities. Distinguished from other forms of communications, academic communication mainly aims at facilitating the creation and the spreading of knowledge and is expected to be factual, objective and direct. When the first scientific journal was published in the seventeenth century (Ornstein, 1928), rationalists and empiricists at that time were enthusiastic in discussing what kind of language should be used for academic writings. Motivated by the goal of pursuing the plain truth and aesthetic simplicity, they regarded metaphor as an additional or superfluous rhetoric device and claimed that metaphor had nothing to do with the course of capturing things-in-themselves and should be excluded from scientific communication. Hobbes ( ) argued, [m]etaphors, and senseless, ambiguous words, are like ignes fatui; and reasoning upon them, is wandering amongst innumerable absurdities (Hobbes, [1651] 1996: 36). Ortony (1979) summarized the condemnatory view of metaphor in scientific communication. They are fuzzy and vague, inessential frills, appropriate for the purpose of the politician and of the poet, but not for those of the scientists, who are attempting to furnish an objective description of physical reality. (Ortony, 1979: 2) Two claims are attributed to this condemnation view of metaphors. One claim is that metaphor is unable to reveal objective truth. The other claim is that metaphor can be paraphrased in a neutral literal way without losing its meaning. This article presents Lakoff and Johnson s (1980 & 1999) experiential view to deal with the first claim and rejects the second one through emphasizing the irreplaceable functions of metaphor in academic communication. However, not only the question of whether metaphor can 24

3 THE USE OF METAPHORS IN ACADEMIC COMMUNICATION encode truth and knowledge shall be involved in the discussion of metaphor usage in academic communications but also the question of whether metaphor can be well decoded, or in other words, well comprehended. The focus of this study is to deal with the latter from a cognitive psychological perspective. Metaphor and experiential truth Lakoff and Johnson (1999) took an embodiment approach to tackle the issue of metaphor and truth. They questioned the existence of an absolute objective and advocated an experientialist account of truth. According to them, people s experiential interaction with the world can provide a stable basis for their knowledge. Meaning is based on understanding, which is largely structured by people s embodiment and their imaginative process. Metaphor is regarded as a chief vehicle for people to achieve such an understanding, as it enables them to map their experiences in one domain onto another domain. For instance, people may use their concrete experience with plants to talk about abstract ideas by saying MATHEMATICS HAS MANY BRANCHES (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980) or even use water current to create one of the basic electronic terms, (electric) current. A statement, whether in the form of a literal or metaphorical utterance can express experiential truth so far it is coherent with people s basic-level perception and accepted by the scientific communities (Stambuk, 1998). The irreplaceable position of metaphor Metaphor is not decorative, but omnipresent in language (Richards, 1936). It can not be simply replaced by literal statements. Ortony (1975) employed three hypotheses to support his assertion that metaphors are necessary and not just nice (1975: 45). These are: - The inexpressibility hypothesis suggests that metaphors can express ideas, which are otherwise not easy or even impossible to express in literal language. - The compactness hypothesis emphasizes the direct and concise form of a metaphor to capture the essence of a particular experience. 25

4 DEHUI ZHOU & EDGAR HEINEKEN - The vividness hypothesis suggests that intangible complex and relational aspects of ideas are more communicable through metaphors. In scientific communication, metaphors can communicate abstract scientific ideas, conceptualize scientific problems and influence the ways in which the problems are approached (Huber, 2005). The model of atom proposed by Niels Bohr ( ) uses the structure of the solar system to explain the structure of the atom. In the field of communication, the transmission metaphor underlies Shanon and Weaver s (1949) mathematical model. Draaisma (1999) collected abundant metaphors that have permeated the history of psychological memory studies, for instance, memory as PHOSPHOR, MICRO COSMOS, CONSCIOUS PHOTOGRAPHY, PHOTOGRAPHY, COMPUTER, NETWORK, HOLOGRAM, and so on. Stambuk (1998) pointed out that metaphor can use existing language structure to create new conceptual categories in communicating new knowledge. In order to communicate new knowledge in any field of human experience, including areas of science and technology, we need language structure which can express new conceptual categories ( ) One of the ways of creating new language structures by means of existing ones is a metaphorical use of the language. (Stambuk, 1998: 373) Why is metaphor so important to communicate new knowledge? Again, the embodiment hypothesis provides a good explanation. Due to people s common embodiment, experiences and imaginative capacities, many concepts and basic forms of reasoning can be shared, which is vital for academic communication. Lakoff (1993) argued that metaphor can greatly facilitate people s abstract thinking because it allows them to project structure from well-structured sensorimotor domains to less structured domains. In his original words, [m]etaphor is the main mechanism through which we comprehend abstract concepts and perform abstract reasoning (Lakoff, 1993: 244). Through this mechanism, people are enabled to access a new idea or new experience more easily through retrieving their former relevant experience. In this sense, metaphors can hardly be replaced by literal statements in academic communications. 26

5 THE USE OF METAPHORS IN ACADEMIC COMMUNICATION The problem of metaphor comprehension Motivated by the flourishing of metaphors in various academic disciplines, numerous studies have been conducted to demonstrate the vital position of metaphor in economics and management (Morgan, 1986; Inns, 2002), in psychology (Roediger, 1980; Sternberg, 1995), in media communication (Forceville, 1996), in political science (Mio, 1997), in computer science (Carroll, Mack & Kellogg, 1991) and so on. By contrast, ambiguity or misunderstanding in academic communication resulting from the misinterpretation of metaphor has been vastly neglected. One of the few studies concerning this issue is Littlemore s (2001) examination of metaphor usage in lectures at a British university. This study showed that the students often misunderstood the main points of lectures and they misinterpreted the lectures stance toward the topic of the lectures because they were unable to comprehend the prevalent metaphors frequently used by the lecturers. There are a number of cognitive linguistic and cognitive psychological studies concerning metaphor comprehension. According to the standard pragmatic model of metaphor processing (Grice, 1975), metaphor comprehension involves several stages, including first the recognition of incompatible truth after attempting literal interpretation, and then the reconstruction of possible meaning and proper interpretation of the utterance (Miller, 1979). However, a large number of empirical work refutes the assumption that literal processing is necessary and obligatory prior to metaphorical processing (Keysar, 1989). Gibbs s (1994) direct access model (1994) suggests that metaphors are interpreted directly and the cognitive understanding processes of metaphorical and literal language are essentially the same. Moreover, other empirical studies also suggest that metaphors do not have to take longer to comprehend than literal statements when sufficient context is provided (Glucksberg, 1998). Coulson and Van Petten s (2002) continuity claim suggests that both literal and metaphorical language processing occur in the same course and involve the same processing mechanism (Coulson & Van Petten, 2002: 959). However, they strongly rejected the view that metaphorical sentences are no more difficult to comprehend than literal language. In their opinion, metaphorical language requires more cognitive effort for processing, 27

6 DEHUI ZHOU & EDGAR HEINEKEN although both literal and metaphorical language may take the same amount of time to comprehend. Moreover, Giora (1997) argued that the comprehension of metaphors, in comparison to the literal statements may involve different processes (direct/ parallel/ sequential) that depend on different types of metaphors. Several factors have been identified that can affect metaphor comprehension. First, a number of empirical studies suggest that context greatly facilitates metaphor comprehension (Gibbs, 1994; Glucksberg, 1998). Second, Jones and Estes (2006) agreed with Bowdle and Gentner (2005) that the conventionality of a metaphor affects how people comprehend it. Jones and Estes (2006: 23) defined conventionality as the extent to which the concept is associated with a figurative meaning, whereas Bowdle and Gentner (2005) suggested that conventionality is closely related to whether a domain-general category is available through the base term (vehicle). Third, Chiappe, Kennedy and Chiappe (2003) argued that aptness is an important factor that affects metaphor comprehension. They defined aptness as the extent to which the statement captures important features of the topic (Chiappe, Kennedy & Chiappe, 2003: 97). In this cognitive psychological study of metaphor comprehension, the authors combine the factors affecting metaphor comprehension and draw the following hypothesis: the comprehension of metaphor can be greatly influenced by the pre-existing conceptual knowledge as indicated by the conventionality and the aptness of the metaphor in question and the context in which that metaphor appears. An online experiment on comprehending teacher metaphors In order to test the hypothesis raised above, a cross-cultural online experiment was conducted through exploring pre-service teachers comprehension of three teacher metaphors (Bullough, 1994). Two cultural groups, Chinese and German participants were involved because it is a convenient way to obtain two experimental groups, whose estimation of the conventionality and aptness of a metaphor may differ from one another to a considerable degree. The experiment was conducted in participants native language. The original text was written in German and translated into 28

7 THE USE OF METAPHORS IN ACADEMIC COMMUNICATION Chinese. The whole experiment was designed in internet format and implemented at the virtual experiment laboratory, Lab.OR, developed by Heineken, Schulte and Ollesch (2003). To explore how subjects understood three teacher metaphors, both the affective impression and the conceptual representation of the metaphors were explored. Subjects Ninety Chinese students at Wuhan Jianghan University and Nanjing University and ninety German students at the University of Duisburg-Essen and the University of Dortmund completed this experiment. All of them were sophomores engaged in their pre-service teacher education. They were informed about this online research and the corresponding URL addresses 1 either by their lecturers or by the experimenter during the lectures at their corresponding universities. After the lectures, they participated in the experiment through the Internet on a voluntary basis without the presence of the experimenter. Material The metaphors used for the experiment were selected on the basis of a pilot study, in which 30 Chinese and 30 German students at the University of Duisburg-Essen were asked to list out three teacher metaphors and rate how conventional (familiar) and apt (appropriate) those metaphors appeared to them on a scale of 1 (very novel) to 5 (very familiar). As a result, the following three metaphors were selected: 1) The teacher is a candle, which was estimated by the Chinese as a very conventional and very apt metaphor but by the Germans as novel and inapt; 2) The teacher is a shepherd, which was estimated by the Germans as conventional and apt but by the Chinese as less conventional and less apt; and 3) The teacher is a captain, which was estimated by both the Chinese and the Germans as a less conventional but apt teacher metaphor. In order to evaluate the affective impression of the metaphors, this experiment adopted the so-called Self-Assessment Manikin (SAM) devised by Lang (1985). The SAM (see Figure 1) is a five-point likert pictorial scale, 29

8 DEHUI ZHOU & EDGAR HEINEKEN very conventional and very apt metaphor but by the Germans as novel and inapt; 2) THE TEACHER IS A SHEPHERD, which was estimated by the Germans as conventional and apt but by the Chinese as less conventional and less apt; and 3) THE TEACHER IS A CAPTAIN, which was estimated by both the Chinese and the Germans as a less conventional but apt teacher metaphor. allowing for direct ratings of dominance dimension (from a very small In order to evaluate the affective impression of the metaphors, this experiment figure adopted representing the so-called a Self-Assessment feeling of being Manikin controlled (SAM) devised to by a Lang very (1985). big figure representing The SAM in-control), (see Figure 1) pleasure is a five-point dimension likert pictorial (from scale, allowing a frowning for direct unhappy ratings of dominance dimension (from a very small figure representing a figure to a smiling happy figurer) and arousal dimension (from a sleepy feeling of being controlled to a very big figure representing in-control), pleasure quiet figure to a very excited figure). dimension (from a frowning unhappy figure to a smiling happy figurer) and arousal dimension (from a sleepy quiet figure to a very excited figure). Figure 1: The self- assessment manikin (see Morris, 1995: 64). The graphic SAM is adopted in this study for two reasons. First, the SAM is as reliable as the classic method, the semantic differential (SD) (Osgood, Suci & Tannenbaum, 6 IBÉRICA 18 (2009): 1957), - for measuring affective meanings. Lang (1985) found that there were positive correlations between the scores obtained using the SAM and those from the SD for dominance (.66), pleasure (.94) and arousal (.94) in his study. Morris and Bradley (1994) used the SAM to re-evaluate 135 emotion adjectives that were factor analyzed by Russell and Mehrabian (1977) and obtained similar results. Second, compared with the SD, the SAM is argued to be a culture-free and language free measure that costs less time to complete and causes less respondent wear-out (Bradley & Lang, 1994). In order to explore the conceptual representation of the metaphors, thirtythree features 2 were rated in the experiment according to their suitability to the teacher metaphor. Those features were generated by the Chinese and the German participants of a pilot study as the most important features of the source concepts (CANDLE, CAPTAIN and SHEPHERD) or the target concept (TEACHER). Procedure After the participants entered their personal information, the experiment started. First, they were asked to imagine a teacher according to a specific 30

9 THE USE OF METAPHORS IN ACADEMIC COMMUNICATION teacher metaphor (THE TEACHER IS A CANDLE, THE TEACHER IS A SHEPHERD or THE TEACHER IS A CAPTAIN). The participants with the same metaphor were randomly led to one of the three conditions set by the computer, namely, no role play, positive role play, negative role play. In the role play, participants were asked to play the role of a new class teacher at a virtual middle school for a complete school year. They were required to behave in keeping with the teacher image that they were presented. For every quarter of a school year, they received a timely class report. Each report appeared on the screen for only 60 seconds. The text of each class report included twelve items in three aspects: class situation, pupils behaviour, and parents opinions. In each aspect, four items were presented. Three items reflected three metaphorical teacher images and the other one was formulated in a neutral way, free from the influence of any metaphorical teacher image. For instance, the parents opinions in one of the class reports included the following items: 1) The teacher protects the pupils carefully (SHEPHERD image); 2) The pupils parents are satisfied with the teacher (neutral expression); 3) The teacher s authoritarian attitude was found to be appealing (CAPTAIN image); 4) The selfless engagement of the teacher is meritorious (CANDLE image). In order to control the primacy-recency effect, the neutral items and the items reflecting the metaphorical teacher image appeared in an order randomized by the computer system. The class teacher was given four minutes to write an message 3 to his/her class in keeping with the class report. After four minutes, the page disappeared and the participants were automatically led to the next task. By positive role-play condition, the participants constantly received positive feedback, whereas the others received negative feedback under the negative role play condition. A participant would encounter a positive or a negative role play (randomized by the Lab. OR system), independent from the participant s writings. After the role play, the pictorial dominance dimension of the SAM first appeared on the screen. Participants were asked to select one of the five pictorial manikins that best suited their impression of the provided teacher image. After their click, they would be led to the estimation of the pleasure and the arousal dimension. Then participants were asked to rate how suitable the thirty-three features could be used to describe the provided teacher image in separate pages. 31

10 DEHUI ZHOU & EDGAR HEINEKEN Design This empirical study has a three-factorial design with cultural group, metaphor and context as the three factors. The factor cultural group has two levels (1: Chinese; 2: Germans), the factor metaphor three levels (1: CANDLE; 2: CAPTAIN; 3: SHEPHERD) and the factor context three levels (1: no role play; 2: positive role play; 3: negative role play). Results and discussion The SAM ratings were submitted to a three-factorial multivariate analysis of variance. The feature ratings were submitted to the network analysis. 1) Analysis of the SAM ratings According to the three-factorial multivariate analysis of variance, not only the factor metaphor (F(6,290)=3,34, p<.01) but also the factor context (F(6,290)=16,18, p<.001) had a significant effect on the SAM ratings of their impression of TEACHER. Although the factor cultural group did not seem to exert a main factor effect (F(3,144)=,424, p> 0.5), a significant interaction between the factor cultural group and the factor metaphor (F(6,290)=6,31, p<.001) was available. Figure 2 shows how the Chinese and the Germans rated the SAM according to their affective impression of the concept TEACHER in three different TEACHER metaphors. When the metaphor THE TEACHER IS A CANDLE was provided, the Chinese impression on the concept TEACHER turned out to be more powerful, more pleasant and more active than that of the Germans. The error bars of the Chinese ratings on the three SAM dimensions were shorter than those of the German ratings. This shows that the Chinese had a stronger congruence in their ratings than the Germans. By contrast, the Germans rated the dominance dimension, the pleasure dimension and the arousal dimension according to their impression on the concept TEACHER higher than the Chinese when the metaphor THE TEACHER IS A SHEPHERD was provided. Under the condition of the metaphor THE TEACHER IS A SHEPHERD, the error bars of the German ratings on the three SAM dimensions were shorter than those of the Chinese ratings. This suggests that the Germans had a stronger congruence in their ratings of the concept TEACHER in the metaphor THE TEACHER IS A SHEPHERD than the Chinese. The figure also 32

11 THE USE OF METAPHORS IN ACADEMIC COMMUNICATION THE USE OF METAPHORS IN ACADEMIC COMMUNICATION shows Chinese that ratings. the Chinese This suggests and the that German the Germans impression had a profiles stronger ofcongruence the concept in TEACHER their ratings of in the concept metaphor TEACHER THE USE OF TEACHER in METAPHORS the metaphor IN ACADEMIC IS A THE COMMUNICATION CAPTAIN TEACHER did IS not A SHEPHERD than the Chinese. The figure also shows that the Chinese and the differ so much from each other as under the condition of the other two German Chinese impression ratings. This profiles suggests of that the the concept Germans TEACHER had a stronger in the congruence metaphor in THE teacher TEACHER metaphors. IS A CAPTAIN However, did the not German differ so subjects much from seemed each other to have as under a more their ratings of the concept TEACHER in the metaphor THE TEACHER IS A the pleasant condition SHEPHERD impression of the than other the on two Chinese. the teacher concept The metaphors. figure TEACHER also shows However, that in the the the Chinese metaphor German and the subjects THE TEACHER seemed German to have IS impression A a CAPTAIN more profiles pleasant of than the impression the concept Chinese TEACHER on subjects. the concept in the metaphor TEACHER THE in the TEACHER IS A CAPTAIN did not differ so much from each other as under the metaphor THE TEACHER IS A CAPTAIN than the Chinese subjects. condition of the other two teacher metaphors. However, the German subjects seemed to have a more pleasant impression on the concept TEACHER in the metaphor THE TEACHER IS A CAPTAIN than the Chinese subjects. Figure 2: Figure The 2: Chinese The Chinese and and the the German SAM ratings of the concept TEACHER under under the conditions the conditions of different of different teacher teacher metaphors. (The (The three SAM dimensions: dominance, pleasure, pleasure, and arousal). and arousal). Taking the factor role play as the focus, Figure 3 shows how the Chinese and Taking the the German factor subjects role rated play the as SAM the according focus, Figure to their 3 affective shows impression how the Chinese of the and Taking the German concept the factor subjects TEACHER role rated in play various the SAM as teacher the according focus, metaphors Figure to their under 3 affective shows the different how impression role the play Chinese of the and concept the conditions. TEACHER German Under subjects in the various positive rated teacher role-play the metaphors condition, SAM according both under the the Chinese to different their and affective the role play impression conditions. Germans of Under rated the all the concept the positive three TEACHER dimensions role-play of in the condition, various SAM according teacher both the to metaphors their Chinese affective and under the the Germans impression different rated on role all the the concept play three TEACHER conditions. dimensions higher Under of the than the SAM under positive according the condition role-play to of their no role condition, affective play or the negative role play. Under the conditions of the role with the impression on the concept TEACHER higher than under the condition of no role both negative the Chinese development, and the Germans Chinese and rated the German all the impression three dimensions profiles of the of the play or concept the negative TEACHER role were play. less powerful, Under the less conditions pleasant and of less the active role than play under with the SAM negative according development, to their the affective Chinese and impression the German on the impression concept profiles TEACHER the condition of the positive role play. This shows that the factor role play of the higher concept plays than TEACHER an under important the were role condition less in affecting powerful, of the no less Chinese role pleasant play and or the and the Germans less negative active affective than role under play. Under the condition impression the conditions of the concept positive of the TEACHER role play. in various This with shows teacher the negative metaphors. that the development, factor role play the Chinese plays an and important the German role in impression affecting the profiles Chinese ofand the the concept Germans TEACHER affective were impression less powerful, on the concept less pleasant TEACHER and in less various active teacher than under metaphors. the condition of the positive role play. This shows that the factor role play plays an important role in affecting the Chinese and the Germans affective impression on the concept TEACHER in various teacher metaphors. IBÉRICA 18 (2009): - 9 IBÉRICA 18 (2009):

12 D. ZHOU & E. HEINEKEN DEHUI ZHOU & EDGAR HEINEKEN D. ZHOU & E. HEINEKEN Figure 3: Figure The 3: Chinese The Chinese and and the the German SAM ratings of concept TEACHER under under the different the different role-play role-play conditions. (The three SAM dimensions: dominance, pleasure, and arousal). conditions. (The three SAM pleasure, and arousal). 2) Analysis of the feature ratings 2) 2) Analysis of of the the feature ratings ratings In this study, the two-mode network analysis was used to compare how the In In this Chinese study, subjects the two-mode and the German network subjects analysis rated the was suitability used to of the compare thirty-three how the Chinese features subjects in describing subjects and and the three the German metaphors. German subjects The subjects rated two-mode rated the suitability network analysis the suitability of the involves ofthirty-three the three 2004). features In this in study, describing events referred three to metaphors. the ratings of the The 33 features; two-mode actors network features actor-by-event in describing or three case-by-affiliation metaphors. data The sets two-mode (Doreian, network Batagelj analysis & Ferligoj, involves actor-by-event or case-by-affiliation data sets (Doreian, Batagelj & Ferligoj, analysis referred involves to the subjects actor-by-event under the or correspondent case-by-affiliation experimental data condition. sets (Doreian, To 2004). express In this it study, in a more events mathematical referred way, to the the bipartite ratings of networks the 33 N= features; (V 1,V 2, actors E) referred Batagelj actually to & the Ferligoj, had subjects their vertex 2004). under V set In the partitioned this correspondent study, into events two subsets experimental referred V 1 (actors, condition. the Chinese ratings To of express the 33 subjects it features; in or a German more actors mathematical subjects referred ) and V 2 way, (events, to the the the subjects bipartite ratings of under networks the 33 the features). correspondent N= (V 1,V 2, E) actually experimental For had the quantities their vertex condition. description V set To of partitioned express the networks, into it in two two a network subsets more measures, V mathematical 1 (actors, namely the Chinese way, the subjects network German degree subjects centralisation ) and index V 2 (events, and the the density ratings of of the networks 33 features). were bipartite calculated networks through N= the (VUCINET 1,V 2, E) 6 actually software had package their (Borgatti, vertex V Everett set partitioned & For into the Freeman, two quantities subsets 2002). description VFor 1 (actors, each experiment of Chinese the networks, condition, subjects two there or network were German ten measures, German subjects subjects namely ) and the V network degree centralisation index and the density of the networks were 2 and ten Chinese subjects. Since the networks constructed under all conditions (events, the ratings of the 33 features). calculated shared through the identical the numbers UCINET of the 6 vertices software (V 1 :10 package subjects and (Borgatti, V 2 :33 features), Everett & Freeman, For the network 2002). quantities For degree each description centralisation experiment of index condition, the and networks, the density there were two can ten be network employed German measures, for subjects and namely ten the Chinese comparison the network subjects. between degree Since the centralisation the correspondent networks bipartite index constructed networks and the under constructed density all conditions according to the Chinese and the Germans feature ratings under various of the shared the identical numbers of the vertices (V networks were calculated through the UCINET 1 :10 subjects and V 6 software 2 :33 features), experimental conditions. package the network degree centralisation index and the density can be employed for the (Borgatti, comparison The network Everett between degree & Freeman, centralisation the correspondent 2002). is related For each to bipartite a compactness experiment networks property condition, constructed of a there network. The network degree centralisation index is a number between 0 and according were ten to German the Chinese subjects and and the ten Germans Chinese feature subjects. ratings Since under the networks various 1. The index is 0 when all vertices have equal centrality value, and 1 when one experimental constructed vertex completely conditions. under all dominates conditions all shared others. In the this identical study, the numbers network of degree the vertices The (V 1 network :10 centralisation, subjects C degree and D (Freeman, centralisation V 2 :33 features), 1977) was calculated is related the to network according a compactness degree to the following property centralisation of a measure: network. index and The the network density degree can centralisation be employed index for the is comparison a number between 0 and the 1. correspondent The index is 0 bipartite when all networks vertices have constructed equal centrality according value, to the and Chinese 1 when one and vertex completely dominates all others. In this study, the network degree the Germans feature ratings under various experimental conditions. centralisation, C D (Freeman, 1977) was calculated according to the following measure: The 10 network IBÉRICA degree 18 (2009): - centralisation is related to a compactness property of a network. The network degree centralisation index is a number between 0 and 1. The index is 0 when all vertices have equal centrality value, and IBÉRICA 18 (2009): -

13 THE USE OF METAPHORS IN ACADEMIC COMMUNICATION when one vertex completely dominates all others. In this study, the network degree centralisation, C D (Freeman, 1977) was calculated according to the following measure: THE USE OF METAPHORS IN ACADEMIC COMMUNICATION THE USE OF METAPHORS IN ACADEMIC COMMUNICATION " * ( C! C ( x)) x# E D D CD = " n* ( C!! 2 C ( x)) x# E D D where C* where C* D is the highest value C D is the highest D = of selected vertex degree centrality measure C value of selected vertex degree centrality measure D (x). n! 2 where C D (x). C* Like the C D is the highest value of selected vertex degree centrality measure C D, the density of network also takes on a value between 0 and 1. It is D a (x). measure Like the of Cconnectedness D, the density of ofthe network. also takes on a value between 0 and 1. Like It is the a measure C D, the density of connectedness of network also of the takes network. 2 " on a value between 0 and 1. It is a measure of connectedness of the network. = a i, j # V ij Density 2n " ( n! 1) When the density of a network is closer = a i, j # V ij Density to n1, ( nthe! 1) network is considered dense. Otherwise, it is sparse. In this case, a denser network indicates that more subjects When rate the the suitability density of of a the network 33 features is closer higher to 1, than the those network which is considered are involved dense. in a When the density of a network is closer to 1, the network is considered Otherwise, less dense network. it is sparse. In this case, a denser network indicates that more subjects rate dense. the Otherwise, suitability of it the is sparse. 33 features In this higher case, than a denser those which network are indicates involved in that a In the bipartite networks constructed according to the feature ratings, edges with less more dense subjects network. rate the suitability of the 33 features higher than those which value less than 3 were removed from the network. The results are presented in In Table are the involved bipartite 1. The in Chinese networks a less dense network constructed network. based according on their to feature the feature ratings ratings, of the edges metaphor with value THE In the TEACHER less bipartite than 3 networks were IS A removed CANDLE constructed from without the according network. role play to The is the both results feature more are ratings, compact presented edges (Cin D : Table >0.3992) 1. The Chinese and more network dense based (0.7553>0.4889) on their feature than ratings that of the the metaphor German network with value (see less also than Figure 3 3). were It indicates removed that from the Chinese the network. agreed The with results each other are THE TEACHER IS A CANDLE without role play is both more compact (C D : >0.3992) more presented than the in Table Germans and 1. more The did Chinese dense their (0.7553>0.4889) ratings network and based the Chinese on than their that rated feature of those the ratings German features of network much the metaphor higher (see also than THE Figure the TEACHER Germans. 3). It indicates After IS A the that CANDLE positive the Chinese role without agreed play, role the with Cplay D each raised other both to more than compact and the the Germans (C density D : >0.3992) did to in their according ratings and and more to the the dense Chinese Germans (0.7553>0.4889) rated feature those features ratings, than much which higher resulted than in the a decrease Germans. of After the difference the positive between role play, the Chinese the C and the that of the German network (see also Figure 3). It indicates that the D raised to Chinese Germans. and In the contrast, density the to negative role according play produced to the Germans less high feature ratings and ratings, less which congruence agreed resulted with among each in a other decrease subjects more of in than their the difference ratings. Germans between did in their Chinese ratings and the Germans. Chinese In rated contrast, those the features negative much role play higher produced than the less Germans. high ratings After and less the By contrast, the German network of the metaphor THE TEACHER IS A congruence SHEPHERD positive role among under play, the the the subjects condition C D in raised their ratings. of to no role play and is the more density compact to (C D : By >0.3965) according contrast, to the the and Germans more network dense feature (0.7054>0.6262) of ratings, the metaphor which than resulted THE that TEACHER in of a the decrease Chinese IS of A SHEPHERD network. the difference After under the between role the play condition the with Chinese the of positive no and role development the play Germans. is more was In provided, compact contrast, the (Cthe C D : >0.3965) of negative the Chinese role play network and produced more increased dense less to high (0.7054>0.6262) , ratings and and the less density than congruence that increased of the among to Chinese the network. in comparison After the of the role no play role-play with the condition. positive development This shows that was the provided, positive the roleplay the context Chinese produced network higher increased ratings to , and more and congruence the density among increased the subjects to in C subjects in their ratings. D of in their By comparison contrast, ratings. the of the German no role-play network condition. of the metaphor This shows THE that TEACHER the positive roleplay context produced higher ratings and more congruence among the subjects in IS A Compared SHEPHERD with under the two the metaphors condition mentioned of no role above, play is THE more TEACHER compact IS (C D A : their ratings. CAPTAIN >0.3965) did not and exert more as much dense obvious (0.7054>0.6262) cultural differences. than that Under of the each Chinese roleplay condition, with the both two the metaphors C D and the mentioned density above, of the THE networks TEACHER constructed IS A Compared CAPTAIN according did to the not exert Chinese as much ratings obvious were cultural slightly differences. higher than Under their each German roleplay counterparts. condition, both the C D and the density of the networks constructed according to the Chinese ratings were slightly higher than their German 35

14 DEHUI ZHOU & EDGAR HEINEKEN network. After the role play with the positive development was provided, the C D of the Chinese network increased to , and the density increased to in comparison of the no role-play condition. This shows that the positive role-play context produced higher ratings and more congruence among the subjects in their ratings. Compared with the two metaphors mentioned above, THE TEACHER IS A CAPTAIN did not exert as much obvious cultural differences. Under each role-play condition, both the C D and the density of the networks constructed according to the Chinese ratings were slightly higher than their German counterparts. D. ZHOU & E. HEINEKEN Teacher Metaphors Role plays Cultural Cultural network degree Teacher Metaphors Role plays groups groups centralisation (CD) network degree centralisation (C ) Density THE TEACHER IS A CANDLE No role play Density Chinese Germans Chinese Role play-positive Germans Chinese Role play-negative Germans THE TEACHER IS A CAPTAIN THE TEACHER IS A SHEPHERD No role play Chinese Germans Chinese Role play-positive Germans Chinese Role play-negative Germans No role play Chinese Germans Chinese Role play-positive Germans Chinese Role play-negative Germans Table 1: The CD and the density of the bipartite networks constructed according to the 33 feature ratings. 36 Based altogether on the eighteen feature bipartite ratings graphs of were different drawn using metaphors the software under Pajek various (Batagelj & Mrvar, 2007). Here only the bipartite graph of the network obtained conditions, altogether eighteen bipartite graphs were drawn using the under the condition of THE TEACHER IS A CANDLE without role play is software presented Pajek as an (Batagelj example. & Mrvar, 2007). Here only the bipartite graph of the network In Figure 4, obtained the actors under (the Chinese the and condition the Germans) of and THE the events TEACHER (ratings of IS A CANDLE the 33 features) without were role treated play is as presented different vertices, as an and example. lines or edges were used to show the connections of actors (subjects) to the events (features). Actors tended In Figure to locate 4, the closer actors if they (the rated Chinese the features and the more Germans) similarly. Obviously, and the events the white (ratings vertices are located in a more condensed manner than the black vertices, which of the 33 features) were treated as different vertices, and lines or edges were Based on the feature ratings of different metaphors under various conditions, shows that a stronger congruence among the Chinese in their feature ratings. On the contrary, the Germans differed greatly from each other in their ratings. This indicates the lack of a consistent view of this metaphor among the Germans.

15 THE USE OF METAPHORS IN ACADEMIC COMMUNICATION used to show the connections of actors (subjects) to the events (features). Actors tended to locate closer if they rated the features more similarly. Obviously, the white vertices are located in a more condensed manner than the black vertices, which shows that a stronger congruence among the Chinese in their feature ratings. On the contrary, the Germans differed greatly from each other in their ratings. This indicates the lack of a consistent view of this metaphor among the Germans. THE USE OF METAPHORS IN ACADEMIC COMMUNICATION Figure 3: 4: Bipartite graph based on the feature ratings on THE TEACHER IS A CANDLE under the condition of no role play (C: Chinese, D: Germans). In all, both the SAM evaluation and the network analysis of the feature ratings show that there was a stronger consensus among the Chinese in not only their In all, affective both the impression SAM but evaluation also the conceptual and the representation network analysis of the metaphor of the THE feature ratings TEACHER show that IS there A CANDLE. was a stronger Conversely, consensus the Germans among the affectively Chinese and in not only their conceptually affective agreed impression with each other but also more the than conceptual the Chinese in representation understanding the of the metaphor THE TEACHER IS A SHEPHERD. As to the metaphor THE metaphor TEACHER THE IS TEACHER A CAPTAIN, there IS were CANDLE. no obvious Conversely, cultural differences. the Germans This affectively indicates and that conceptually a metaphor can agreed be interpreted with by each different other people more differently than the due Chinese to in understanding the differences the of metaphor their relevant THE pre-existing TEACHER conceptual IS A SHEPHERD. knowledge. THE As to TEACHER IS A CANDLE was estimated by the Chinese as a conventional and the metaphor apt metaphor, THE because TEACHER the source IS concept A CAPTAIN, CANDLE involves there were a pre-existing no obvious cultural metaphorical differences. meaning This of indicates self-sacrifice that and a metaphor unselfishness can in be the interpreted common by Chinese understanding. This metaphorical meaning of candle originates from the different people differently due to the differences of their relevant pre- well-known poem Untitled written by Li, Shangyin ( ). Lacking this existing background, conceptual the Germans knowledge. found it THE hard to TEACHER access this metaphorical IS A CANDLE meaning was estimated unless by it could the Chinese be imported as from a conventional a context. By and contrast, apt the metaphor, Germans regarded because the THE TEACHER IS A SHEPHERD as a conventional and apt metaphor. For source concept CANDLE involves a pre-existing metaphorical meaning of them, SHEPHERD means love and care because they all know Jesus is our self-sacrifice and unselfishness in the common Chinese understanding. shepherd from the Holy Bible. Since most of the Chinese are free from the influence of Christianity, it is hard for them to attain this metaphorical meaning of SHEPHERD. There were no big differences between the Chinese and the German affective impression and conceptual representation of the metaphor THE 37

16 DEHUI ZHOU & EDGAR HEINEKEN This metaphorical meaning of candle originates from the well-known poem Untitled written by Li, Shangyin ( ). Lacking this background, the Germans found it hard to access this metaphorical meaning unless it could be imported from a context. By contrast, the Germans regarded THE TEACHER IS A SHEPHERD as a conventional and apt metaphor. For them, SHEPHERD means love and care because they all know Jesus is our shepherd from the Holy Bible. Since most of the Chinese are free from the influence of Christianity, it is hard for them to attain this metaphorical meaning of SHEPHERD. There were no big differences between the Chinese and the German affective impression and conceptual representation of the metaphor THE TEACHER IS A CAPTAIN, because their preexisting conceptual knowledge of CAPTAIN is more or less similar. Another important finding is that context plays an important role in metaphor comprehension. The role play with the positive development encourages the congruence of the subjects understanding of the metaphor. The role play with the negative development causes more absurdities in understanding the metaphor. In all, this empirical study shows that the comprehension of a metaphor is related to the pre-existing conceptual knowledge of metaphor addressees, and the context, in which the metaphor appears. Discussion According to results of the empirical study, the meaning of a metaphor is not necessarily obvious and constant and the metaphor comprehension is not a static process, but a dynamic one. The dynamics of metaphor comprehension can be demonstrated in the following two aspects: 1) the understanding of a metaphor may vary from person to person, according to their relevant pre-existing conceptual knowledge; 2) even the same person may understand one metaphor differently in different contexts. In an appropriate context, novel metaphors can be learned. The dynamics of metaphor comprehension largely results from the complex dynamic systems of language, thinking, affect, physicality and culture, of which metaphor is a part: 38

17 THE USE OF METAPHORS IN ACADEMIC COMMUNICATION Metaphor ( ) has multiple interconnected dimensions: linguistic, cognitive, affective, physical and cultural ( ) All dimensions of metaphor are dynamic, i.e. they unfold continuously in real time. Metaphor, in all its manifestations, can then be seen as a part of the continuously changing and interconnected systems of language, thinking, affect, physicality and culture. (Cameron, 2006: para. 1) With the interconnected complex dynamic systems of language, thinking, affect, physicality and culture as its frameworks, metaphor is like a brilliant cut diamond, which has many attractive facets that manifest the best play of light: Some metaphors are only used within a special community to sustain intimacy for affective purpose; some other metaphors reflect the strong influence of the bodily experiences on our language and thinking; while yet other metaphors are culturally specific; so on and so forth. As a matter of fact, the inter-weaving of all those phenomena is reflected in the complexity of metaphor comprehension. In order to ensure the goal of creating and spreading knowledge, metaphor shall be used cautiously in academic communication to avoid unwanted misunderstanding and ambiguity. Conventional and apt metaphors are relatively safe to be used because a congruent understanding of the metaphorical meaning is easy to attain among most people. Nevertheless, most metaphors used in especially academic communication are novel metaphors or are at least used in an innovative way to communicate new knowledge or to provide a new perspective of seeing things (Stambuk, 1998). This makes it more important for metaphor users to provide their readers or audience sufficient background information in context to ensure the accessibility to that metaphorical meaning. In conclusion, the academic usage of metaphor is no longer a to-be-or-notto be question, as once puzzled rationalists and empiricists in the seventeenth century. When metaphors are used to conceptualize theoretical constructs or communicate new knowledge in academic communication, they should be carefully selected and presented in appropriate contexts so as to ensure that the addressees can easily derive the intended metaphorical meaning. Acknowledgements We are greatly indebted to Michael White and the other anonymous reviewer for their precious comments on the earlier version of this paper. We would 39

18 DEHUI ZHOU & EDGAR HEINEKEN also like to thank Holly Berg and Kevin Berg for improving the English language in this paper. (Revised paper received May 2009) References Batagelj, V. & A. Mrvar (2007). Pajek program for analysis and visualisation of large network Reference manual. URL: [30/06/07] Bowdle, B. & D. Gentner (2005). The career of metaphor. Psychological Review 112: Borgatti, S.P., M.G. Everett & L.C. Freeman (2002). Ucinet for Windows: Software for Social Network Analysis. Harvard, MA: Analytic Technologies. Bradley, M.M. & P.J. Lang (1994). Measuring emotion: the self-assessment manikin and the semantic differential. J Behav Ther Exp Psychiatry 25: Bullough, R.V., Jr. (1994). Beginning teacher curriculum decision making, personal teaching metaphors, and teacher education. Teaching and Teacher Education 8: Cameron, L. (2006). A discourse dynamics framework for metaphor. URL: [10/20/07] Carroll, J.M., R. Mack & W. Kellogg (1991). Interface metaphors and user interface design in M. Helander (ed.), Handbook of Human-Computer Interaction, Amsterdam: Elsevier Science Publishers. Chiappe, D.L., J.M. Kennedy & P. Chiappe (2003). Aptness is more important than comprehensibility in preference for metaphors and similes. Poetics 31: Coulson, S. & C. Van Petten (2002). Conceptual integration and metaphor: An event-related potential study. Memory and Cognition 30: Doreian, P., V. Batagelj & A. Ferligoj (2004). Generalized block modelling of two-mode network data. Social Networks 26: Draaisma, D. (1999). Die Metaphernmaschine: Eine Geschichte des Gedächtnisses. Darmstadt: Primus Verlag. Forceville, C. (1996). Pictorial Metaphor in Advertising. London: Routledge. Freeman, L.C. (1977). A set of measures of centrality based on betweeness. Sociometry 40: Gibbs, R. (1994). The politics of Mind. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Giora, R. (1997). Understanding figurative and literal language: The graded salience hypothesis. Cognitive Linguistics 7: Glucksberg, S. (1998). Understanding metaphors. Current Directions in Psychological Science 7: Grice, H. (1975). Logic and conversation in P. Cole & J. Morgan (eds.), Syntax and Semantics: Speech Acts, New York: Academic Press. Heineken, E., F.P. Schulte & H. Ollesch (2003). Experimentalpsychologische Ausbildung im virtuellen Labor: Das Laboratorium für Online- Research (Lab.OR) in Krampen, G. & H. Zayer (Hrsg.), Psychologiedidaktik und Evaluation IV, Bonn: Deutscher Psychologen Verlag. Hobbes, T. [1651] (1996). Leviathan. Edited by Richard Tuck. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Huber, A. (2005). Metaphorik und Handeln. Metaphorisches Priming am Beispiel der Vorgesetzten-Mitarbeiter-Kommunikation - eine experimentelle Untersuchung in virturellem Setting. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. University of Essen-Duisburg, Duisburg, Germany. Inns, D. (2002). Metaphor in the literature of organizational analysis: A preliminary taxonomy. Organization 9: Jones, L. & Z. Estes (2006). Roosters, robins, and alarm clocks: Aptness and conventionality in metaphor comprehension. Journal of Memory and Language 55: Keysar, B. (1989). On the functional equivalence of literal and metaphorical interpretations. Journal of Memory and Language 28:

19 THE USE OF METAPHORS IN ACADEMIC COMMUNICATION Lakoff, G. & M. Johnson (1980). Metaphors We Live by. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Lakoff, G. (1993). The contemporary theory of metaphor in A. Ortony (ed.), Metaphor and Thought, 2nd ed., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Lakoff, G. & M. Johnson (1999). Philosophy in the Flesh. The Embodied Mind and its challenge to western thought. New York: Basic Books. Lang, P. (1985). The cognitive psychophysiology of emotion: fear and anxiety in A. Tuma & I. Master (eds.), Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. Leydesdorff, L.(1997). Why words and co-words cannot map the development of the sciences. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 48, 5: Littlemore, J. (2001). The use of metaphor in university lectures and the problems that it causes for overseas students. Teaching in Higher Education 6: Miller, G. (1979). Images and models, similes and metaphors in A. Ortony (ed.), Metaphor and Thought, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Mio, J.S. (1997). Metaphor and politics. Metaphor and Symbolic Activity 12: Morgan, G. (1986). Images of Organization. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage. Morris, J.D. (1995). Observations SAM: The selfassessment manikin An efficient cross-cultural measurement of emotional response. Journal of Advertising Research 35/8: Morris, J.D. & M. Bradley (1994). Assessing affective reactions to emotion terms and television advertisements with (SAM) the Self-Assessment Manikin. Unpublished Working Paper. University of Florida, College of Journalism and Communication. Ornstein, M. (1928). Role of Scientific Societies in the Seventeenth Century. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Reprinted in 1963 by Archon books, London. Ortony, A. (1975). Why metaphors are necessary and not just nice. Educational Theory 25: Ortony, A. (1979). Metaphor: A multidimensional problem in A. Ortony (ed.), Metaphor and Thought, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Osgood, C., G. Suci & P. Tannenbaum (1957). The Measurement of Meaning. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. Richards, I.A. (1936). The Philosophy of Rhetoric. New York: Oxford University Press. Roediger, H.L. (1980). Memory metaphors in cognitive psychology. Memory and Cognition 8: Russell, J. & Mehrabian, A. (1977). Evidence for a three-factor theory of emotions. Journal of Research in Personality 11: Shannon, C.E. & W. Weaver (1949). The Mathematical Theory of Communication. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. Sternberg, R.J. (1995). In Search of the Human Mind. Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt. Stambuk, A. (1998). Metaphor in scientific communication. Meta 43: Tsoukas, H. (1993). Analogical reasoning and knowledge generation in organization Theory. Organization Studies 14: Dehui Zhou has just finished her PhD supervised by Prof. Dr. Heineken at the Department of Informatics and Cognitive science at the University Duisburg-Essen, Germany. Her doctoral research focuses on metaphor cognition and representation. Edgar Heineken is a full professor of general and experimental psychology at the Department of Informatics and Cognitive Science, University Duisburg-Essen, Germany. He is also a member of the board of the International Research Center for magnetic resonance in medicine and cognitive sciences (Erwin L. Hahn Institute for Magnetic Resonance Imaging) at the University Duisburg-Essen. 41

20 DEHUI ZHOU & EDGAR HEINEKEN NOTES 1 The URL address provided to the Chinese subjects was The URL address provided to the German subjects was 2 The English translations of the thirty-three features are: thoughtfulness, responsibility, intelligence, leadership, watchfulness, lightheartedness, delight, patience, plainness, enthusiasm, model, diligence, love, orientation, authority, influence, romance, helpfulness, unselfishness, experience, calmness, courage, quietness, justice, Strictness, self-sacrifice, optimism, friendliness, tolerance, trust, warmth, brightness, and care. 3 The analysis of the subjects s is not provided here, because the purpose of reporting the experiment in this article is to explore metaphor comprehension from the cognitive psychological perspective. In this sense, the examination of the affective impression and the conceptual representation of the three teacher metaphors are of the most interest here. 42

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