Conceptual Metaphor -- From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
In cognitive linguistics, conceptual metaphor, or cognitive metaphor, refers to
the understanding of one idea, or conceptual domain, in terms of another.
An example of this is the understanding of quantity in terms of directionality ("The price of peace is rising.")
or the understanding of time in terms of money ("I spent time at work today").
NOTE: There are many ways to organize conceptual metaphors into groups.
Below are groupings which I feel are exceptionally useful for understanding phrasal verbs.
These groups are, at present, found in the Macmillan Dictionary.
They were originally created and used in an article by Dr. Rosamund Moon.
I have also exceprted some paragraphs from that article.
"The meanings of phrasal verbs are often difficult to remember, because they seem to have no connection
with the words that they consist of (the verb and the particle). In fact many phrasal verbs are metaphorical,
and if you understand the metaphors they use, it will be easier to understand and remember their meanings.
This article looks at ways in which different phrasal verbs share similar metaphors."
Sets of Metaphors
Increasing and decreasing: down, out, up
Excitement, interest, and happiness: down, up
Ending: away, down, off, out
Time – past and future: ahead, back, behind, forward
Progress: ahead, along, behind, on, through
Getting involved in an activity: away, in, into, out
Problems: around, aside, off, over, round
Power and weakness: down, over, under, up
Relationships: apart, off, together, up
Communication: across, between, forth, in, into, out, over, through
Information and knowledge: into, out, up
1 Increasing and decreasing: down, out, up
Up expresses ideas of increases in size, strength, or importance,
while down expresses ideas of something becoming smaller, weaker, or less important:
Fees have gone up again.
She's doing some teaching in the evenings to bump up her income.
The search operation has been scaled down.
The government played down the threat to public health.
Out expresses ideas of something becoming wider or fuller,
covering a greater extent, or lasting for a longer time:
Officers fanned out across the field.
Her stories flesh out the world in which these historical characters lived.
They had to string things out until the Duke arrived.
2 Excitement, interest, and happiness: down, up
Some phrasal verbs with up refer to things becoming more exciting, lively, or interesting,
or to people becoming happier.
Phrasal verbs with down refer to things becoming quieter or calmer, or to people becoming more unhappy.
Things are looking up.
Their opponents said that they sexed up the report.
This place needs livening up.
You need to tone down your argument.
The endless wet weather was getting me down.
3 Completeness: up
Up expresses an idea of completeness. For example, to burn up means to burn completely,
and to wind something up means to bring it to a complete end.
They gobbled up their dinner.
Don't use up all the paper.
The speaker had begun to sum up.
All the shops had closed up for the night.
4 Ending: away, down, off, out
When something ends, we can think of it as gradually going farther away until it completely disappears.
In phrasal verbs, away, down, off, and out all express ideas of something gradually ending:
Her voice faded away.
I suddenly felt sorry for him and my anger melted away.
The wind died down during the night.
The meeting wound down.
The rain eased off.
The effects of the drug wore off.
The conversation soon petered out.
The custom has almost died out.
5 Time – past and future: ahead, back, behind, forward
Metaphors relating to time are often based on the idea that time is like a line that goes
from the past to the future, with the past behind us and the future in front of us.
Phrasal verbs with ahead and forward express ideas of the future,
while phrasal verbs with back and behind express ideas of the past.
What lies ahead?
Let's think ahead to next season.
I'm looking forward to seeing them again.
I've put my watch forward one hour.
The house dates back to the 16th century.
Never look back, never have regrets.
She was trying to leave behind a difficult adolescence.
Put the whole episode behind you.
6 Progress: ahead, along, behind, on, through
Making progress and achieving things is like being on a journey and moving towards your destination.
Phrasal verbs with along describe the kind of progress that is being made,
while phrasal verbs with ahead and behind express ideas of making good progress or poor progress.
The building work was coming along nicely.
They're content to just muddle along.