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Leveraging Large-Scale Automatic Metaphor Identification to Verify Claims About Metaphor Usage


Core Concepts
Direct objects of verbs used as metaphors tend to have lower degrees of concreteness, imageability, and familiarity, and metaphors are more likely to be used in emotional and subjective sentences.
Abstract
This study aimed to verify existing claims about metaphors by leveraging large-scale automatic metaphor identification. The key findings are: Concreteness, Imageability, and Familiarity of Objects: The direct objects of verbs used as metaphors tend to have lower degrees of concreteness, imageability, and familiarity compared to non-metaphorical usages. This supports the claims that the target domain in conceptual metaphors is less concrete, imageable, and familiar. Emotion and Subjectivity: Sentences with emotional polarity, especially positive polarity, show significantly higher metaphor usage rates than neutral sentences. This supports the claim that metaphors are more likely to be used in emotional sentences. Sentences with a first-person subject, which are more likely to express subjectivity, have significantly higher metaphor usage rates than sentences with a third-person subject. This supports the claim that metaphors are more likely to be used in sentences expressing subjective content. The study leveraged a large corpus of English sentences and applied an automatic metaphor identification model to analyze the properties of metaphorical and non-metaphorical examples. The findings provide empirical evidence to verify several existing claims about the nature of metaphors in language.
Stats
The direct objects in metaphorical examples have lower concreteness scores than those in non-metaphorical examples. Sentences with positive emotional polarity have a higher metaphor usage rate than neutral sentences. Sentences with a first-person subject have a higher metaphor usage rate than sentences with a third-person subject.
Quotes
"Metaphors can paint a richer and more detailed picture of our subjective experience than can be expressed by literal language." "Subjective emotional experience is the essence of emotion, and objective manifestations in behavior, body, or brain physiology are at best indirect indicators of these internal experiences."

Deeper Inquiries

How do the findings of this study on English metaphors compare to metaphor usage in other languages

The findings of this study on English metaphors may not directly translate to metaphor usage in other languages due to linguistic and cultural differences. Each language has its unique set of metaphors, influenced by cultural norms, historical events, and societal values. For example, metaphors in Japanese, Chinese, or Arabic may have different connotations and usage patterns compared to English metaphors. Additionally, the structure and syntax of languages vary, impacting how metaphors are constructed and understood. Therefore, while the study provides valuable insights into English metaphor usage, it is essential to conduct similar studies in other languages to draw comprehensive comparisons.

What other linguistic or cognitive factors, beyond concreteness, imageability, and familiarity, might influence the use of metaphors in language

Beyond concreteness, imageability, and familiarity, several other linguistic and cognitive factors can influence the use of metaphors in language. One crucial factor is context, as the meaning and interpretation of a metaphor heavily rely on the surrounding text or discourse. Pragmatic factors such as speaker intention, audience understanding, and communicative goals also play a significant role in metaphor usage. Additionally, cognitive processes like creativity, associative thinking, and conceptual blending contribute to the generation and comprehension of metaphors. Cultural influences, emotional states, and individual differences in cognitive styles further shape how metaphors are employed in language.

What are the potential implications of the relationship between metaphor usage and emotional/subjective content for fields like psychology, communication, or creative writing

The relationship between metaphor usage and emotional/subjective content has profound implications for various fields. In psychology, the use of metaphors in therapy can facilitate emotional expression, insight, and healing by providing a symbolic language to explore complex feelings and experiences. In communication, leveraging metaphors can enhance persuasion, engagement, and storytelling by appealing to emotions and creating vivid mental images. In creative writing, metaphors add depth, richness, and layers of meaning to literary works, allowing writers to convey abstract concepts in a tangible and evocative manner. Understanding the interplay between metaphors and emotional/subjective content can thus enhance therapeutic practices, communication strategies, and artistic expression.
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