Explore this map of 13 centuries' worth of English metaphors
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English is a language with a lot of metaphors. One example is the use of birds. There are many ways that human behavior can be linked with birds. Someone who is fearful is a chicken. A show-off can be called a peacock. And a prideful person can be said to preen.
Some metaphors are rooted in the language. Speakers forget they are metaphors at all.
One example of that was the word comprehend. It literally meant "to grasp" in Latin. So reports Libby Brooks for The Guardian.
Here is your chance to fully grasp the history of English metaphors. Dive into this online Metaphor Map. It was made by researchers at the University of Glasgow. That is in Scotland.
The project took three years. Brooks said it is based on data from the university's Historical Thesaurus of English.
It also has words and phrases that have cropped up over 13 centuries. The image shows connections between different ideas. Brooks explains:
One example, "is when we describe a 'healthy economy' or a 'clear argument.' We are mapping from one domain of experience that is quite concrete. Such as medicine or sight. We map onto another domain that is rather more abstract. In this case, finance or perception. And thus benefits from metaphorical explanation."
Consider the phrase "cropped up." It links the more concrete domain of plants to the more abstract one of creation or occurrence.
For Hyperallergic, Allison Meier offers tips on how to explore the map. And she explains how far the project has to go. She explains:
"A quarter of the project's connections are online with plans for expansion. They include an Old English map. It takes a bit of experimenting with the map to explore its tiered navigation. And the university posted a how-to video as an introduction."
The latest blog post explores the bird metaphors. They were mentioned above in greater detail.
The timeline view shows that linking light with knowledge dates back to the late 1100s. One example of that is the word enlighten.
And linking texture with a foolish person? Think clod or a lump. That started in the late 1500s.
The project is good for more than just curiosity. That is what the principal investigator, Wendy Anderson told The Guardian. It is a newspaper.
"This helps us to see how our language shapes our understanding. The connections we make between different areas of meaning in English show how we mentally structure our world," she says.
CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
How is the Online Metaphor map a metaphor?
Write your answers in the comments section below