Explore this map of 13 centuries' worth of English metaphors Someone who likes to show off is often referred to as a peacock. (Thinkstock)
Explore this map of 13 centuries' worth of English metaphors
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English is a language rich in metaphor - take for example the 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. But some metaphors are so ingrained in the language that speakers forget they are metaphors at all. For instance, to comprehend literally meant "to grasp" in Latin, reports Libby Brooks for The Guardian. Now, to fully appreciate the history of English metaphors, dive into the online Metaphor Map from researchers at the University of Glasgow.
 
Brooks explains that the three-year-long project is based on data from the university's Historical Thesaurus of English and includes words and phrases that have cropped up over 13 centuries. The visualization shows connections between different concepts. Brooks writes:
 
"For example, 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, onto another domain that is rather more abstract, in this case finance or perception, and thus benefits from metaphorical explanation."
 
Likewise, the phrase "cropped up" links the more concrete domain of plants to a more abstract ones of creation or occurrence.
 
For Hyperallergic, Allison Meier offers tips on how to explore the visualization and explains how far the project has yet to go. She writes:
 
"A quarter of the project's connections are online with plans for expansion, including 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. It's also recommended that you check out this page showing all the categories completed online with dates and information, and utilize the timeline view which makes it easier to pinpoint different eras."
 
The latest blog post, for example, explores the bird metaphors mentioned above in greater detail. The timeline view shows that linking light with knowledge (enlighten, for example) dates back to the late 1100s, and linking texture with a foolish person (a clod, a lump) started in the late 1500s.
 
The project is good for more than just curiosity, the principal investigator, Wendy Anderson, told The Guardian.
 
"This helps us to see how our language shapes our understanding - the connections we make between different areas of meaning in English show, to some extent, how we mentally structure our world," she says.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
How is the Online Metaphor map a metaphor?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (24)
  • erine-bag
    10/20/2015 - 11:44 p.m.

    This article about metophores talks about metophores relating to birds.
    1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10

  • julianc-bag
    10/31/2015 - 11:34 a.m.

    This is an interesting article and has lots of facts.

  • diegos-lam
    11/18/2015 - 10:41 a.m.

    Personally, I love how our Language is full of little twists and turns. Because of this I think that people speaking in English tend to be more pun-y, pun-ful? I don't know. That's not the point- the point is that our language is riddled with secrets, and is peculiar to say the least. So It would be interesting to see how this metaphor investigation uncovers most, if not all, the route of the maze that is our language.

  • khinmarwai-eri
    11/19/2015 - 02:38 a.m.

    The online metaphor is mapped a metaphor from researchers.

    • thuzarkyaw-eri
      11/19/2015 - 02:46 a.m.

      Yes, it's very fantastic one.

  • ohnmarhan-eri
    11/19/2015 - 02:43 a.m.

    This is very interesting article and our language , Myanmar,also has a lot of metaphors.

    • phyuphyukhine-eri
      11/19/2015 - 03:38 a.m.

      If we know mataphors, we will understand more and more.

  • thuzarkyaw-eri
    11/19/2015 - 02:44 a.m.

    Metaphor makes the stories or articles more interesting.

  • khinsandarwin-eri
    11/19/2015 - 02:59 a.m.

    An interesting one this article is. I have known more about English metaphors from reading this article. However, I had expected more details on the origin of metahors in English and types of metaphors. My mother tongue, Burmese, has a good tradition of metaphor as well.

    • phyuphyukhine-eri
      11/19/2015 - 03:19 a.m.

      Iagree with you,my dear. I would like know some more examples of mataphors in English.The more we know about mataphors,the more we understand about the certain language.

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