The conceptual domains that are used in visual and verbal metaphors will be analyzed across three spaces through a tripartite new approach, called the Network Approach. This method aims at identifying and highlighting semi-automatically the overlapping features (called mappings) between concepts involved in visual metaphors, and contrasting them with those that characterize verbal metaphors.

The basic idea is that a fairly rich approximation of our knowledge about a given concept can be achieved by observing the components of meaning that pertain that concept, retrieved from: mental simulations (internal representations); external world (external perception), and language (linguistic use). In this perspective, unprecedented large-scale semi-automated data analyses will be conducted on three electronic databases, which contain information regarding, respectively:

  • how concepts appear in mental simulations in our mind;
  • how do we process them in experiential contexts;
  • how we use them in language.

Such analyses will bring to light, within each of the three specific databases of semantic information, the common associations and the overlapping properties (mappings) that emerge from the alignment of two concepts (the target and the source) in visual and in verbal metaphors.

The outcomes of this project will have therefore an impact on both the fields of metaphor studies and cognitive science. The interdisciplinary aspects of this project pertain the method pitched for its development, which brings together the following disciplines: experimental psychology, computational linguistics, and cognitive linguistics.


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