Metaphors, Culture, and the Classroom

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Brian Birdsell, Hirosaki University

In the past 30 years the contemporary theory of metaphor in cognitive linguistics has begun to alter the view of metaphor from being simply a part of language to being an important part of human thought. In this paper I briefly cover the historical development of this theory and some of its important principles. I then explore how cultures vary in their use of metaphors and provide some examples in Japanese and English. Then I address some practical applications of bringing this theory of metaphor into the classroom by reviewing past studies that focused on metaphor awareness-raising activities in order to familiarize students with the metaphorical nature of the target language. New ways to use pictorial metaphors to get learners to critically discuss the evaluative function of metaphors and become more aware of their conceptual nature are also presented.