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The Contemporary Theory of Metaphor George Lakoff (c) Copyright George Lakoff, 1992

To Appear in Ortony, Andrew (ed.) Metaphor and Thought (2nd edition), Cambridge University Press.

Do not go gentle into that good night. -Dylan Thomas

Death is the mother of beauty . . . -Wallace Stevens, Sunday Morning

Introduction
These famous lines by Thomas and Stevens are examples of what classical theorists, at least since Aristotle, have referred to as metaphor: instances of novel poetic language in which words like mother, go, and night are not used in their normal everyday senses. In classical theories of language, metaphor was seen as a matter of language not thought. Metaphorical expressions were assumed to be mutually exclusive with the realm of ordinary everyday language: everyday language had no metaphor, and metaphor used mechanisms outside the realm of everyday conventional language. The classical theory was taken so much for granted over the centuries that many people didn’t realize that it was just a theory. The theory was not merely taken to be true, but came to be taken as definitional. The word metaphor was defined as a novel or poetic linguistic expression where one or more words for a concept are used outside of its normal conventional meaning to express a similar concept. But such issues are not matters for definitions; they are empirical questions. As a cognitive scientist and a linguist,

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