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Metaphor & the Social World

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Metaphor, American national characteristics, Polarization (Social sciences) -- United States -- 21st century, United States -- Political culture, Right and left (Political science)


As part of an on-going project to apply metaphor analysis to understanding the cultural polarization that has recently obstructed discourse about political and cultural issues in both the United States and Europe, this essay examines the lexical, grammatical, and story metaphors in a recent editorial column, by conservative columnist Ross Douthat, that also focuses on this topic. In a key section of the essay, Douthat uses a blend of complex grammatical and lexical metaphors to highlight the contrast between the traditional American identity narrative of settlement and conquest and a recently emerged liberal counter-narrative, which Douthat epitomizes by quoting former President Obama’s repeated insistence that “That’s not who we are.” Douthat’s argument is contextualized by the reproduction of an image with the title “Engraving of a massacre of Indian women and children in Idaho by 19th century white settlers,” which strengthens the contrasts and implied ironies embedded in his complex combination of grammatical and lexical metaphors. These relationships are brought into sharp focus through the metaphor-led analysis of the text and its interaction with the image, demonstrating the value of this approach to discourse analysis.


© John Benjamins Publishing Company.


This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Metaphor & the Social World. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published.



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