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Metaphor and the Social World

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Metaphor, Metaphor -- Interpretation


Drawing on a song by Romanian blues rock singer and satirist Alexandru Andrieș, Transport în comun, we argue that both listeners and metaphor researchers must sometimes assume that a metaphor has been deliberately used and transformed in order to make sense of a metaphorical story, particularly when the metaphor is embedded in a particular cultural and political context. On the face of it Transport în comun is a song about seeking love, but it opens with a decidedly unromantic metaphor, “women are buses,” then develops this song into a story that is intelligible only on the assumption that the songwriter / singer has selected and developed the metaphor deliberately. We further argue that Andrieș’s known history of writing cleverly satirical songs during the Communist Romania, plus widely-shared experiences with public transportation in large cities, provides a firm basis for the further assumption that Andrieș also deliberately developed the song as a political and social metaphor. We agree with Gibbs (2011) that it is not possible to determine from the text alone whether a particular metaphor was used deliberately. However, we argue that the larger context in which a metaphor appears often provides evidence of deliberateness that is too strong to ignore. We aim to demonstrate that understanding and appreciating this song requires that the listener make the assumption that the metaphor was deliberately chosen and elaborated, and that most of the song’s meaning is lost without this assumption.


© 2015 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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