First Advisor

Susan B. Poulsen

Term of Graduation

Spring 1997

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Speech Communication


Speech Communication




Landmark Education Corporation; Language and languages -- Philosophy; Thought and thinking; Knowledge, Sociology of; Metaphor



Physical Description

1 online resource, (264p.)


Metaphor allows us to understand and experience "relatively abstract or unstructured subject matter in terms of more concrete, or at least m~re highly structured subject matter" (Lakotf, 1993, p. 245). Lakoff and Johnson's (1980) and Lakoffs (1993) contemporary theory of metaphor contends that: metaphor is fundamentally conceptual; metaphoric structuring is the basis for the organization and functioning of much of the ordinary human conceptual system; and metaphorical language found in everyday speech is a surface manifestation of underlying conceptual metaphors. The metaphors most salient in a culture's discourse will reveal something about what is thinkable, knowable, and doable in that culture (Deetz, 1984). Metaphors have the power to create a perceptual shift, making possible new ways of thinking and acting that could create and be experienced as a paradigm-shift or transformation (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980; Sackmann, 1989).

The present study investigated the intersection of transformation and culture using metaphor analysis to reveal and examine metaphors associated with Landmark Education Corporation (LEC). LEC is a training and development organization whose courses appear to be the catalyst for an experience of "transformation" and empowerment, as well as the core of a unique community of speakers.

"Texts" for the abstraction and interpretation of metaphors consisted of five in-depth interviews with LEC participants, participant notes from eight LEC courses, organizational artifacts, and field notes.

Interpretation and comprehension of emerging metaphors required a detailed explication ofLEC's worldview, lending support to the idea that metaphors are indeed manifestations of how a culture thinks (Deetz, 1984). Analysis revealed a triad of root-metaphors (LIFE IS EMPTY AND MEANINGLESS, HUMAN BEINGS ARE MEANING-MAKING MACHINES, and LIFE IS A CONVERSATION) and four sub-systems of metaphors structuring: ( 1) language and conversation; (2) human "being"; (3) transformation; and (4) spatio-temporal relationships and values.

LEC's metaphoric system emphasizes "conversation" as creation, frames all modes of human "being" as products of this creation, and appears to facilitate empowerment by locating power within the individual and the individual within community. This study especially furthered understanding of the cultural embeddedness of metaphor and issues of cross-cultural interpretation.


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