What Are Metaphor Entailments?
Entailments and Correspondence Mappings
Correspondence Mappings of Entailments From Source to Target
Metaphors are often introduced through the use of figurative language (highlighted in italics). Once introduced, they bring with them not only a range of entailed attributes but also a durable, multi-faceted structure from which inferences will be made that influence subsequent thinking and expression. Let us recall and continue the example started earlier:
Mother says that Father "just doesn't see" certain things that the kids need or that may be dangerous. The mediator silently hypothesizes the metaphorUnderstanding the Kids is Seeing the Kids
Now Mom’s metaphor has some more detail: Understanding is Constructing a Picture. The source domain, Constructing a Picture, almost instantly brings to mind building construction and jigsaw puzzle entailments such as identifying pieces, finding where they fit in an overall design, attaching or putting them together. If we listen further to someone for whom this metaphor is operating we are likely to hear additional related entailments: "I can pick out the relevant stuff, but for him it doesn’t necessarily connect," "We don’t have the same image of what it’s supposed to look like," "When you know the kids’ plans for the day then you can support and reinforce them."
The illustrative phrases just given make sense to the degree that the elements of the target domain have a one-to-one correspondence with their counterparts in the source domain. The structure of the source domain of Seeing enables these entailments to make sense. Seeing is a process that humans have broad experience with and most of the language used to describe and think about Constructing a Picture can be applied to Knowing or Understanding. Note how these metaphoric correspondence patterns operate:
·The person knowing or understanding corresponds to the person constructing the picture.
·What is understood corresponds to the picture itself.
·The process of understanding something corresponds to the process of identifying and putting pieces of the picture in their appropriate places, side-by-side, overlaid, linked or attached as necessary to form a whole.
·Not understanding something corresponds to ignoring the pieces or putting them together wrongly.
·Vague or superficial understanding corresponds to assembling some pieces but not integrating them all together to form an integrated whole.
·Solid knowledge corresponds to pieces assembled on a firm foundation.
·Principled understanding corresponds to putting pieces together according to appropriate rules, codes or standards.
These are just some of the element-by-element correspondences between source and target domains for the example metaphor given. The reader might easily generate more, along with example sentences that would be relevant and sound like everyday English usage. While not always coming to mind immediately they make sense once introduced. And they make sense because one’s familiarity with the source domain has formed a largely unconscious structure ready to guide and constrain the thought processes, predisposing certain ideas and not others. Making the structure more conscious will bring the correspondences to mind more readily, giving the mediator additional ways to intervene.
Here is another example: "She’s invested in that point of view," Perspective is Economic Transaction:
The person taking a perspective corresponds to the person making an economic transaction.
The objects taken in by a perspective correspond to the things bought.
The advantages of the perspective correspond to the profit from the transaction.
Any distortions in the perspective correspond to any difficulties in the transaction.
Another example: "They battled over custody." Divorce Negotiation is War:
The two divorcing parents correspond to the two enemies in war.
Mutually exclusive arguments in divorce correspond to exclusivity of justifications in war.
Taking over the children corresponds to taking over territory.
The decision on custody corresponds to outcome of one of the battles of a war.
Prejudicing the children against the other parent corresponds to war propaganda.
Suffering of the children corresponds to damage to territory fought over in war.
Awareness of Correspondence Mappings - Tracing Patterns of Meaning
The mediator desiring to explore metaphoric correspondences might first want to consider how different are the metaphors used by the disputants, whether they are readily understood (even though not shared) by each party, or whether instead the different metaphors evoke what Schön and Rein (1994) refer to as frame conflict. Frame conflict results in incommensurate normative expectations. Schön points out that frame conflict makes negotiations incommensurate when the normative expectation of disputants’ metaphors are divergent - when the direction of the presumed resolution of the problems are conceived in entirely different terms.
Where the metaphors are different but nevertheless likely to be readily understood, the mediator might allude to the source domain elements that are mapped to the target domain and frame comments or questions to each disputant using the metaphoric language of the other. Here are examples (based on the first set of correspondences give above) of such questions the mediator might ask:
q(To Father, exploring his general familiarity with her metaphor) "Can we sometimes be blind to things right in front of us?"
q(To Mother, talking about degree or manner of putting it together) "Do you think he may have some understanding - put some pieces together - but not as in depth or as solidly as he could?"
In contrast, where the metaphors have incommensurate elements the disputants each may tend not to notice the metaphoric language of the other or regard it as irrelevant. In this instance we may follow the suggestions of Schön and Rein to encourage dialogue free of abstract or metaphoric terminology (which allows disputants to re-immerse themselves in more concrete, information-rich descriptions of the dispute) or what they call "frame-reflective conversation" (that highlights the disputants’ metaphoric language and encourages them to reflect on its use and explore alternatives). Here is a possible progression of interventions:
qAsk disputants to tell their stories in terms of the concrete, information-rich experiences of events over a period of time relevant to the problem or dispute; avoid customary categories (to suspend frames and resist forming new ones).
qWork with disputants to identify any new features that become apparent from the previous step; regroup, reorder these in terms of each other; rename them in terms of their functions.
qBy naming or otherwise highlighting the images, language or concepts that indicate certain frames or generative metaphors, help disputants to recognize them and note how they operate to project certain meanings. Ask each of them questions that will help them reflect on the frames these metaphors create. Then ask them to think outside of these frames.
q[As necessary when disputants speak concretely [but not metaphorically], ask them to say what concept or principle this is an example of, so that they think more abstractly and are better able to identify the culturally engrained concept [note that cultural metaphors may be abstract, while bodily metaphors are more concrete].
qOne might use simile (like… as…) or analogical parallelism (call out the correspondences… if-then logic… parallel patterns): "Are your kids following a path that takes them through a jungle?" "How do you help a child with an internal struggle by giving them external direction?" "If the struggle is inside can they then be paying much attention to the external goals?" "How are jungle animals like obstacles on the path?" "
qNow identify old and new metaphors and note that metaphors often imply a normative expectation (inference pattern)… that certain normative action must be taken (e.g., if children are in a jungle they must be helped to protect themselves vs. if they are on a journey they need a map and guide) while other actions (from another metaphor) is incompatible or irrelevant. The mediator can attempt to include the generic structure of one into the other (e.g., force dynamics vs. disorderly field of subtle effects; "What is the best and the worst outcome of being in that jungle?")]
Once the correspondence mappings become conscious they can be re-directed or changed. Yet changing one or two may not re-direct the overall thrust of the metaphor. These metaphoric correspondences are integral parts of a whole not easily manipulated piecemeal, unless you have access to certain key aspects. To aid in understanding what may be the key aspects let us look more closely at how the metaphor we use to understand a situation can influence our inferences and conclusions.
With Entailments, Now Look For Correspondences
Practice With ExampleSAMPLE DIALOGUE #1
SAMPLE DIALOGUE #2
Step1: Identify metaphoric language or other indication of metaphor; highlight the language or idea.
Step 2: Identify Source Domain and Target Domain. Name, in words that come easily, the Target and Source Domains.
Step 3: Name the metaphor using shorthand terminology.
Step 4: List entailments (attributes) of Source Domain (what does reflection on the Source Domain bring to mind, any images, patterns, processes? Modifiers, qualities, correlations, roots, patterns?).
Step 5: The elements of the source domain tend to have a one-to-one correspondence with their counterparts in the target domain. For each of the entailments, name the element of the Target Domain that corresponds to it -- "Entailment or element ___ in the Source Domain corresponds to ___ in the Target Domain."
Here are some things to try to bootstrap understanding of particular correspondence mappings:
(This is where familiarity with common conventional metaphors helps recall entailments so you can look for correspondences.)
Chunk to less/more inclusive categories,
Pair with person nearby.
Again, take your statement written down at beginning...
Review the name of the metaphor
Identify the following in each statement:
Pair with person nearby.
"Just put your cards on the table."
Review the name of the metaphor.
Respond using language from same metaphor.
Alternative response using other terms consistent with same metaphor.