Metaphors and Metonymy in Politics. Selected Aspects.

By Paweł Zieliński


This work is devoted to metaphor and metonymy, as researched and discussed in cognitive linguistics. The poetic function of metaphor is of now interest, however a connection can be made between the two. Metaphor has been an object of discussion since the 1980s, where serious consideration of it started with the publishing of Lakoff's and Johnson's work called Metaphors We Live By. Not since the times of Aristotle have metaphors been discussed in a new light as in this work. The most important idea mentioned by the two authors is that metaphors are a matter of not only language, but of thought as well. More on this idea can be found in later chapters of this work.

The title of this paper is Metaphors and Metonymy in Politics. The main aim is to show how politicians discuss topics when talking to people who agree with them, and how to people who do not support their views. Regardless of the worldview, however, politicians, are people who work together and they just happen to have different views on different matters. Exactly how they express them is the main focus of this work. In order to understand this question better, one needs to look first at how politicians talk to their voters i.e. people whose votes they are sure of, and how do they talk to people from the opposite camp of the political spectrum. To put the question in more on topic terms, I want to describe the metaphors which drive the speeches made by politicians, and how it is, that some voters switch their sympathy to a totally different side every four years. The best ground for this question are the Presidential elections in the United States of America. Owing to a specific system in which they choose their Presidents, where each party has a pre-election (the so called Primary) during which they choose the candidate for the whole party to compete in the general election, it seems like an ideal environment for finding the answer to the question put forth in this paper. The closest elections at the time of writing were the 2008 American Presidential elections. Many different topics were discussed during them, but I have narrowed them down to the ones concerning foreign policy, domestic policy (economy etc), and the military. There is a strong division in the United States between the Conservative and the Liberal political movements, which greatly shows every time the country needs to vote for their government.

In chapter 1 the main ideas concerning the theory of metaphor are discussed. Works start with Lakoff and Johnson, and continue through books by other linguists. The theoretical part is to show the significance of metaphors, and show how the base for this paper was formed. Chapter 2 is devoted to the practical aspect of metaphors. That is, examples from political debates are discussed, categorized according to the topic. Chapter 2 is also divided into parts. The first one deals with Republicans, the Second with the Democrats and the third deals with the clash of the two political sides. Chapter 3 discusses metonymy. In it, the examples provided are taken from both, political speeches, and newspaper articles.

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