Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Metaphors We Learn Languages By?

If the argument in Lakoff and Johnson's Metaphors We Live By is correct -- and it seems to me that their basic thesis, that the substance of language and thought is metaphorical in nature, has plenty of evidence and is hard to deny -- then could this knowledge be usefully applied to language learning, if it is not already?

If a large part of learning a language involves learning the metaphors used to express various concepts, then perhaps it would be profitable to more explicitly focus on teaching these metaphors. This is particularly because, as Lakoff and Johnson show, many metaphors are used and related in a systematic and comprehensible way. Understanding these details could be useful in making the language learning less rote and more grounded in understanding, which helps in reataining and applying knowledge.

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