This paper is an attempt to make a comparison between Lakoff and Johnson’s conceptual metaphor theory and Chomsky’s transformational generative grammar, and to demonstrate a Chomskyan postulation in the former. Although Lakoff and Johnson regard Chomsky’s linguistics as a modern representative of traditional Western philosophies of language that tend to highlight the a priori assumptions rather than empirical findings, the cognitive theory of metaphor contains a Chomskyan metaphysical assumption as its most important notion, i.e. the assumption of conceptual metaphors. Thus, what the present paper wants to argue with ample evidence is that Lakoff and Johnson’s conceptual metaphor theory resembles Chomsky’s logic and that their notion of conceptual metaphors is very much a Chomskyan postulation. What the present study tries to further demonstrate is that the abovementioned two theories actually have many points in common, which also implies that Lakoff and Johnson have failed to avoid the paradigm that they believe is conflicting with their own.
Funding source: the Shandong Social Sciences Planned Research Project entitled “A Study of Umberto Eco’s Metaphor Theory”
Award Identifier / Grant number: 18CWZJ51
Research funding: This paper is a research outcome of the Shandong Social Sciences Planned Research Project entitled “A Study of Umberto Eco’s Metaphor Theory” (grant number: 18CWZJ51).
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