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Metaphors in educational texts: A case study on history and chemistry teaching material

  • Juliana Goschler EMAIL logo


It is by now a long established fact that academic and educational discourse (as any other kind of discourse) is full of metaphorical language. On the one hand, metaphors are part of educational discourse because of embodied metaphorical conceptualizations and therefore highly conventionalized and unconsciously used linguistic patterns (such as orientational metaphors like MORE IS UP or ontological metaphors like personifications), but on the other hand metaphors can also be used as a conscious teaching strategy in order to structure abstract things in terms of more concrete domains that are closer to direct experiences.

In my paper, I will show that certain subjects in school are characterized by educational texts using highly conventionalized metaphors that are most likely not even recognized as such, whereas in others metaphorical language is less frequent and much less evenly distributed among the text. Based on the analysis of educational texts from history and chemistry text books for schools, I will show that these different distribution patterns of metaphorical language in texts point to systematic differences styles of thinking and teaching in the humanities and the sciences.


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Published Online: 2019-11-12
Published in Print: 2019-11-26

©2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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