Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Intercultural Pragmatics

Editor-in-Chief: Kecskes, Istvan

5 Issues per year

IMPACT FACTOR 2017: 1.125
5-year IMPACT FACTOR: 1.154

CiteScore 2017: 1.25

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.719
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 1.417

See all formats and pricing
More options …
Volume 14, Issue 1


Deliberate Metaphor Theory: Basic assumptions, main tenets, urgent issues

Gerard Steen
Published Online: 2017-03-09 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ip-2017-0001


In response to two recent publications about Deliberate Metaphor Theory (DMT) in this journal, I argue that DMT advances metaphor studies into a period with new and exciting research challenges and possibilities for application between various disciplines. I will first spell out my basic assumptions about eleven core concepts in all verbal metaphor research. Then I will present the main tenets of DMT about the difference between deliberate and non-deliberate metaphor. Finally I will briefly discuss which urgent issues still need to be addressed.

Keywords: metaphor; Deliberate Metaphor Theory; intention; consciousness; attention


  • Beger, Anke. 2011. Deliberate metaphors? An exploration of the choice and functions of metaphors in US-American College lectures. Metaphorik.de 20. 39–60.Google Scholar

  • Biber, Douglas & Susan Conrad. 2009. Register, genre, and style. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Bougher, Lori. 2012. The case for metaphor in political reasoning and cognition. Political Psychology 33. 145–163.Google Scholar

  • Bowdle, Brian F. and Dedre Gentner. 2005. The career of metaphor. Psychological Review 112. 193–216.Google Scholar

  • Burgers, Christian, Britta Carmen Brugman, Kiki Y. Renardel de Lavalette & Gerard Steen. 2016. HIP: A method for linguistic hyperbole identification in discourse. Metaphor and Symbol 31. 163–178.Google Scholar

  • Butler, Chris. 2003. Structure and function: A guide to three major structural-functional theories. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar

  • Chafe, Wallace. 1994. Discourse, consciousness and time. Chicago: University of Chicago.Google Scholar

  • Clark, Herbert. 1996. Using language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Dehaene, Stanislas. 2014. Consciousness and the brain. New York: Viking.Google Scholar

  • Deignan, Alice, Jeanette Littlemore, and Elena Semino. 2013. Figurative language, genre and register. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Dorst, A.G. 2011. Metaphor in fiction: Language, thought and communication. Oisterwijk: Box Press.Google Scholar

  • Gentner, Dedre & Brian Bowdle. 2008. Metaphor as structure mapping. In R.W. Gibbs (ed.), The Cambridge handbook of metaphor and thought, 109–128. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Gibbs, Raymond. 1994. The poetics of mind: Figurative thought, language, and understanding. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Gibbs, Raymond. 1999. Intentions and the experience of meaning. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Gibbs, Raymond. 2006. Embodiment and cognitive science. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Gibbs, Raymond W. 2008. The Cambridge handbook of metaphor and thought. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Gibbs, Raymond. 2011a. Are deliberate metaphors really deliberate? A question of human consciousness and action. Metaphor and the Social World 1. 26–52.Google Scholar

  • Gibbs, Raymond. 2011b. Advancing the debate on deliberate metaphor. Metaphor and the Social World 1. 67–69.Google Scholar

  • Gibbs, Raymond. 2011c. Evaluating conceptual metaphor theory. Discourse Processes 48. 529–562.Google Scholar

  • Gibbs, Raymond. 2013. Metaphoric cognition as social activity: Dissolving the divide between metaphor in thought and communication. Metaphor and the Social World 3. 54–76.Google Scholar

  • Gibbs, Raymond. 2015a. Do pragmatic signals affect conventional metaphor understanding? A failed test of deliberate metaphor theory. Journal of Pragmatics 90. 77–87.Google Scholar

  • Gibbs, Raymond W. 2015b. Does deliberate metaphor theory have a future? Journal of Pragmatics 90. 73–76.Google Scholar

  • Gibbs, Raymond & Lynne Cameron. 2008. The social cognitive dynamics of metaphor performance. Cognitive Systems Research 9. 64–75.Google Scholar

  • Gibbs, Raymond W., Jr. & Elaine Chen. 2017. Taking metaphor studies back to the stone age: A reply to Xu, Zhang and Wu 2016. Intercultural Pragmatics 14. 117–124.

  • Giora, Rachel. 2008. Is metaphor unique? In Raymond W. Gibbs (ed.), The Cambridge handbook of metaphor and thought, 143–160. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Glucksberg, Sam. 2008. How metaphors create categories – quickly. In Raymond W. Gibbs (ed.), The Cambridge handbook of metaphor and thought, 67–83. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Graziano, Michael. 2013. Consciousness and the social brain. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Herrmann, Berenike. 2013. Metaphor in academic discourse. Linguistic forms, conceptual structures, communicative functions and cognitive representations, vol. 333. Utrecht: LOT Dissertation Series.Google Scholar

  • Kaal, Anna. 2012. Metaphor in conversation. Oisterwijk: Box Press.Google Scholar

  • Krennmayr, Tina. 2011. Metaphors in newspapers, vol. 276. Utrecht: LOT Dissertation Series.Google Scholar

  • Krennmayr, Tina, Brian Bowdle, Gerben Mulder & Gerard Steen. 2014. Building metaphorical schemas when reading text. Metaphor and the Social World 4. 65–89.Google Scholar

  • Krennmayr, Tina & Gerard Steen. In press. The VU Amsterdam metaphor corpus. In N. Ide & J. Pustejovsky (eds.), Handbook of linguistic annotation. Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar

  • Lai, Vicky T. & Tim Curran. 2013. ERP evidence for conceptual mappings and comparison processes during the comprehension of conventional and novel metaphors. Brain and Language 127. 484–496.Google Scholar

  • Lakoff, George & Mark Johnson. 1980. Metaphors we live by. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar

  • Lakoff, George & Mark Johnson. 1999. Philosophy in the flesh: The embodied mind and its challenge to western thought. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar

  • Langacker, Ronald. 1987. Foundations of cognitive grammar. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Levelt, Willem. 1989. Speaking. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar

  • McGlone, Matthew. 2007. What is the explanatory value of a conceptual metaphor? Language and Communication 27. 109–126.Google Scholar

  • McNamara, Daniele & Joe Magliano. 2009. Toward a comprehensive model of comprehension. In Ross, B. (ed.), The psychology of learning and motivation, Vol. 51, 297–384. Burlington, VT: Academic Press.Google Scholar

  • Musolf, Andreas. 2011. Migration, media and “deliberate” metaphors. Metaphorik.de 21. 7–25.Google Scholar

  • Musolff, Andreas. 2016. Cross-cultural variation in deliberate metaphor interpretation. Metaphor and the Social World 6. 205–224.Google Scholar

  • Nacey, Susan. 2013. Metaphors in learner English. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar

  • Ng Carl Jon Way & Veronika Koller. 2013. Deliberate conventional metaphor in images: The case of corporate branding discourse. Metaphor and Symbol 28. 131–147.Google Scholar

  • Ogden, C.K. & I.A. Richards. 1923. The meaning of meaning. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Ortony, Andrew (ed.). 1979/1993. Metaphor and thought, 2nd edn. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Pasma, Tryntje. 2011. Metaphor and register variation. The personalization of Dutch news discourse. Oisterwijk: Box Press.Google Scholar

  • Perrez, Julien & Min Reuchamps. 2014. Deliberate metaphors in political discourse: The case of citizen discourse. Metaphorik.de 25. 7–41.Google Scholar

  • Pragglejaz Group. 2007. MIP: A method for identifying metaphorically used words in discourse. Metaphor and Symbol 22. 1–39.Google Scholar

  • Read, S., I. Cesa, D. Jones & N. Collins. 1990. When is the federal budget like a baby? Metaphor in political rhetoric. Metaphor and Symbol 5. 125–149.Google Scholar

  • Reijnierse, Gudrun, Christian Burgers, Tina Krennmayr & Gerard Steen. 2015. In search of a framing effect. Metaphor and the Social World, special issue on ‘The political impact of metaphors’ 5. 245–263.Google Scholar

  • Reijnierse, Gudrun, Christian Burgers, Tina Krennmayr & Gerard Steen. Submitted a. DMIP: AS method for identifying potentially deliberate metaphor in language use.Google Scholar

  • Reijnierse, Gudrun, Christian Burgers, Tina Krennmayr & Gerard Steen. Submitted b. Metaphor in communication: The distribution of potentially deliberate metaphor across register and word class.

  • Šorm, Ester & Gerard Steen. 2013. Processing visual metaphor. Metaphor and the Social World 3. 1–34.Google Scholar

  • Sperber, Dan & Deirdre Wilson. 1995. Relevance: Communication and cognition. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar

  • Sperber, Dan & Deirdre Wilson. 2008. A deflationary account of metaphors. In Raymond W. Gibbs (ed.), The Cambridge handbook of metaphor and thought, 84–104. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Steen, Gerard, 1994. Understanding metaphor in literature: An empirical approach. London: Longman.Google Scholar

  • Steen, Gerard. 1999. From linguistic to conceptual metaphor in five steps. In Raymond W. Gibbs & Gerard Steen (eds.), Metaphor in cognitive linguistics, 57–78. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.Google Scholar

  • Steen, Gerard. 2005. Basic discourse acts: Towards a psychological theory of discourse segmentation. In Francisco Ruiz de Mendoza Ibanez & M. Sandra Pena Cervel (eds.), Cognitive linguistics: Internal dynamics and interdisciplinary interaction, 283–312. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar

  • Steen, Gerard. 2007. Finding metaphor in grammar and usage: A methodological analysis of theory and research. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar

  • Steen, Gerard. 2008. The paradox of metaphor: Why we need a three-dimensional model of metaphor. Metaphor & Symbol 23. 213–241.Google Scholar

  • Steen, Gerard. 2009. From linguistic form to conceptual structure in five steps: Analyzing metaphor in poetry. In Geert Brône & Jeroen Vandaele (eds.), Cognitive poetics: Goals, gains and gaps, 197–226. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar

  • Steen, Gerard. 2011a. What does ‘really deliberate’ really mean?: More thoughts on metaphor and consciousness. Metaphor & the Social World 1. 53–56.Google Scholar

  • Steen, Gerard. 2011b. From three dimensions to five steps: The value of deliberate metaphor. Metaphorik.de 21. 83–110.Google Scholar

  • Steen, Gerard. 2011c. Genre between the humanities and the sciences. In Marcus Callies, Wolfram R. Keller & Astrid Lohöfer (eds.), Bi-directionality in the cognitive sciences: Examining the interdisciplinary potential of cognitive approaches in linguistics and literary studies, 21–42. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.Google Scholar

  • Steen, Gerard. 2011d. The contemporary theory of metaphor – now new and improved! Review of Cognitive Linguistics 9. 26–64.Google Scholar

  • Steen, Gerard. 2013. Deliberate metaphor affords conscious metaphorical cognition. Journal of Cognitive Semiotics 5. 179–197.Google Scholar

  • Steen, Gerard. 2015. Developing, testing and interpreting Deliberate Metaphor Theory. Journal of Pragmatics 90. 67–72.Google Scholar

  • Steen, Gerard. 2016. Mixed metaphor is a question of deliberateness. In Raymond W. Gibbs (ed.), Mixing metaphor, 113–132. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar

  • Steen, Gerard. In press. Attention to metaphor: Where embodied cognition and social interaction can meet, but may not often do so. In B. Hampe (ed.), Embodied cognition and multimodal discourse. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Steen, Gerard, Christian Burgers & Gudrun Reijnierse. 2014. When do natural language metaphors influence reasoning? A follow-up study to Thibodeau and Boroditsky 2013. PLoS ONE. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0113536.Crossref

  • Steen, Gerard, A.G. Dorst, J.B. Herrmann, Anna Kaal, Tina Krennmayr & Tryntje Pasma. 2010a. A method for linguistic metaphor identification: From MIP to MIPVU. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar

  • Steen, Gerard, A.G. Dorst, J. Berenike Herrmann, Anna Kaal & Tina Krennmayr. 2010b. Metaphor in usage. Cognitive Linguistics 21. 765–796.Google Scholar

  • Stukker, Ninke, Wilbert Spooren & Gerard Steen (eds.). 2016. Genre in discourse and cognition: Concepts, models, methods. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar

  • Talmy, Leonard. 2000. Toward a cognitive semantics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar

  • Tendahl, Markus & Raymond Gibbs. 2008. Complementary perspectives on metaphor: Cognitive linguistics and relevance theory. Journal of Pragmatics 40. 1823–1864.Google Scholar

  • Xu, Cihua, Chuanrui Zhang & Wichen Wu. 2016. Enlarging the scope of metaphor studies. Intercultural Pragmatics 13. 439–447.Google Scholar

About the article

Gerard Steen

Gerard Steen is professor of Language and Communication at the University of Amsterdam. He previous held chairs in Language and Communication (2013–2014) and Language Use and Cognition (2007–2013) at VU University Amsterdam. He is the director of the Metaphor Lab Amsterdam and has published 20 monographs, edited books and special issues as well as over 120 articles and book chapters on metaphor and discourse analysis.

Published Online: 2017-03-09

Published in Print: 2017-03-01

Citation Information: Intercultural Pragmatics, Volume 14, Issue 1, Pages 1–24, ISSN (Online) 1613-365X, ISSN (Print) 1612-295X, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ip-2017-0001.

Export Citation

© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston.Get Permission

Citing Articles

Here you can find all Crossref-listed publications in which this article is cited. If you would like to receive automatic email messages as soon as this article is cited in other publications, simply activate the “Citation Alert” on the top of this page.

Sandra van der Hel, Iina Hellsten, and Gerard Steen
Environmental Communication, 2018, Page 1
Stephen J. Flusberg, Teenie Matlock, and Paul H. Thibodeau
Metaphor and Symbol, 2018, Volume 33, Number 1, Page 1
John Lawrence, Jacky Visser, and Chris Reed
Argument & Computation, 2017, Page 1

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in