“(A)symmetry in metaphor: the importance of extended context.” Poetics Today, 16: 677-708.
Abstract: A crucial aspect of the investigation of any metaphor is the assessment which of its two terms is the tenor and which the vehicle. This issue is less uncontroversial than is often thought. The present paper discusses three related aspects of the matter. In the first place, Black’s (1962, 1979) interaction theory is shown not to support the bidirectionality of feature transfer or even the reversibility of terms, as is sometimes claimed (e.g., by Hausman 1989 and Lakoff & Turner 1989). Secondly, three experimental studies analyzing what principles guide the distribution of tenor and vehicle (Malgady & Johnson 1980; Verbrugge 1980; and Connor & Kogan 1980) are criticized for ignoring context-levels beyond the sentence. Thirdly, whereas the overall stance taken in this paper is that the projection of features in a metaphor is only from vehicle upon tenor, and not vice versa, there appear to be exceptions to this principle. Four examples are discussed in some detail and an attempt is made to account for them.