Primary metaphor

Primary metaphor

Primary metaphor is a term named by Joseph Grady for the basic connection that exist between vague experiences such as "good" and concrete experiences such as "up". These two concepts usually correlate in experience, and form the primary metaphor "good is up". Likewise there is a correlation between "seeing" and "knowing" forming the primary metaphor "seeing is knowing".

Two such primary metaphors are used when understanding an expression such as "glass ceiling". Since movement upwards is hindered by an object that can't be seen, the metaphor can be used to describe discrimination against women and ethnic minorities in companies and other institutions.

An example of a primary metaphor could be that of Shakespeare's 'As You Like It', where life is depicted as being similar to a theater. Therefore, 'LIFE' relates to a conceptual experience, and 'THEATER' represents a concrete experience. Thus forming the primary metaphor; LIFE IS THEATER.


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