A marriage of convenience or an amicable divorce: Metaphorical blends in the debates on Brexit

Open access


The paper investigates the interaction of conceptual blending and conceptual metaphor in producing figurative creativity in discourse. The phenomenon of figurative creativity is defined by Kövecses (2005) as creativity arising through the cognitive mechanisms of metonymy, metaphor, and blending. Specifically, the paper examines the use of creative figurative language in the British public discourse on the topic on Brexit. The aim of this paper is to show that conventional metaphors can be creatively stretched through conceptual blending, producing instances of creative figurative language. Specifically, applying blending theory, we will analyse innovative conceptual blends, motivated by the conventional marriage/divorce metaphor. In addition, the paper also examines the way in which creative figurative language produced in metaphorical blends provides discourse coherence at intertextual and intratextual levels.

Brandt, Line, Per Aage Brandt (2005). Making sense of a blend. A cognitive-semiotic approach to metaphor. Annual Review of Cognitive Linguistics 3: 216-249.

Chaban, Natalia, Jessica Bain, Katrina Stats (2007). Under construction: Images of the enlarging EU in the Australasian news media. Critical Approaches to Discourse Analysis across Disciplines 1(2): 79-95.

Coulson, Seana (1996). The Menendez brothers virus: Analogical mapping in blended spaces. Goldberg, Adele, ed. Conceptual Structure, Discourse, and Language. Stanford: CSLI, 67-81.

Coulson, Seana, Todd Oakley (2000). Blending basics. Cognitive Linguistics 11(3-4): 175-196.

Coulson, Seana, Cristobal Pagán Cánovas (2013). Understanding timelines: Conceptual metaphor and conceptual integration. Journal of Cognitive Semiotics 5(1-2): 198-219.

Đurović, Tatjana, Nadežda Silaški (2018). The end of a long and fraught marriage: Metaphorical images structuring the Brexit discourse. Metaphor and the Social World 8(1): 25-39.

Gibbs, Raymond (2000). Making good psychology out of blending theory. Cognitive Linguistics 11(3-4): 347-358.

Grady, Joseph, Todd Oakley, Seana Coulson (1999). Conceptual blending and metaphor. Gibbs, Raymond, Gerard Steen eds. Metaphor in Cognitive Linguistics. Amsterdam – Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 101-124.

Fauconnier, Gilles (1985). Mental Spaces. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.

Fauconnier, Gilles (2009). Generalized integration networks. Evans, Vyvyan, Stéphanie Pourcel, eds. New Directions in Cognitive Linguistics. Amsterdam – Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 147-160.

Fauconnier, Gilles, Mark Turner (2000). Compression and global insight. Cognitive Linguistics 11(3-4): 283-304.

Fauconnier, Gilles, Mark Turner (2001). Conceptual integration networks. Extended version of “Conceptual integration networks.” 1998. Cognitive Science 22(2): 133-187, available at <www.markturner.org/cin.web/cin.html>

Fauconnier, Gilles, Mark Turner (2002). The Way We Think: Conceptual Blending and the Mind’s Hidden Complexities. New York: Basic Books.

Fauconnier, Gilles, Mark Turner (2006). Conceptual integration networks. Geeraerts, Dirk, ed. Cognitive Linguistics: Basic Readings. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 303-371. Reprint of “Conceptual integration networks.” 1998. Cognitive Science 22(2): 133-187.

Fauconnier, Gilles, Mark Turner (2008). Rethinking metaphor. Gibbs, Raymond, ed. The Cambridge Handbook of Metaphor and Thought. New York: Cambridge University Press, 53-66.

Koller, Veronika (2004a). Metaphor and Gender in Business Media Discourse: A Critical Cognitive Study. Basingstoke – New York: Palgrave.

Koller, Veronika (2004b). Businesswomen and war metaphors: “Possessive, jealous and pugnacious”? Journal of Sociolinguistics 8(1): 3–23.

Kövecses, Zoltán (2002). Metaphor: A Practical Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press.

Kövecses, Zoltán (2005). Metaphor in Culture. Universality and Variation. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Kövecses, Zoltán (2008). Conceptual metaphor theory. Some criticisms and alternative proposals. Annual Review of Cognitive Linguistics 6: 168–184.

Kövecses, Zoltán (2009a). Metaphor, culture, and discourse: The pressure of coherence. Zinken, Jörg, Andreas Musolff, eds. Metaphor and Discourse. Basingstoke: Palgrave – Macmillan, 11-24.

Kövecses, Zoltán (2009b). The effect of context on the use of metaphor in discourse. Ibérica 17: 11–24.

Kövecses, Zoltán (2009c). Aspects of metaphor in discourse. Belgrade English Language and Literature Studies (Belgrade BELLS) 1: 81–95.

Kövecses, Zoltán (2010a). Metaphor: A Practical Introduction. (2nd ed). New York: Oxford University Press.

Kövecses, Zoltán (2010b). A new look at metaphorical creativity in cognitive linguistics. Cognitive Linguistics 21(4): 663–697.

Kövecses, Zoltán (2011). Recent developments in metaphor theory: Are the new views rival ones? Gonzálvez-García, Francisco, María Sandra Peña Cervel, Lorena Pérez Hernández, eds. Metaphor and metonymy revisited beyond the Contemporary Theory of Metaphor: Recent developments and applications, Special issue of Review of Cognitive Linguistics 9(1): 11–25.

Kövecses, Zoltán (2015). Where Metaphors Come From: Reconsidering Context in Metaphor. New York: Oxford University Press.

Kövecses, Zoltán (2017). Levels of metaphor. Cognitive Linguistics 28(2): 321–347.

Lakoff, George (1987). Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things. What Categories Reveal about the Mind. Chicago – London: University of Chicago Press.

Lakoff, George (1993). The contemporary theory of metaphor. Ortony, Andrew, ed. Metaphor and Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 202-251.

Lakoff, George (1996). Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Lakoff, George (2016). Understanding Trump. Available at: https://georgelakoff.com/2016/07/23/understanding-trump-2/ Retrieved: June 16, 2018

Lakoff, George, Mark Johnson (1980). Metaphors We Live by. Chicago - London: University of Chicago Press.

Lakoff, George, Mark Johnson (1999). Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and its Challenge to Western Thought. New York: Basic Books.

Lakoff, George, Mark Turner (1989). More Than Cool Reason: A Field Guide to Poetic Metaphor. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Matovac, Darko, Goran Tanacković Faletar (2009). TCM i CIT – dvije suprotstavljene teorije ili krajnje točke istoga procesa? Jezikoslovlje 10(2): 133-151.

Musolff, Andreas (2000a). Mirror-Images of Europe: The imagery used in the public debate about European Politics in Britain and Germany. München: iudicium.

Musolff, Andreas (2000b). Political imagery of Europe: A house without exit doors? Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 21(3): 216-229.

Musolff, Andreas (2001). Cross-language metaphors: parents and children, love, marriage and divorce in the European family. Cotterill, Janet, Anne Ife, eds. Language across Boundaries. London – New York: Continuum, 119-134.

Musolff, Andreas (2004a). Metaphor and Political Discourse. Analogical Reasoning in Debates about Europe. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Musolff, Andreas (2004b). The heart of the European body politic. British and German perspectives on Europe’s central organ. Journal of Multilingual & Multicultural Development 25(5–6): 437-452.

Musolff, Andreas (2006). Metaphor scenarios in public discourse. Metaphor and Symbol 21(1): 23–38.

Musolff, Andreas (2009). Love, parenthood, and gender in the European family: The British perspective. Renger, Almut-Barbara, Roland Alexander Ißler, eds. Europa: Stier und Sternenkranz. Von der Union mit Zeus zum Staatenverbund. Gottingen: V&R unipress – Bonn University Press, 536–548.

Musolff, Andreas (2010). The Eternal outsider? Scenarios of Turkey’s ambitions to join the EU in the German press. Šaric, Ljiljana, Andreas Musolff, Stefan

Manz, Ingrid Hudabiunigg, eds. Contesting Europe’s Eastern Rim: Cultural Identities in Public Discourse. Bristol: Multilingual Matters, 157-171.

Musolff, Andreas (2016). Political Metaphor Analysis: Discourse and Scenarios. London-Oxford – New York: Bloomsbury.

Musolff, Andreas (2017a). Truths, lies and figurative scenarios: Metaphors at the heart of Brexit. Journal of Language and Politics 16(5): 641–657.

Musolff Andreas (2017b). How metaphors can shape political reality. The figurative scenarios at the heart of Brexit. Papers in Language and Communication Studies 1(1): 2-16.

Petrica, Monica (2011). “Overt” vs. “covert” cultural variance in metaphor usage: ‘Europe’ vs. Malta and the EU-membership debate. Handl, Sandra, Hans-Jörg Schmid, eds. Windows to the Mind: Metaphor, Metonymy and Conceptual Blending. Berlin – New York: Walter de Gruyter, 143-166.

Ruiz de Mendoza Ibáňez, Francisco J. (1998). On the nature of blending as a cognitive phenomenon. Journal of Pragmatics 30(3): 259-274.

Ruiz de Mendoza Ibáňez, Francisco J., Sandra Peña Cervel (2002). Cognitive operations and projection spaces. Jezikoslovlje 3(1-2): 131-158.

Ruiz de Mendoza Ibáňez, Francisco J., Olga I. Díez Velasco (2003). Patterns of conceptual interaction. Dirven, René, Ralf Pörings, eds. Metaphor and Metonymy in Comparison and Contrast. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 489-533.

Semino, Elena (2002). A sturdy baby or a derailing train? Metaphorical representations of the Euro in British and Italian newspapers. Text 22(1): 107-139.

Semino, Elena (2008). Metaphor in Discourse. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Šarić, Ljiljana (2005). Metaphorical models in EU discourse in the Croatian media. Jezikoslovlje 6(2): 145-170.

Turner, Mark (2007). Conceptual integration. Geeraerts, Dirk, Hubert Cuyckens, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 377–393.

Turner, Mark, Gilles Fauconnier (1995). Conceptual integration and formal expression. Metaphor and Symbolic Activity 10(3): 183-204.

Turner, Mark, Gilles Fauconnier (1999). A mechanism of creativity. Poetics Today 20(3): 297-418.

Turner, Mark, Gilles Fauconnier (2003). Metaphor, metonymy, and binding. Dirven, René, Ralf Pörings, eds. Metaphor and Metonymy in Comparison and Contrast. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 469-487.

Werkmann, Ana, Gabrijela Buljan (2013). Knocking on EU’s door: on the changing and conflicting metaphorical images of Croatia in selected EU press. Jezikoslovlje 14(2-3): 337-362.


Explorations in English Language and Linguistics

Journal Information


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 154 154 10
PDF Downloads 78 78 10