Successful collaboration begins with a shared language, hence the need for a glossary. This joint effort of contributors from several teams ensures, on the one hand, terminological and conceptual coherence across not only our theoretical approaches, but also the qualitative case studies and quantitative research conducted in OPPORTUNITIES. On the other hand, our glossary facilitates communication between the academic side of the project and the fieldwork conducted by NGOs, uniting our teams working from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ghana, Italy, Mauritania, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania and Senegal.

For more information about the Structure and Objectives of the Glossary, click here...)

Simply put, a metaphor is a linguistic comparison between two conceptual domains that are normally seen as separate and independent. Metaphor theorists call this comparison a “cross-domain mapping.” The phrase “a flow of migrants,” for instance, implicitly compares migrants to a fluid moving through a container (such as a water pipe). This metaphorical expression thus maps the conceptual domain of human migration onto the movement of a physical, inanimate substance. A metaphor is an implicit comparison, while a simile is an explicit comparison (“the migrants are like flowing water” etc.), but the underlying conceptual mechanism – the cross-domain mapping – is largely the same. Metaphors and similes have long been associated with literary works (especially poetry), but they are pervasive in everyday language and media discourse. Some metaphors are so conventional that they hardly register as metaphors (arguably, this is the case for “a flow of migrants”). Other metaphorical expressions are more sophisticated and unconventional – they stand out and therefore may elicit a stronger emotional response. Creative metaphors can be used to enrich and complicate the meanings of narrative; alternatively, narrative can build on and challenge existing metaphorical expressions.

⇢ see also discourse analysis, metaphorology, narrative technique

References and further reading: Kövecses, Zoltán. 2010. Metaphor: A Practical Introduction. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.

Category: A

Work Package: 2, 3, 5