Metaphors We Live By

By George Lakoff, Mark Johnson,

Book cover of Metaphors We Live By

Book description

People use metaphors every time they speak. Some of those metaphors are literary - devices for making thoughts more vivid or entertaining. But most are much more basic than that - they're "metaphors we live by", metaphors we use without even realizing we're using them. In this book, George Lakoff…

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Why read it?

4 authors picked Metaphors We Live By as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Did you ever say, "Time is Money?" And do you believe it is true?

This book offers a deep dive into the philosophy of how our language is full of useful and less useful metaphors. Human communication is built on them since it makes it easier to talk about complex topics, such as life, love, and time. But they do not create a mirror of reality, but a lens.

These metaphors make us act in accordance with them. If time is money, we can exchange one for the other. But is it really? Think about it. And that is also…

This book is a classic. It transformed my perspective on how metaphors imperceptibly guide the way we think.

Typically, we learn about metaphors in literature classes, where they are thought of as stylistic embellishments. This book turns that idea on its head, showing how metaphors guide the way we speak, think, and behave in response to pretty much everything. 

Take the example of time. Almost all the ways we talk about it rely on the metaphor of money: I “budget time,” “waste time,” “run out of time,” etc. Speaking this way makes me think of time as something that can…

This book is about how we understand our language and our experiences, and how we make meaning. It sets out some of the theories that structure analysis of metaphor and language, and while it’s based on the authors’ research, it is an accessible introduction. This book will change the way you think about the language you use every day, often without a second thought.

This book has been enormously influential with almost 80,000 citations. It inaugurated the study of metaphor as a fundamental aspect of human thinking, not just a linguistic flourish. It provides abundant examples such as Argument is War and Happy is Up that show the great extent to which metaphors pervade human thinking. Although the book exaggerates the universality of metaphor in human thought and the contribution of metaphor to reality, it survives as the classic source for modern understanding of metaphor. 

From Paul's list on metaphor.

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