WHAT I’VE BEEN READING: Metaphors We Lives By by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson

This book is for all the language nerds out there (my hand is held up high!) who love exploring how words can structure our reality. As a big fan of metaphor, I couldn’t resist! Some of this book was over my head – linguistics and other concepts that I struggled to understand – but there were a few things that really prompted some deep reflection.

Early in the book, the authors give the example of the metaphor “Argument is war” and then a list of cliches and associated metaphors that we use that are based in that notion (e.g. “he attacked the weak points in my argument”, and “he shot down all my arguments”). The authors argue that these are not just linguistic tools, but these are evidence of our way of thinking about arguments. We don’t just talk about arguments in terms of war. We see the person we are arguing with as an opponent. They provide a counter-example of a culture in which people think about argument as a dance, and challenged readers to think about how the language those people would describe arguments and their thinking about and behaviour while engaged in arguments might differ. This provided great food for thought. How do our metaphors about conflict limit the way we think and behave in conflict situations?

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