maandag 20 juni 2011


Afgelopen week was het promotieweek. Op 8 juni promoveerde Connie Veugen onder begeleiding van Wilbert Spooren, Ed Tan en Heidi de Mare op een proefschrift over "Computer games as a narrative genre". 14 juni was de dag van het VU-sterproject "Mechanismen van publiekscommunicatie". Eerst promoveerde Kirsten Vis (supervisie: Wilbert Spooren, Gerard Steen en José Sanders) op het onderwerp "Subjectivity in news discourse. A corpus linguistic analysis of informalization". Twee uur later was Tryntje Pasma aan de beurt met een proefschrift "Metaphor and register variation. The personalization of Dutch news discourse" (supervisors: Gerard Steen, Wilbert Spooren). Daags erna verdedigde Lettie Dorst met verve haar proefschrift "Metaphor in Fiction. Language, Thought and Communication" (supervisors: Gerard Steen, Alan Cienki). De serie proefschriften trok ook de aandacht van de Volkskrant, al was de naam van de promovendi in het bericht niet te vinden. Overigens waren Kirsten en Lettie diezelfde week nog actief op de internationale conferentie Stylistics across disciplines 2011 (Leiden).

maandag 13 juni 2011

Promotie Tina Krenmayr: Metaphor in Newspapers

While the word “metaphor” reminds people of literature or poetry, metaphorical language is actually all around us. Take newspapers: “Wall Street has been hitting new peaks” and “prices remain high”. Prices are not physically higher and there are no mountaintops that Wall Street is literally touching. Because we understand what it means to be at a higher location, we also understand the use of “high” and “peaks” in more abstract contexts such as news articles. For linguists, this sort of metaphor use is a window onto the ways we think about and understand the world, and how we represent thoughts through language.
I have built a database of newspaper articles, fiction texts, academic texts and conversations – the first of its kind – and analyzed it for metaphor use. Previously, linguists could only speculate about how frequently journalists actually use metaphor and what kinds they employ. Counter-intuitively, metaphors are more common in news than fiction and conversation. Some news metaphors are very conventional (e.g. high prices), while others are deliberately used to persuade, entertain or build interest (e.g. the TV Western fades into the sunset).
Does this mean that whenever readers come across metaphorical language such as “hitting new peaks” that they actually think of mountaintops? Usually not. However, in an experiment I showed that if journalists draw attention to a metaphor or use a novel one, readers are likely to make those connections. Since metaphorical language can be particularly persuasive, such metaphor signaling can make for a strong, effective writing style.
My defense is on 27 June at 1.45 PM (Aula).

Krennmayr, Tina (2011). Metaphor in newspapers. LOT Dissertation Series, 276. Utrecht: LOT
ISBN 978-94-6093-062-1

Downloadable pdf file available at: