Metaphor use in three UK university lectures

Graham Low, Jeannette Littlemore, Almut Köster

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


It has been claimed in recent years that, on the one hand, metaphor occurs in UK university lectures in ways that are likely to confuse ESL learners (Littlemore 2001, 2003) and on the other hand that US lecturers use it in highly structured ways, particularly involving linked clusters, to help organize the lecture and indicate the opinions of the speaker (Corts and Pollio 1999; Corts and Meyers 2002). Both sets of claims are potentially useful to teachers of English for Academic Purposes (EAP). However, they both derive from studies with fairly narrow foci. There have to date been few studies examining at a more general level where metaphor occurs and how it is used in lectures. The present paper reports part of a small-scale study to develop a viable methodology for analysing metaphor use generally in lectures. It examines the incidence and use of metaphor in three UK university lectures in the BASE corpus, using a version of the MIP procedure developed by the Pragglejaz Group (2007). The main findings are that metaphor is used repeatedly throughout all three lectures, but that there are few elaborated or developed metaphors; those there are tend to be short, unconnected with later metaphors and used primarily to solve local, rather than global purposes. The implications for EAP teaching are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)428 - 455
JournalApplied Linguistics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2008

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 602004 General linguistics

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