A Corpus-Based Analysis of Metaphorical Uses of the High Frequency Noun Time: Challenges to Conceptual Metaphor Theory

Part of the Yearbook of Corpus Linguistics and Pragmatics book series (YCLP, volume 2)


This chapter attempts to contribute to the ongoing debate over Conceptual Metaphor Theory by investigating its empirical validity in language use with a corpus-based approach. Using the Bank of English (BoE), this study analyses the frequently-occurring linguistic expressions of time that are associated with two conceptual metaphors of time (TIME IS MONEY and TIME IS MOTION). The results firstly show that the Lakoffian approach of intuitive metaphor analysis raises questions, as their studies (Lakoff and Johnson, Metaphors we live by. University of Chicago, Chicago, 1980a, J Philos 77(8):453–486, 1980b) fail to mention many frequently-occurring linguistic metaphors of time and some of the linguistic examples they gave occur rarely in the BoE. Secondly, the corpus-based analysis reveals more dynamic or complicated linguistic features (e.g. collocational behaviour of certain lexical items and phraseological uses of some linguistic expressions) that cannot be entirely explained or have not been accounted for by the conceptual mapping of Conceptual Metaphor Theory.


Corpus-based Metaphorical uses of time Conceptual metaphor theory Phraseological behaviour 



The author is greatly indebted to Dr. Crayton Walker for his guidance and the two anonymous referees for their comments. Needless to say, the author is responsible for any remaining errors.


  1. Barcelona, A. (Ed.). (2003). Metaphor and metonymy at the crossroads: A cognitive perspective. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  2. Carter, R. (1998). Vocabulary: Applied linguistic perspectives (2nd ed.). London/New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Deignan, A. (1997). A corpus-based study of some linguistic features of metaphor. PhD dissertation. The University of Birmingham, Birmingham.Google Scholar
  4. Deignan, A. (2005). Metaphor and corpus linguistics. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Gibbs, R. (2011). Evaluating conceptual metaphor theory. Discourse Processes, 48(8), 529–562.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Halliday, M. A. K. (1994). An introduction to functional grammar (2nd ed.). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  7. Hanks, P. (2006). Metaphoricity is gradable. In A. Stefanowitsch & S. T. Gries (Eds.), Corpus-based approaches to metaphor and metonymy (pp. 17–35). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  8. Hoey, M. (2005). Lexical priming: A new theory of words and language. London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  9. Knowles, M., & Moon, R. (2006). Introducing metaphor. London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  10. Kövecses, Z. (2010). Metaphor: A practical introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Kövecses, Z. (2011). Methodological issues in conceptual metaphor theory. In S. Handl & H. Schmid (Eds.), Windows to the mind: Metaphor, metonymy and conceptual blending (pp. 23–40). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  12. Lakoff, G. (1993). The contemporary theory of metaphor. In A. Ortony (Ed.), Metaphor and thought (pp. 202–251). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1980a). Metaphors we live by. Chicago: University of Chicago.Google Scholar
  14. Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1980b). Conceptual metaphor in everyday language. The Journal of Philosophy, 77(8), 453–486.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (2003). Metaphors we live by. London: The University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Lewis, M. (Ed.). (2000). Teaching collocation: Further developments in the lexical approach. Boston: Thomson Heinle.Google Scholar
  17. Liang, M. (2013, July). Sparing a free hand: context-based automatic categorisation of concordance lines. Paper presented at the 7th International Corpus Linguistics Conference (CL2013), The Lancaster University, Lancaster.Google Scholar
  18. Littlemore, J. (2009). Applying cognitive linguistics to second language learning and teaching. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. McCarthy, M. (1990). Vocabulary. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  20. McEnery, T., & Hardie, A. (2012). Corpus linguistics: Method, theory and practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  21. McGlone, M. (2007). What is the explanatory value of a conceptual metaphor? Language & Communication, 27, 109–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Patterson, K. (2013, July). The identification of metaphor using corpus methods: Can a re-classification of metaphoric language help our understanding of metaphor usage and comprehension? Paper presented at the 7th International Corpus Linguistics Conference (CL2013), The Lancaster University, Lancaster.Google Scholar
  23. Pérez Hernández, L. (2001). Metaphor-based cluster models and conceptual interaction: The case of ‘time’. Atlantis, 23(2), 65–82.Google Scholar
  24. Piirainen, E. (2008). Figurative phraseology and culture. In S. Granger & F. Meunier (Eds.), Phraseology: An interdisciplinary perspective (pp. 207–228). Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  25. Rojo, L. A., & Orts, M. A. (2010). Metaphorical pattern analysis in financial texts: Framing the crisis in positive or negative metaphorical terms. Journal of Pragmatics, 42, 3300–3313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ruiz de Mendoza Ibáñez, F. J., & Pérez Hernández, L. (2011). The contemporary theory of metaphor: Myths, developments and challenges. Metaphor and Symbol, 26(3), 161–185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Sinclair, J. M. (1991). Corpus, concordance, collocation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Sinclair, J. M. (2004). Trust the text: Language, corpus and discourse. London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  29. Stefanowitsch, A. (2006). Words and their metaphors: A corpus-based approach. In A. Stefanowitsch & S. T. Gries (Eds.), Corpus-based approaches to metaphor and metonymy (pp. 63–105). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Stefanowitsch, A., & Gries, S. T. (Eds.). (2006). Corpus-based approaches to metaphor and metonymy. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EnglishUniversity of BirminghamBirminghamUK

Personalised recommendations