Bats out of the belfry: The nature of metaphor, with special attention to pictorial metaphors

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The study of metaphor currently being made in the wake of Lakoff may contribute important knowledge of the traits most relevant to iconicity, but it fails to account for the nature of metaphors, which suppose a wilful misclassification of phenomena, which leads to a state of semantic tension. Taking our point of departure in an interpretation of the Peircean categories that we have proposed in a recent paper, we suggest that what Lakoff is studying are diagrams, rather than true metaphors. We then go on to show that the metaphor is a functional category, and that is can thus be realised also in pictures, though its manifestation in different in several ways from the verbal equivalent. Pictorial metaphors are doubly iconic, and thus suppose a double discovery procedure to pin down the similarity.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Other Humanities not elsewhere specified


  • metaphors, diagrams, pictorial signs, rhetoric, iconicity
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-104
JournalSigns and media
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Publication categoryResearch