Thursday, July 10, 2008

Reborn Metaphors

Metaphors are usually classified as either living or dead, though it is often hard to distinguish the difference as language is constantly changing. A metaphor is said to die when its figurative meaning becomes accepted as part of the standard lexicon of a particular language. However, one of the aspects of language change is that the meaning of metaphors can be extended to take on new meanings; therefore, even a metaphor that is thought to be dead can be reborn with a new extended meaning. An example of this rebirth is demonstrated by the metaphoric extension of clotheshorse. A clotheshorse was originally an object that physically resembled a horse in its framework and functioned to hold clothing; however, through metaphoric extension clotheshorse came to be interpreted as a person who habitually wears or shows off clothing.

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