"English Philology is just a Bubble" : Unconventional Metaphors in English as a Lingua Franca

Abstract: The present thesis investigates unconventional metaphors in English as a Lingua Franca (ELF). Empirical approaches in metaphor research have gained prominence, yet methodologies could benefit from more transparent procedural descriptions and efforts to decrease researcher intuition in the data analysis. Unconventional metaphors in ELF have mainly been researched with form-based approaches, while investigations of the conceptual level are rare. The present thesis aims at enhancing objectivity by utilizing a stringent research design in particular in relation to metaphor interpretation, as well as advancing the understanding of unconventional metaphors in ELF by investigating what aspects distinguish unconventional from conventional metaphors. To achieve these aims, a survey was created, with stimuli based on videos and transcripts from the Corpus of Academic Spoken English. One hundred sixty ELF speakers participated in the survey. The responses were analyzed by identifying co-text (verbatim use of expressions from the stimuli), frames (identified through FrameNet, based on lexical units used by respondents), and other interpretations (individual cases of interpretations that are not co-text related and differ from frames) of the expressions given. This methodology purposely utilizes FrameNet to reduce the influence of the researcher’s intuition on the analysis. Findings indicate that unconventional metaphors can be defined by their novelty, aptness and co-text. Novelty distinguishes unconventional from conventional metaphors by using new or unused properties of metaphors. Aptness is an indicator of quality and determines how well designated properties lend themselves to elucidate what speakers want to express. Co-text reflects the socio-cultural context in which the metaphor is embedded, and it can bias interpretations. Taken together, the research presented offers a systematic approach to unconventional metaphors, enabling a definition of unconventionality based on empirical data. 

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