Like the Machete the Snake: Integration of Topic and Vehicle in Poetry Comprehension Reveals Meaning Construction Processes
Keywords: 
Poetry
Meaning integration
Metaphor comprehension
Figurative language
Blending theory
Issue Date: 
2015
ISSN: 
1931-3896
Citation: 
PAGÁN CÁNOVAS, C; VALENZUELA, J; SANTIAGO, J. Like the machete the snake: Integration of topic and vehicle in poetry comprehension reveals meaning construction processes. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts. US, 9, 4, 385-393
Abstract
Metaphor and simile research has traditionally focused on the projection of content from vehicle to topic, thereby revealing new meaning in the topic. We show that the meaning of vehicles also changes during figurative language understanding. Participants read a poem that likens the temporal self to a snake being divided by a machete, and were asked to draw the snake. Against prototypical snake drawings, their snakes showed central characteristics of timelines: they were straight and oriented towards the right. These results suggest that figurative language understanding, and possibly all language understanding, is an integrative and creative process of the kind proposed by Blending Theory. The results also suggest that entrenched, conventional patterns for mapping and integrating conceptual structures, such as the timeline, can play a central role in the meaning of highly creative figurative language.

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