As a phenomenon involving both conceptual system and language, metaphor has been the subject of interest to researchers representing various disciplines, e.g. psychology, neurology, literary studies, linguistics, natural language processing, etc. Consequently, there is now a substantial body of scientific literature devoted to this topic. Nevertheless, only a small number of works on metaphor is corpus-driven. The majority of researchers construct their models of metaphor on the basis of recurrent, mostly artificial examples such as ust korale (‘coral lips’), Jan to lew (‘John is a lion’) or Julia to słońce (‘Juliet is the sun’). Moreover, since there is a multitude of conceptions of metaphors, and its range is constantly under debate, the term itself has become vague. Metaphor has been defined in various ways—as a substitution of names, shortened simile, ad hoc categorization, mapping across cognitive domains, mental spaces blending, or speech act. When we study texts, metaphor turns out to be a more multidimensional and complex issue than the existing theories assume. It follows that it is necessary to verify the current models of metaphor, and to elaborate efficient methods of describing metaphorical expressions. The following issues hinder corpus-driven studies of metaphors: firstly, the existing corpora have not been designed for formulating queries about metaphorically-used words; secondly, metaphor may exceed a lexeme or a two-word phrase—it may also be an idiom, a larger passage, or even a whole text; thirdly, the existing theoretical models do not consider the ways metaphors are used in texts. Instead, they focus on abstract conceptual schemata such as X is Y (e.g. principal subject and subsidiary subject, source domain and target domain, mental spaces and blend). However, when we focus on discovering the presumable conceptual schemata, we lose sight of the fact that the metaphorical expression as such has its actual linguistic properties.
In our opinion, in order to study properly the complex metaphor phenomena, it is essential to start from a restricted research area, and to focus on analyzing authentic texts instead of fabricated ones. Metaphorical expressions in such a corpus need to be annotated both semantically and grammatically. It seems that synaesthetic metaphor may prove to be a valuable material for preliminary research.
The benefits of choosing synaesthetic metaphor as an object of study involve both a precise indication of the scope of research, and a guarantee of rich and diversified material for analysis.
Consequently, the goals of our project are as follows:
- to compile a corpus of synaesthetic metaphors, based on authentic texts from blogs;
- to elaborate a new, efficient method of identifying and analyzing metaphors in discourse;
- to design tools dedicated to annotating metaphors, analyzing and presenting results;
- to examine grammatical and semantic proprieties of synaesthetic metaphor;
- to construct a model of synaesthesia for the Polish language.
Project no 2014/15/B/HS2/00182 finaced by the National Science Centre. SYNAMET – Microcorpus of Synaesthetic Metaphors. Towards a Formal Description and Efficient Methods of Analysis of Metaphors in Discourse.