Understanding Metaphors

People in every culture use metaphors and other figurative language to express themselves.  For example, in English we say “he is a pig” to indicate someone who is gluttonous or slovenly. What does it mean that we say “pig” instead of, say, “dog?” What does our use of that particular metaphor say about us as a culture?  Does it say anything at all?

The US government believes that it does. According to The Atlantic, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity is giving out grants as part of a program to “understand how speakers of Farsi, Russian, English, and Spanish see the world by building software that automatically evaluates their use of metaphors.”

The grants could total in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The idea behind the investment is that if you can understand the metaphors people use and how those metaphors affect the way they perceive the world, you can alter the way you present your ideas and proposals so that they are more likely to be accepted. Building a database of metaphors and their meanings also makes it easier to use computers to accurately parse written texts, which is important since the US has a perennial shortage of human translators in certain languages. Read more

60+ Metaphors for Death From Around the World 

Death comes for us all, but that doesn’t mean we like to talk about it. Languages and cultures around the world are full of metaphors for death, ways to discuss it without having to say the actual words for “death” or “die.” Some of these metaphors are pleasant, euphemisms meant to soften the blow for grieving friends and family. Others are more direct, the verbal equivalent of whistling past the graveyard.

Let’s take a look at some metaphors for death from around the world:

English Metaphors for Death

Looking for an alternative to “dead?” English has plenty!

For example, you could say deceased, demised, passed on, ceased to be, late. . . Hold on, I think we should just let Monty Python take it from here:

And now for something completely different: a collection of metaphors for “death” from 16 other languages. Some are poetic, some are blunt, and some are kind of funny. Which one is your favorite?

Polish Metaphors for Death2540741766_721a5e2041

Kopnąć w kalendarz—to kick the calendar
Przejechać się na tamten świat- take a ride to the other world
Wykorkować– cork off
Pożegnać się z życiem – say goodbye to one’s life
Spocząć w grobie – rest in the grave
Skończyć swoje dni – finish one’s days
Zgasnąć jak świeca – go out like a candle
Ostatnie pożegnanie – last farewell Read more