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WHY VISUAL METAPHORS MATTER: METAPHOR THEORY AND THE COGNITIVE GROUNDING OF VISUAL METAPHOR (COGVIM)
Start date: Feb 1, 2015, End date: Jan 31, 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"This study will elucidate what type of conceptual knowledge is shared between two concepts aligned in visual metaphors, and how this differs from verbal metaphors. It will provide novel insights on the structure and functioning of the human semantic memory and on state-of-the-art computational methods of knowledge representation, with special focus on the understanding of concepts expressed in the visual and verbal modality.Since conceptual knowledge derives from both our perceptual experiences and our linguistic encounters with the involved concepts, and since the two streams of information might not fully overlap, I argue that the modality in which a metaphor is expressed triggers different sets of semantic information about the involved concepts.By employing a computational, interdisciplinary Network-Approach, I will develop a model explaining visual metaphor’s cognitive grounding in bodily experiences. This allows me to investigate the contents of our knowledge about specific concepts, and highlight the overlapping features between source and target domains of visual and verbal metaphors in different environments. I argue that the interpretation of visual metaphors might rely on conceptual knowledge that is not necessarily encoded in linguistic structures, nor commonly used in verbal communication.Bringing together the embodied theory of cognition (conceptual knowledge is rooted in bodily experiences) and the distributional Hp (words that appear in similar contexts have similar meanings), enables me to analyze the concepts involved in visual and verbal metaphors across three semantic databases accounting for: mental simulations, experiential, and linguistic contexts.The cross-disciplinary nature of this project, hosted at the prestigious Metaphor Lab lead by prof. Gerard Steen, and the Network Institute at the VU Amsterdam, will make me a bridging scholar between different disciplines: metaphor studies, cognitive, and computational linguistics."
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