On the (not so) persuasive potential of metaphorical language in news media communication. Framing the Latin-American migration debate through metaphor.

01 November 2021 → 31 October 2023
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Corpus linguistics
    • Discourse analysis
    • Pragmatics
    • Psycholinguistics and neurolinguistics
    • Semantics
Project description

The persuasive function of metaphorical language has long been taken for granted, both inside and outside of the field of linguistics. Due to their ability to structure more abstract topics in terms of more concrete domains of experience, thereby ‘highlighting’ some aspects of the conversation topic while ‘hiding’ others, metaphors promoted in news media are held to represent a potent tool for influencing people’s way of thinking, feeling and acting. Yet, in recent years, this presumption has increasingly come under fire on the grounds of its unstable empirical foundations and the emergence of conflicting experimental evidence. In view of this, the current project aims to tackle the highly-debated persuasive potential of metaphors used in media discourse and their capacity to impact public opinion formation. Using the US-based, Spanish-language newspaper El Diario’s coverage of the Latin-American migration debate as an empirical case study, it seeks to address shortcomings of prior critical metaphor approaches. Rather than solely relying on a close-text analysis to make claims about metaphors’ ideological motivations and impact, it takes real media producers and consumers seriously in its account of observed metaphorical patterns. To this end, this project incorporates multiple methods, combining discourse/corpus analysis with ethnographic fieldwork, a focus group and an experimental design.