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Metaphor as categorisation: a connectionist implementation

Thomas, Michael S.C. and Mareschal, Denis (2001) Metaphor as categorisation: a connectionist implementation. In: Barnden, J.A. and Lee, M.G. (eds.) Metaphor and Artificial Intelligence. Metaphor & Symbol 16 (1-. London, UK: Psychology Press, pp. 5-27. ISBN 9780805897302.

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Abstract

A key issue for models of metaphor comprehension is to explain how in some metaphorical comparison <A is B>, only some features of B are transferred to A. The features of B that are transferred to A depend both on A and on B. This is the central thrust of Black's well known interaction theory of metaphor comprehension (1979). However, this theory is somewhat abstract, and it is not obvious how it may be implemented in terms of mental representations and processes. In this paper we describe a simple computational model of on-line metaphor comprehension which combines Black's interaction theory with the idea that metaphor comprehension is a type of categorisation process (Glucksberg & Keysar, 1990, 1993). The model is based on a distributed connectionist network depicting semantic memory (McClelland & Rumelhart, 1986). The network learns feature-based information about various concepts. A metaphor is comprehended by applying a representation of the first term A to the network storing knowledge of the second term B, in an attempt to categorise it as an exemplar of B. The output of this network is a representation of A transformed by the knowledge of B. We explain how this process embodies an interaction of knowledge between the two terms of the metaphor, how it accords with the contemporary theory of metaphor stating that comprehension for literal and metaphorical comparisons is carried out by identical mechanisms (Gibbs, 1994), and how it accounts for both existing empirical evidence (Glucksberg, McGlone, & Manfredi, 1997) and generates new predictions. In this model, the distinction between literal and metaphorical language is one of degree, not of kind.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: Special double issue of journal "Metaphor & Symbol" published as a monograph
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Science > Psychological Sciences
Depositing User: Sarah Hall
Date Deposited: 17 Apr 2012 14:16
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2013 12:33
URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/4659

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