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Metaphor – Metaphor Hacker
Education Extended writing Framing Metaphor

Learning is a Journey: Consequences of a metaphor

How to read this This will take about 18 minutes to read (at 230 words/min) but the text is structured to make it easy to jump around and find the key points faster. I tend to go into more detail than most people find necessary. Two reasons to read: Explore a different perspective on some […]

Extended writing Language Metaphor Reading Lists Writing

3 fundamental problems of translating metaphor (or anything else)

How hard is it to translate metaphor? Metaphor seems like it should be very difficult to translate. But I’d like to argue that what is difficult about translating it is not the metaphor part but rather how it is used. This makes it no different from any other aspect of language. But because it is […]

Extended writing Framing Metaphor

Metaphors and freedom: On Tolkien’s notion of allegory vs applicability

On rereading Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, I was struck by this passage in his foreword to the second edition: I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done so since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence. I much prefer history, true or feigned, with its varied applicability […]

Extended writing Knowledge Metaphor Philosophy

Potemkin wisdoms, phronesis and Pixar: How wise sayings protect us from meaning

TL;DR This is an exploration of the difference between wisdom and practical wisdom (phronesis) triggered by this quote from a talk by Ed Catmull: “Once one can articulate an important idea into a concise statement, then one can use this statement, and not have to have the fear of changing behavior.” The main lesson is: if […]

Extended writing Linguistics Metaphor

Fruit loops and metaphors: Metaphors are not about explaining the abstract through concrete but about the dynamic process of negotiated sensemaking

Note: This is a slightly edited version of a post that first appeared on Medium. It elaborates and exemplifies examples I gave in the more recent posts on metaphor and explanation and understanding. One of the less fortunate consequences of the popularity of the conceptual metaphor paradigm (which is also the one I by and large work […]

Education Extended writing Linguistics Metaphor Writing

Writing as translation and translation as commitment: Why is (academic) writing so hard?

This book will perhaps only be understood by those who have themselves already thought the thoughts which are expressed in it—or similar thoughts. It is therefore not a text-book. Its object would be attained if there were one person who read it with understanding and to whom it afforded pleasure. (opening sentence of the preface […]

Education Extended writing Knowledge Metaphor

5 kinds of understanding and metaphors: Missing pieces in pedagogical taxonomies

TL;DR This post outlines 5 levels or types of understanding to help us better to think about the role of metaphor in explanation: Associative understanding: Place a concept in context without any understanding. Dictionary understanding: Repeat definitions, give examples, and make basic connections. Inferential understanding: Make useful inferences based on knowledge about – but without […]

Education Extended writing Framing Knowledge Metaphor

Explanation is an event, understanding is a process: How (not) to explain anything with metaphor

TL;DR There are at least 3 uses of metaphor in the educational process: 1. Invitation to enter; 2. An instrument to grasp knowledge with; 3. Catalyst to transform understanding. Many educators assume that 1 is enough but it rarely leads to any useful understanding. Explanation is a salient part of the educational process to such […]

Extended writing Metaphor Philosophy of Science

Cats and butterflies: 2 misunderstood analogies in scientistic discourse

Butterfly effect and Schrödinger’s cat are 2 very common ways of signalling one’s belonging to the class of the scientifically literate. But they are almost always told wrong. They were both constructed as illustrations of paradoxes or counterintuitive findings in science. Their retelling always misses the crucial ‘as if’. This is an example of metaphor […]

Extended writing Knowledge Linguistics Metaphor

3 burning issues in the study of metaphor

I’m not sure how ‘burning’ these issues are as such but if they’re not, I’d propose that they deserve to have some kindling or other accelerant thrown on them. 1. What is the interaction between automatic metaphor processing and deliberate metaphor application? Metaphors have always been an attractive subjects of study. But they have seen […]