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Academic Paper


Title: Processing pictorial metaphor in advertising: A cross-cultural view
Author: Zouhair Maalej
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: University of Manouba
Linguistic Field: Cognitive Science
Abstract: Studies of verbal metaphor processing abound (Black, 1962; Shibles, 1971; Sacks, 1979; Ortony, 1979; Lakoff & Johnson, 1980-1999; Lakoff, 1987; Lakoff & Turner, 1989, etc.), while those studying pictorial metaphor (PM) in advertising are just beginning to become a common practice (Cook, 1992; Kennedy, Green & Vervaeke, 1993; Forceville, 1991-1996; Messaris, 1997). Studies of pictorial metaphor in advertising in a cross-cultural perspective are fewer. Given this omission, the present paper undertakes the study of the processing of pictorial metaphors in advertising (Forceville, 1991; 1996), with special reference to cultural constraints on cognition or 'cultural cognition' (Shore, 1996). It will be argued that the associations made by metaphor processors between source domain (SD) and target domain (TD) both in verbal and pictorial metaphorizing are essentially a function of the interaction between cognition and culture (Foley, 1997: 169). Cultural models (Quinn & Holland, 1987; Shore, 1994) will be claimed to filter information available to our cognition. In case the pictorial material fails to evoke or connote anything in the mind of the audience because it is not part of any of their cultural models, cognition is not activated to deal with the pictorial material metaphorically. However, in case cognition is triggered (because the pictorial material is part of the audience's cultural models), the audience makes sense of the material perceived. In a cross-cultural setting, the pressure exerted on cognition by cultural models is claimed to (i) cause understanding to be blocked altogether, (ii) coerce different audiences into different interpretations in case their respective cultural models clash, or (iii) occasion a situation where the pictorial material is processed as a PM but whose effect is qualitatively dissimilar in two different cultures.
Type: Individual Paper
Status: Completed
Venue: Academic Research, 1: 1, 19-42.
Publication Info: Processing pictorial metaphor in advertising: A cross-cultural view


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