Metaphor Map of EnglishMetaphor Map of Old EnglishMetaphorIC
  1. How do I use this resource?
  2. Why are the yellow dots round the green circle on the home screen different sizes when I click on a category?
  3. How do I turn the svg file I downloaded from this website into an image file?
  4. Why can’t I see the visualisation?
  5. What is metaphor?
  6. What do we mean by strong and weak metaphorical connections?
  7. What do we mean by Old English?
  8. Why do we have only start dates of metaphors?
  9. Where did the categories come from?
  10. Do your categories correspond to semantic domains?
  11. How do I find out what concepts are included within a Mapping Metaphor category?
  12. Does the Metaphor Map contain a comprehensive set of the metaphors in English?
  13. How did you create this resource?
  14. What should I do if I spot an error, have further questions or believe that something is missing from the Metaphor Map?
  15. Do I have access to the Historical Thesaurus of English, A Thesaurus of Old English and the Oxford English Dictionary?
  16. Why are some of the data not yet available?
  17. Why do some categories have the same word form more than once in their ‘examples of metaphor’?
  18. Why are there some categories missing from the Metaphor Map of Old English?
  1. How do I use this resource?
    Please see the ‘How to use’ section of this website for detailed instructions, with text and video tutorials.
  2. Why are the yellow dots round the green circle on the home screen different sizes when I click on a category?
    These yellow dots denote the number of connections that each category has with the category that you have selected. So, if a yellow dot is large then this indicates that there are many metaphorical connections to be explored.
  3. How do I turn the svg file I downloaded from this website into an image file?
    There are numerous programs available for download which will change files from svg into other formats, such as jpg and png. We suggest the free and open source package, Inkscape, available here: https://inkscape.org
  4. Why can’t I see the visualisation?
    Please check that you have the latest version of your browser downloaded. The visualisations on this site should work with recent versions of major browsers including Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox.
  5. What is metaphor?
    Metaphor as we see it is the conceptualisation, or understanding, of one domain of meaning in terms of a different domain. This is a matter of thought, but we can see evidence of it through vocabulary from one area (e.g. journeys) being used in another area (e.g. life). Please see the Metaphor in English tab for more discussion.
  6. What do we mean by strong and weak metaphorical connections?
    If a metaphorical connection has been labelled as ‘strong’ it means that we believe we have enough lexical evidence to demonstrate a systematic connection between the two semantic categories (e.g. between Light and Cleverness). If a connection has been labelled as ‘weak’ it means that we have words which we believe demonstrate a metaphorical transfer of meaning, but this has not been judged to be enough to show a systematic connection between the two categories. This is not a purely numerical distinction. We might have several words demonstrating a weak metaphorical link where these words were all used in poetic contexts rather than in everyday language and were each cited only once rather than continuing in use. It is also possible that a strong link might have only a couple of examples of metaphor. If that is the case then these word senses have been judged to be important and widespread enough to merit a label denoting a systematic link.
  7. What do we mean by Old English?
    Old English was English as spoken by the Anglo-Saxons, prior to c.1100. The earliest written sources are from c.700. It differs a great deal from later forms of the language, since the introduction of French vocabulary following the Norman Conquest of 1066 meant that many Old English words had been replaced by about 1150AD.
    For an introduction to Old English by Philip Durkin, please see the following link: http://public.oed.com/aspects-of-english/english-in-time/old-english-an-overview/. Our data come from the Historical Thesaurus of English which, as well as using the Oxford English Dictionary as its major source, has additional Old English material from the Thesaurus of Old English.
  8. Why do we have only start dates of metaphors?
    In our analysis it was possible to pick out the first word sense which demonstrated metaphorical transfer between two categories and we can display the date of this first evidence. It was not possible to pick out every single metaphorical sense and so it was not possible to produce end dates. This difficulty with establishing end dates for metaphorical senses was compounded by issues in establishing the currency of certain word senses at specific periods when viewing definitions in the Oxford English Dictionary 2nd Edition, from which our data ultimately stem. This means that the timelines show only the inception of metaphorical links. They do not show their continued use.
  9. Where did the categories come from?
    The three main divisions (External world, Mental world and Social world) and the 37 major categories in the Metaphor Map (e.g. 1B Life, 2A Mental capacity, etc.) come directly from the hierarchy of the Historical Thesaurus of English. The 415 more detailed categories represent further divisions of the Historical Thesaurus, which itself contains over 225,000 subcategories. The concepts within the Historical Thesaurus hierarchy were divided by the Mapping Metaphor editors into semantic categories which were deemed as close to ‘basic’ concepts as was possible within the constraints of the data (e.g. Reptiles, Money, Love, Morality, etc.).
  10. Do your categories correspond to semantic domains?
    Our categories do not necessarily correspond exactly to ‘semantic domains’, though we have tried to make the categories as understandable as possible, centring them around easily graspable concepts (e.g. Birds, Shape, Imagination, Social position, etc.). Nevertheless, mapping the links between categories does reveal where the metaphorical connections are in English. This provides an overview which should allow researchers to pinpoint specific domains of interest and use the Historical Thesaurus data we have highlighted for further, more focussed, investigation.
  11. How do I find out what concepts are included within a Mapping Metaphor category?
    If you are exploring the data via the visualisation, click on the (i) symbol beside the category name in the green info box. If you are exploring the data using the browse function, click on ‘Show descriptors’ to the right of the category name. Both of these options will bring up a list of the concepts included within that category, based on the semantic hierarchy of the Historical Thesaurus of English. These descriptions of content are only available for the 415 Mapping Metaphor categories, not the higher-level groupings (i.e. there is information on the content of 1I12 Sight, but not 1I Physical Sensation or 1 External World).
  12. Does the Metaphor Map contain a comprehensive set of the metaphors in English?
    The data is almost certainly not comprehensive. Though we have produced a resource which is as comprehensive as possible, as with any project of this scale there will be links which have not been made and evidence with which others may disagree. This is due to many factors including limitations of the source data, the potential for human error and slightly different identifications of metaphor within the team as a result of differing views on the boundaries of metaphor. The latter issues were partly resolved by the rigorous checking procedure detailed more fully in this section. Our use of specific source data means that the Metaphor Map does not contain examples of phrasal metaphors unless they are present in our sources. However, creating the resource involved us comprehensively analysing all of the Historical Thesaurus which in turn contains the entirety of the Oxford English Dictionary 2nd Edition and supplementary Old English material, so the resource is as comprehensive as it was possible to make it given the time and resources available.
  13. How did you create this resource?
    Please see the ‘Method’ section in the ‘About the project’ tab for more information on the creation of the underlying data in this resource. There was very productive collaboration within the research team which allowed us to design technical and visual solutions which suited the challenges of our complex data, with the technical aspects led by Brian Aitken (see this page for information on the project team). In building the visualisations, we used the D3 visualisation library with an underlying SQL database.
  14. What should I do if I spot an error, have further questions or believe that something is missing from the Metaphor Map?
    If you spot a possible error in our data, have suggestions for us to include in our FAQ section or have information on something significant which you believe is missing from the Metaphor Map (e.g. a link between categories or a lexical example) please contact us. Thank you!
  15. Do I have access to the Historical Thesaurus of English, A Thesaurus of Old English and the Oxford English Dictionary?
    Online access to both the Historical Thesaurus of English and A Thesaurus of Old English is freely available to everyone. Most university libraries and most UK public libraries give their members electronic access to the Oxford English Dictionary through their library membership. Please see this page for more details: http://public.oed.com/how-to-subscribe/does-my-library-subscribe/
    Links to all of these resources are available in the Links section of this website.
  16. Why are some of the data not yet available?
    This will show as ‘Data not yet available’ on the metaphor cards and as a blank slot in the table format. We have analysed all of the data and have established where the metaphorical links are between our categories of meaning, so a full picture is available on this website. However, linking this up with specific examples in the Historical Thesaurus of English takes considerably more work and so this is being completed by the team after the end of the original project. By that point there will be lexical examples and date information for every category that we have identified. This is an extra innovation not envisioned during our project planning but I hope you will agree that it is well worth doing as a way of unlocking metaphor in the Historical Thesaurus and Oxford English Dictionary. The page ‘Categories completed’ gives information on which categories have a completed set of example words and dates.
  17. Why do some categories have the same word form more than once in their ‘examples of metaphor’?
    The key phrase here is ‘the same word form’. Some word forms will be present within a Mapping Metaphor category with lots of different senses, which have different shades of meaning. However, they may all link with the same source category. For example, in the link between Primates and Imitation, different senses of the word ‘ape’ in Imitation are given as examples of the metaphorical link from Primates. The direct link to each sense in the Historical Thesaurus allows the user to pinpoint exactly which senses are being referred to and how they are different by clicking on the individual word forms.
  18. Why are there some categories missing from the Metaphor Map of Old English?
    There are two distinct issues here. First, there are a number of categories in the Metaphor Map of Old English, and a much smaller number in the Metaphor Map of English, for which there are Historical Thesaurus data but for which we’ve found no metaphorical connections. These are shown on the Browse page as, for example, “1A03 Cardinal points (0 metaphorical connections)”. Second, there are a number of categories for which there are Historical Thesaurus data for the later periods of English but not for Old English. These are semantic areas which were not yet established within the period of Old English. There are 16 such categories:
    1A17 Earth science
    1B25 Human anatomy
    1F07 Botany
    1E18 Bats, aardvarks, flying lemurs and tree-shrews
    1E20 Zoology and taxidermy
    1J31 Fireworks
    1P19 Computing
    2A05 Psychology
    2B11 Fashionableness
    3I07 Sound and video recording
    3I09 Printing and publishing
    3I12 Journalism
    3I13 Television and broadcasting
    3J03 Railways
    3J05 Air and space travel
    3M03 The arts