Metaphor in Law as Poetic and Propositional Language

The European Legacy: Towards New Paradigms, Journal of the International Society for the Study of European Ideas (ISSEI), Forthcoming

UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Series

15 Pages Posted: 4 Jan 2013  

Linda L. Berger

University of Nevada, Las Vegas, William S. Boyd School of Law

Date Written: December 19, 2012

Abstract

My argument in this essay is that although lawyers routinely use and abuse metaphor as propositional language, they mostly neglect the use of metaphor as poetic language. Poetic metaphor openly invites you to view a topic or a target from a new angle by setting it against or alongside a light source; in this way, it prompts second looks and encourages insights. Propositional metaphor, by comparison, appears designed to persuade you to view the target or the topic under discussion as something you already know about because of your experience with the source. As a result, you are better able to understand or to “handle” the topic, but you discover little that is new. The essay was presented as part of a panel discussion on Law and Language at the 2012 conference of the International Society for the Study of European Ideas.

Keywords: metaphor, rhetoric, persuasion, poetic metaphor, propositional metaphor

Suggested Citation

Berger, Linda L., Metaphor in Law as Poetic and Propositional Language (December 19, 2012). The European Legacy: Towards New Paradigms, Journal of the International Society for the Study of European Ideas (ISSEI), Forthcoming; UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Series. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2196087

Linda L. Berger (Contact Author)

University of Nevada, Las Vegas, William S. Boyd School of Law ( email )

4505 South Maryland Parkway
Box 451003
Las Vegas, NV 89154
United States

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