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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Professor Zoltán Kövecses

IAS Fellow & Prowse Fellow at Van Mildert College, Durham University (January - March 2008)

Professor Zoltán Kövecses received his M.A. from Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, in 1972 and his Ph.D. and D.Sc. from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 1988 and 1996, respectively. He is Professor of Linguistics in the Department of American Studies at Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest. His main research interests include the conceptualization of emotions, the study of metaphor and idiomaticity, the relationship between language, mind and culture, and American slang and American English. He is also working as a lexicographer, and is the author of several Hungarian-English, English-Hungarian dictionaries.

Professor Kövecses serves on the advisory board of several scholarly journals including Cognitive Linguistics,and he is one of the four editors of Metaphor and Symbol.

His most important books include Language, Mind, and Culture. A Practical Introduction, 2006, Oxford University Press; Metaphor in Culture. Universality and Variation, 2005, Cambridge University Press; Metaphor. A Practical Introduction, 2002, Oxford University Press; Metaphor and Emotion, 2000, Cambridge University Press; Emotion Concepts, 1990, New York and Berlin: Springer-Verlag; and The Language of Love, 1988, Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press.

He has taught and lectured widely at several American and European universities, including the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, Rutgers University, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Hamburg University, Odense University, the University of California at Los Angeles, and the University of California at Berkeley.

He is currently working on the language and conceptualization of emotions, cross-cultural variation in metaphor, metaphor and metonymy in discourse, and the issue of the relationship between language, mind, and culture from a cognitive linguistic perspective.

In Durham, he will conduct research into the way metaphors are used in discourse. His main research question will be: which factors (social, cultural, cognitive, textual, and the like) play a role in the selection of particular metaphoric expressions? More generally, this research project aims to understand how abstract concepts appear (or are given expression) in discourse.

IAS Fellow's Public Lecture -Universality and variation in metaphor

Cognitive linguists have so far paid a great deal of attention to the remarkable universality of many conceptual metaphors. However, their theories fail to account for the equally impressive diversity of metaphorical conceptualization both across and within cultures. The present paper is an attempt to lay down the foundations of a theory of metaphor that is capable of simultaneously accounting for both universality and variation in metaphor.

Professor Zoltán Kövecses Publications

Kövecses, Z. (2010) Metaphor. Oxford: Oxford University Press 

Kövecses, Z (2010) 'A new look at metaphorical creativity in cognitive linguistics', Cognitive Linguistics, 21(4), pp. 655-690

Kövecses, Z (2009) 'The Effect of Context on the use of Metaphor in Discourse', Iberica, 17, pp. 11-24

IAS Insights Paper


On the ‘standard' view of conceptual metaphors, metaphorical creativity arises from the cognitive processes of extending, elaboration, questioning and combining conceptual content in the source domain. I will propose that such cases constitute only a part of metaphorical creativity. An equally important and common set of cases is comprised by what I call  ‘contextinduced' metaphors. I will discuss five types of these: metaphors induced by (1) the immediate linguistic context itself, (2) what we know about the major entities participating in the discourse, (3) the physical setting, (4) the social setting, and (5) the immediate cultural context. Such metaphors have not been systematically investigated so far, though they seem to form a large part of our metaphorical creativity.

Insights Paper