Metaphors are everywhere — in our classrooms, hospitals, homes… and in Trump’s tweets.
In 1980, George Lakoff and Mark Johnson published a book, Metaphors We Live By, that catalyzed extensive research on the relationship between metaphor and thought. That book and much research since has argued that the metaphors we use in language reflect much deeper patterns in thought.
For example, we talk about arguments in terms of war — you can fight, defend, win, and lose both arguments and physical wars, for example. Researchers like Lakoff and Johnson suggest that we’re not merely talking about arguments in terms of wars, but actually thinking of them that way too.
Trump loves these metaphors.
Criticism directed at Schumer is a beating, to Trump. He also invokes the vivid idea of holding hostage to talk about arguing with Democrats during the government shutdown.
Another pervasive metaphor is the idea that good things are up (when you cheer someone up you lift their spirits, and in times of extreme happiness you’re on top of the world, for example). Relatedly, metaphors commonly express the idea that important things are large (like when we have big ideas or grandiose plans). Trump likes to rally his audiences by talking about how big America is(metaphorically), and the ways in which we are on top.
We dream big and reach high. And on the flip side, Trump’s enemies occupy low positions:
Another topic that we almost can’t talk about without invoking metaphors is time. There are many ways we use spatial metaphors to talk about time, but referring to the future as ahead of us and the past as behind is among one of the most common ways. Trump is well aware that forward is the direction of the future and of progress.
Then there’s the thing that, for Trump, is usually literal, but possibly for a small time became understood as metaphorical, which led to Trump’s assertion that it is MOST CERTAINLY LITERAL:
And in case you were wondering, the jury is still out on potential metaphorical underpinnings of covfefe.