Have you ever been frustrated by something that seemed like a “sea of troubles”? Or perhaps you got caught up in something that felt like a “whirlwind” or a “vortex”?
A lot of us probably have.
These words—sea, whirlwind, vortex —are common metaphors.
A metaphor is when we use one word to stand for another thing.
So, the sea stands for troubles; the whirlwind stands for stress; the vortex stands for problems again. Why is the raft such an
Because it means more than you think.
We all use figures of speech like these almost daily without realising it.
But if you stop to think about it, why do we call troubles seas? Why do we say stress whirls? Why do we say we are caught up in something or need to avoid a situation quicker than a rat escaping a sinking ship?
WHAT MAKES A GOOD METAPHOR?
A metaphor works because it links two seemingly unrelated concepts. The process gives a new idea and adds depth and resonance.
A successful metaphor will prompt the reader to think, “That’s an interesting and unexpected way to look at things!”
A good metaphor has three qualities: it’ s original, it’s precise, and it’s memorable.
WHY ARE METAPHORS IMPORTANT?
Metaphors have the power to change how we think about the world and about ourselves. By seeing something in a new light, we can understand it in new ways and make connections we would otherwise miss.
A metaphor can both reflect and shape the culture of the time.
It can help us make sense of complex or abstract things, like emotions or scientific concepts.
HOW DO METAPHORS SHAPE OUR LANGUAGE AND CULTURE?
Metaphors influence our language and culture in three ways.
Firstly, they help us to express complex ideas.
Secondly, they often help us to create new words.
And finally, they can become so commonplace that they become “dead metaphors” that we no longer notice them or think about them as metaphors.
A good example is the word “unicorn”.
The unicorn is a mythological creature with a single horn on its head, and it first popped up in writing around the year 900.
Around the 16th century, it came to be used as a metaphor for a rare or unusual thing.
Since then, it has become so overused that most people don’t consider it a metaphor anymore.
The raft metaphor highlights the need to survive while maintaining core values and principles.
It reminds us that we do not need to “go with the flow” if we do not want to; we can actively change the course as necessary.
The raft also points to the importance of collaboration and team-working in times of change.
It shows us that we can learn from each other and build on our strengths to create something more significant than none of us could achieve alone.
With the world changing rapidly, and the need for new ways of thinking about our organisations, we need to reflect on the insights metaphors provide.
By understanding how metaphors work, we can use them to enrich our thinking and help us to “see” new things.
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