Metaphor and translation: Some implications of a cognitive approach

Christina Schäffner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Metaphor has been widely discussed within the discipline of Translation Studies, predominantly with respect to translatability and transfer methods. It has been argued that metaphors can become a translation problem, since transferring them from one language and culture to another one may be hampered by linguistic and cultural differences. A number of translation procedures for dealing with this problem have been suggested, e.g., substitution (metaphor into different metaphor), paraphrase (metaphor into sense), or deletion. Such procedures have been commented on both in normative models of translation (how to translate metaphors) and in descriptive models (how metaphors have been dealt with in actual translations). After a short overview of how metaphor has been dealt with in the discipline of Translation Studies, this paper discusses some implications of a cognitive approach to metaphors for translation theory and practice. Illustrations from authentic source and target texts (English and German, political discourse) show how translators handled metaphorical expressions, and what effects this had for the text itself, for text reception by the addressees, and for subsequent discursive developments. © 2004 Elsevier B.V. All right reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1253-1269
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2004


  • conceptual metaphor
  • English
  • French
  • German
  • metaphorical expression
  • translation studies


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