oa Alternation - Genetic Metaphor in Historical Linguistics

Volume 10, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1023-1757



We talk in metaphor, usually without knowing it. We grasp ideas, see the point of an argument, our past is behind us, our future ahead. In scientific disciplines too our speech is loaded with metaphor. Sometimes it is obvious and designed: evolutionary arms races, selfish genes, the Red Queen scenario, hawks and doves. Often it is not so much designed as virtually natural growing out of the way we perceive the processes or objects we descriptionbe. Metaphoric usage may be nearly coercive: macrophages roam through the body looking for foreign objects to devour; other immune cells take in antigens, snip out peptides, present them on their surface so that others can recognize them, cells are recruited for immune defence, neoplasms are detected by immune surveillance, DNA strands are unzipped.

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