What is the main idea discussed in Lynne Cameron's essay "Metaphor in everyday language"?

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Lynne Cameron quite rightly stresses that figurative language is unconsciously used by most people in their everyday language. Upon analysis, individuals would be surprized to note its frequency. She focuses on the specific feature of language - metaphor and its development through our exposure within our environment.

..metaphor often has an affective role concerned with emotions and relations between people.

Language therefore serves a far higher purpose than the communication of ideas for explanatory purposes; it is extremely emotional.

 Lynne Cameron believes that using metaphor is an inherent part of the cognitive process. It is almost automatic and allows us to access our own language stores developed over a lifetime. It makes sense that others from the same culture and background will have a similar store or vocabulary  and thus language has 'special'  or unique meanings to different people. Metaphor is a

shifting, dynamic phenomenon that spreads, connects, and disconnects ..., starts and restarts, flows ..developing, extending, changing.

She comments that a person's attitudes and values are recognizable from the use of metaphor and she explains how metaphor use will differ dependent upon the discussion. Classroom discussion, unless literature- based, showed the lowest metaphor use.

Sylvia Plath, considered to be one of the  

 great confessional poets of the twentieth century

wrote 'Metaphors' and was able to express her ambivalence towards the birth of her daughter - and the seemingly unknown. Her expression allowed her to

 capture(s) a universal tension that few women at the time felt free to name.

This reinforces Lynne Cameron's premise that metaphor fulfills a far larger role.

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