At the crossroads between literature, culture, linguistics, and cognition: local character-based metaphors in fairy tales

Javier Herrero Ruiz


This paper resumes the series devoted to metaphors in fairy tales (cf. Herrero 2005a, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2010). We attempt to show how five conceptual metaphors (PEOPLE ARE ANIMALS, PEOPLE ARE PLANTS, IMPERFECT IS IRREGULAR, LOVE IS MAGIC, and REAL PEOPLE ARE FICTITIOUS CHARACTERS) and their variants may occur at a local level in the narration, allowing us to understand the magical depiction of characters and some of the relationships they may establish in the tales under analysis.

The tales, which were compiled by the British author Andrew Lang (1844-1912), are representative of different cultures and have been downloaded from the Project Gutenberg online library. Our research also supports Herrero’s claims that (1) conceptual metaphor may serve as a taxonomic criterion for tales, and that (2) although many of these stories belong to different socio-cultural settings, they are coincident with the same plots and local metaphors employed, which may be a result of their strong experiential basis.


Conceptual metaphor; fairy tales; local level; characters; culture; experiential basis.

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© Universidad de La Rioja, 2013

ISSN 1576-6357

EISSN 1695-4300