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


  • Javier Herrero Ruiz University of La Rioja



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


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.


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Author Biography

Javier Herrero Ruiz, University of La Rioja

Javier Herrero Ruiz, PhD and Assistant Lecturer at the Technical University of Madrid, graduated in English Philology with a specialization in linguistics at the University of La Rioja (Spain) in 2002. In 2003 he started his doctoral courses with Prof. F.J. Ruiz de Mendoza as supervisor and took part in a research project related to cognition and the compilation of lexical databases. In 2004, he was a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley, under the tuition of Prof. E. Sweetser; he also attended some NLING meetings, chaired by Prof. G. Lakoff. He defended his thesis in 2008. His publications focus on pragmatics, discourse analysis, and Cognitive Linguistics. He has also presented his research in international conferences such as the International Conference on Cognitive Linguistics or AESLA (the Spanish Association of Applied Linguistics).


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How to Cite

Herrero Ruiz, J. (2015). At the crossroads between literature, culture, linguistics, and cognition: local character-based metaphors in fairy tales. Journal of English Studies, 13, 47–70.