Статья 'Metaphorical modeling of migration: based on materials of American mass media.' - журнал 'SENTENTIA. European Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences' - NotaBene.ru
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SENTENTIA. European Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences

Metaphorical modeling of migration: based on materials of American mass media.

Polonskaya Olesya Yur'evna

PhD in Philology

Associate Professor, Department of Foreign Languages №2, Irkutsk National Research Technical University

664074, Russia, Irkutsk region, Irkutsk, Lermontov str., 110

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Abstract: This research is devoted to consideration of the metaphorical features of the representation of migration in the American press. The object of the study is a metaphorical representation of migrants and migration in the language of the United States media. The subject of this research is metaphorical models, structuring the concept “migration” in the language of American mass media. The goal of this paper is to study the features of metaphorical modeling of migration in the US political media discourse. The relevance of the study is substantiated by the lack of knowledge of the metaphorical representation of migration processes in modern media of America. This study is based on the cognitive approach, according to which metaphor is the most important phenomenon in comprehending the surrounding reality. The study of linguistic material and the description of metaphorical models made it possible to identify attitudes towards migrants at the present stage of development of American society.


concept, conceptualization, discource, linguoculture, linguistic sign, migrant, migration, conceptual metaphor, verbalization, metaphorical model

In modern linguistics, one of the most used means of indirect nomination is a metaphor.

According to N.D. Arutyunova, the study of metaphor has moved into the field of practical speech, in those areas that are turned to thinking, cognition and perception, to conceptual systems.

Metaphor is considered as a key to understanding the foundations of thinking and the processes of creating not only a nationally specific vision of the world, but also its universal image. This makes metaphor a particularly important means of identifying the meanings contained in mental structures [1].

The study of metaphors helps in understanding the national picture of the world and the way of thinking of representatives of a society. That is why many researchers have devoted their works to the study of metaphors in migration discourse [2,3,4,5,6].

The analysis of conceptual metaphors was carried out by means of continuous sampling from electronic versions of well-known American newspapers «The New York Times», «USA Today» and «The Wall Street Journal» and allowed to distinguish three main groups: the metaphors personifying natural phenomena and natural disasters, military and commodity-ware metaphors.

Metaphors MIGRANTS - NATURAL DISASTER, often used to express something unexpected and uncontrolled as a flow, flood or a surge are presented in following examples:

Under a kind of ultimatum from her Bavarian conservative partners to reduce the flow of migrants coming to Germany after registering in other European Union countries, Ms. Merkel got the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, to call an emergency meeting here on Sunday of the European leaders most affected by migration. [Steven Erlanger. Migration to Europe Is Slowing, but the Political Issue Is as Toxic as Ever // June 22, 2018 https://www.nytimes.com/].

With the flood of Cubans and other Central American immigrants, he would have seen Miami change from a Southern American town to a satellite South American state [Gregory Ch. A history of fighting over language // USA TODAY, May 15th , 2008 // http://www.usatoday.com].

A surge in migrants trying to cross the channel has led to a rise in break-ins of the fishing boats in a French port, as smugglers look for more seaworthy options to make the treacherous voyage [Adam Nossiter. As Migrants Risk Crossing the English Channel, French Fishing Boats Pay a Price //Jan. 14, 2019 // https://www.nytimes.com/].

This disaster is capable of shaking continents:

It is the paradox of Europe’s migration crisis: The actual number of arriving migrants is back to its pre-2015 level, even as the politics of migration continue to shake the Continent. [Patrick Kingsley. Migration to Europe Is Down Sharply. So Is It Still a ‘Crisis’// The NY Times, June 27, 2018 // https://www.nytimes.com/].

It is impossible to curb or cope with it:

Enough has changed on the ground that even if Turkey were to revoke its deal with the European Union to curb migration, people would probably stay put [A Threat on Migration That May Prove to Be Empty // https://www.nytimes.com/].

Officials from France, Germany, Italy and Spain met with leaders from Chad, Niger and Libya to discuss ways to stop the flow of migrants [European Leaders Look to Africa to Stem Migration // Aug. 29, 2017 https://www.nytimes.com/].

The United Nations on Friday completed an agreement on improved ways to handle the global flow of migrants — a pact particularly notable because it was boycotted by a huge and influential member, the United States. [Megan Specia U.N. Agrees on Migration Pact, but U.S. Is Conspicuously Absent // https://www.nytimes.com/].

...to crack down on the surge of Central American migrants trying to cross the border. He said the percentage... //Jill Colvin and Colleen Long. Trump hitting Mexico with 5% tariff in response to migrants //  May 31, 2019 https://www.washingtonpost.com/]

The analysis of this examples shows that the metaphors used as means of expression in the American press have a negative connotation and form a negative image of migrant. As a result migration appears as a potential danger and spontaneous, uncontrollable process.

Conceptual metaphorical model MIGRATION - WAR is used to perceive the image of a migrant as an enemy and can be verbalized by military lexemes: to struggle, to storm, to march forward, to intercept, revolt, invasion. These metaphors can be illustrated by the following examples:

European leaders have been struggling for the last three years to deal with the problem of migration [Steven Erlanger. Migration to Europe Is Slowing, but the Political Issue Is as Toxic as Ever // https://www.nytimes.com/].

The free movement of people and goods, one of the E.U.’s founding ideals, is under threat as leaders grapple with a populist revolt against immigrants [ For Europe, cutting the flow of migrants challenges basic ideals// https://www.nytimes.com].

Electoral campaign slogans warn against the migrants’ “invasion,” but Italy’s social fabric has already changed [An Ancient Tuscan Village, Like Italy, Is Reshaped by Migration //www.nytimes.com].

Hundreds of migrants storm fences to enter Spanish enclave in Africa [https://www.nytimes.com/].

President Trump said the U.S. will end Central American aid as thousands of migrants march toward the U.S. border [https://www.wsj.com/].

UK Border Force intercepts 74 migrants crossing Channel [https://www.washingtonpost.com/]

To fight against this enemy government send or deploy troops:

President Trump amplified his anti-immigration message ahead of next week’s election, saying he was now prepared to deploy up to 15,000 troops to the Mexican border in anticipation of a migrant caravan [ Alex Leary, Nancy A. Youssef. Trump Calls for Up to 15,000 Troops at Border as Election Nears // The Wall Street Journal // https://www.wsj.com].

The U.S. military said it would send 5,200 troops to the southwest border in response to a caravan of migrants from Central America... [https://www.wsj.com/].

Harboring an enemy is perceived as treachery or a crime and should be punished:

...against a border activist charged with harboring migrants in Arizona (all times local): 6:10 p.m. // The Latest: Border activist who helped migrants now on trial// Associated Press, May 30, 2019 https://www.washingtonpost.com/].

Migration can also be a weapon in the political struggle for power:

But when migration becomes a political weapon to foment border chaos, leaders have no choice other than to step in and protect national security [The Caravan to Nowhere // https://www.wsj.com/].

Analysis of the factual data leads to the conclusion that military metaphors characterize migration as the invasion of a certain enemy, which is a threat to society:

Dangerous migrant overcrowding at El Paso border facility //Associated Press, June 1, 2019 https://www.washingtonpost.com/].

The wolf is “dangerous” and “breeds explosively.” The way some politicians talk about wolves sounds a lot like the way they talk about immigrants [Katrin Bennhold, April 24, 2019 https://www.nytimes.com/].

As Migrants Reach U.K. by Boat, Numbers Are Small but Worry Is Big [Richard Pérez-Peña April 24, 2019 https://www.nytimes.com/]

Metaphorical model MIGRANTS-PRODUCT is explicated in the following examples, where the vocabulary denoting commodity-money relations is figuratively used: to manage migration, a caravan with migrants, smugglers bring more migrants:

Under political pressure, Angela Merkel secured the help of the European Commission to call an unusual weekend meeting on how to manage migration [Steven Erlanger. Migration to Europe Is Slowing, but the Political Issue Is as Toxic as Ever // https://www.nytimes.com/].

It was only last week that a caravan with thousands of Central American migrants hunkered down for the night here in Tapachula, in southern Mexico… Now, two more caravans are on their way, as well [https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/31/world/americas/migrant-caravans-border-mexico-usa.html].

Immigration and trade are now closely linked, at least in Mr. Trump’s mind. There lies part of the current caravan crisis. It is not just Trumpian electioneering [Mexico should not consent to do Washington’s dirty work // https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/27/opinion/mexico-caravan-trump-dirty-work.html].

A blog post describes the way that migrant workers, until recently a conspicuous presence in some areas of Beijing, have been cleared away for the time of the Olympics [Diana Fu Aug. 14, 2008 https://kristof.blogs.nytimes.com/].

...encourage smugglers to try their luck at bringing more migrants to the U.K. from France. Authorities said that...[Danica Kirka | AP · Foreign · Jun 2, 2019 https://www.washingtonpost.com/].

This metaphorical model has a negative pragmatic potential and reflects a prudent and indifferent attitude towards migrants.

Analyzing the most common metaphoric models reflecting the image of a migrant in the American media, we can conclude that migration in this country is spontaneous, erratic, as evidenced by the most frequently encountered metaphors of the conceptual sphere “force of nature”. Migrants appear as some kind of uncontrollable mass. These metaphors are used to indicate a huge number of migrants from different countries arriving in America. It can also be concluded that the population of the “melting pot” cogitates more in economic and military metaphors that indicates their pragmatism and confidence in their military power.

1. Arutyunova N. D. Teoriya metafory. M., 1990.-C. 5-32.
2. Budaev E.V. Chudinov A.P. Kognitivno-diskursivnyi analiz metafory v politicheskoi kommunikatsii // Politicheskaya lingvistika, 2008. №26. S. 37-48.
3. Khokhlova I.V. Metafory v migratsionnom diskurse Germanii (na primere soobshchenii o bezhentsakh v period «Arabskoi vesny») // Vestnik KGU im. N.A. Nekrasova, 2014. №1. S.185-188.
4. Fairman B. Newspaper coverage of immigrants in border states during the 2006 midterm election: A Thesis for the degree of Master of Arts.-Baltimore, Maryland, 2007.
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6. Santa Ana O. Immigration as Dangerous Waters/ The Power of Metaphor. From Brown Tide Rising: Metaphors of Latinos in Contemporary Public Discourse. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2002.-405p.
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