A crosslinguistic look at how metaphor, manner, and aspect propel polititians through campaign races

Abstract

Before an election, voters are inundated with messages about candidates running for office. Our work examines the influence of metaphor in messages about political races. Of special interest is the role of manner of motion (e.g., slow, fast) and aspect (e.g., perfective, imperfective) in messages that include motion metaphors (e.g., “Candidate A raced/was racing ahead of Candidate B” and “Candidate A inched/was inching ahead of Candidate B”). We discuss results from our experiments with English and Russian speakers. In line with our predictions, manner of motion and aspect were found to interact in interesting ways, and to systematically influence opinions about who is likely to win an election. These novel results have valuable theoretical and practical implications for political communication and how people conceptualize political elections, and expand prior work on framing effects in political talk, especially motion metaphors and grammatical aspect (Fausey & Matlock, 2010; Matlock, 2012).


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