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How metaphor shaped eighteenth century botanical terminology in French


Metaphor has played an important part in establishing the terminology of emerging disciplines. This is illustrated by an analysis of botanical terminology in French, which took shape as a science rather than a practice in the eighteenth century. Many basic metaphors already in use concerning the decription of plants were in fact transmitted from the ancient world and translated when French became the vehicle of scientific investigation. The corpus used to document the development of metaphoric conceptualisation in botany was made up of the two French scientific journals (articles on botany) and the two main encyclopaedic dictionaries of the period. It is shown that on the one hand formal metaphors continued to be created but, on the other, that substantial framing was also taking place whereby the understanding of the functioning of plants, their nutrition and reproduction, was carried out using analogy with animal and, more particularly, human anatomy. These metaphorical terms are integrated into the specialised vocabulary, paving the way for scientific categorisation. Thus metaphor, combined with other linguistic operations such as nominalisation and the formation of suffixes, contributes to the cognitive structuring of a new domain.
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hal-03322717 , version 1 (19-08-2021)


  • HAL Id : hal-03322717 , version 1


John Humbley, Claudio Grimaldi. How metaphor shaped eighteenth century botanical terminology in French. Variations on Metaphor, edited by Ilaria Rizzato, Francesca Strik Lievers, Elisabetta Zurru, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, pp.128-142, 2021, 1-5275-7209-9. ⟨hal-03322717⟩
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