Title

Weaponization: Ubiquity and Metaphorical Meaningfulness

Abstract

Conceptual metaphor theory implies that ubiquitous metaphors become mere descriptions or concepts if they are not embedded in competing discursive communities. This paper demonstrates that weaponiz- retained its meaningfulness after becoming ubiquitous despite being used by all sides in contemporary contentious politics. Because metaphors derive their figurativeness through tension, weaponiz- shows that temporality, or social time, can be marshaled to contrast an unpleasant "now" with a better "past." This metaphoricity stands in contrast to the word's conceptual origins in the Cold War defense industry as a literal description of the logistical deployment of weapons systems. As the word's use mutated into a metaphor around 2003, it took on its contemporary moral meaning of over-politicizing things that had been, and should remain, neutral or peaceful. By 2017 "the weaponization of everything" implied that all aspects of social life were newly embroiled in illegitimate politics, making the metaphor a profound act of nostalgia that erased even recent conflicts. This paper thus adds temporal rhetorical tension as one of the ways that metaphors can retain meaningfulness through a case study of a metaphor that arose only recently, demonstrating the usefulness of diachronic analyses of novel metaphor emergence.

Publisher

Routledge

Publication Date

10-1-2020

Publication Title

Metaphor and Symbol

Department

Sociology

Additional Department

Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies

Document Type

Article

DOI

10.1080/10926488.2020.1810577

Keywords

Sociology, Argument, Career

Language

English

Format

text

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