DOI: 10.1515/sem-2023-0042 ISSN: 0037-1998

Tropes and play: a new account on embodied figures of thought

Jan Söffner
  • Literature and Literary Theory
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Language and Linguistics


This paper aims at expanding theories of metaphorical reasoning to other tropes. Asking why figurative language tends to fall into a limited number of patterns, it first examines approaches that offer an answer – ranging from antique rhetoric theory, Hans Blumenberg, Harald Weinrich, Donald Davidson, and Roman Jakobson to George Lakoff and Mark Johnson. By then turning to Giambattista Vico, it puts forth the argument that a limited set of pre-structured ways of embodied reasoning is hard-wired in and enacted by different aspects of children’s ways of playing – and provides the foundation for structures of thinking in the adult life.