We are now well into coding our data, which consists of examining all the words which are contained within more than one area of the Historical Thesaurus database. We are looking for systematic metaphorical links between entire categories, rather than individual metaphors alone.
To give you a flavour of the project data, the overlapping words between Reptiles and Behaviour/conduct and between Reptiles and Place are reproduced below. For Reptiles alone, there were around 300 categories with words overlapping which had to be examined. These are only two of them. There are 410 categories in addition to Reptiles, each of which will again have several hundred sets of overlaps!
So between Reptiles and Behaviour/conduct all the overlapping words are as follows:
|reptilian||aj||1859 + 1888||Ill-willing|
|slough||vt||1845–||Give up a habit/practice|
|slough||n||1583–||..a habit/usual feature cast off|
|soft-shell||aj||1845–1872 US||.that adopts a moderate course/policy|
Not all of these are Reptile words being used in Behaviour (finger, tiger, etc. just happen to be present in both categories), but we can see that many of them are being used in a metaphorical link from reptile > behaviour (‘reptilian’ meaning ill-willing, for example). The link appears to be a systematic one with many overlapping words which are metaphorical between the two categories.
Between Reptiles and Place the overlapping words are as follows:
|fish||vt||1632– also fig.||.from a deep place/water|
|strike||vt||1599 + 1823–||…(as) with a blow|
But these are clearly not metaphorical (at least not Reptile words being used metaphorically within Place, or vice-versa, anyway).
This process of analysis is complex and time-consuming, and few category links are as straight-forward as those in the examples above. However, by the end of the project this analysis should allow us to map the metaphorical connections of the English language from Old English to the present day.