The US intelligence agency IARPA is putting a heavy research focus, not into lie detection or speech recognition, but metaphor.

That’s right, the figure of speech where you describe something as something else. But why would that be useful for national security? What can we learn about human language by studying metaphor?

UWA linguist Daniel Midgley will illuminate the issue (so to speak) on this week’s Talk the Talk.


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Show notes

Some introductory articles:
http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/05/why-are-spy-researchers-building-a-metaphor-program/239402/
http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/jun/05/john-naughton-networker-spooks

Here’s the IARPA call for proposals, if you’re keen (PDF):
http://www.iarpa.gov/Metaphor_Presentations/Metaphor_Proposers_Day_Brief.pdf

Excerpts from “Metaphors We Live By” by Lakoff and Johnson:
http://theliterarylink.com/metaphors.html