Organizes, informs 
   the unk web_ttfiles\ttSource_and_Target.htm Take previous examples (garden The use of metaphor in mediati Although not noticed before th Notes for exercises:

Exercise bodymovement_new3.htm The Source Domain is opened by Let me repeat that most metaph The Target Domain is what is b

Example of Target and Source

A Career is Metaphorically Understood as a Journey

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My career is at a crossroads.

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Organizes, informs
the unknown
in terms of
the known.
Transfers content,
scope, logic,
Makes the Target
understood as
if it were like
the Source.



Take previous examples (gardening, ice hockey, war-competition-journey) and identify Target and Source Domains:

When a mediator was working with disputants of the use of land in Canada, and he noticed that they readily used the terminology of ice hockey to respond to comments.

In the case of a divorcing couple, feeling hurt and lost, and talking to them in terms of planting the seeds for the next phase of their lives...

In the case of the couple where the Mom thought of herself inside the home and the Dad argued for moving on with life...



The use of metaphor in mediation can be thought of in terms of which of the two Domains to focus on.

The Target Domain is the key to the Operating Metaphor (the metaphors clients are using naturally). The Source Domain is the key to the Guiding Metaphor (those introducted by a mediator as an intervention). However, these two types may represent ends of a continuum.

Obtrusive-Unobtrusive Intervention:

How active and guiding does the mediator wish to be? The mode of using metaphor will strongly influence this. How jarring or "foreign" is the Source Domain? If it is essentially the one the client is already using, it will hardly be noticed as an intervention if the mediator joins the client using that particular Source. If it is similar it may also be very unobtrusive. If it is very different, the client must shift gears to accomodate it, and this would be more obtrusive.

Let us explore the distinction between an intervention that is unobtrusive and unnoticed:
"Unobtrusive" is meant to identify the quality of being not pushy, not directive, and particularly that it allows the client to follow his or her own intentions without interference; this does not rule out helpfulness, gentle guidance, providing information or points of view.
"Unnoticed" has to do with whether the client is aware of the mediator's words, responses, or influence. So a mediator could conceivably be unnoticed but quite obtrusive (guiding and helpful in a way that is either subliminal or so ordinary not to be noticed), or noticed and quite unobtrusive (dramatic, entertaining or opinionated in a way that the client immediately and calmly rejects or ignors).
"Influence"... following path indicated...
"Converging" vs. "Diverging"... focusing or limiting scope of options vs. widening the scope or range...

Compare to various mediator meta-goals: managing the process, managing conflict, empowering clients, compassionately connecting at the heart, etc.

- for using Source Domain

- for using Target Domain

- for detecting metaphors

Correspondence Mappings

Although not noticed before the metaphor is active (and the Source Domain "open"), other factors, objects, actions, and relationships from the Source Domain will be transferred to the Target (Correspondence Mappings).

Here is one way this may work. A person notices a pattern in the current situation (Target Domain), depicted in the diagram as the knobed triangle, which resembles a pattern remembered from another (better-known, physically experienced, vivid or practiced past) experience (Source Domain). We might say at that point that a "mental space" has been opened or triggered as attention focuses on the Source Domain.

Once the Source Domain is triggered, more detail or other aspects (entailments), patterns, relationships, logic, inferences, etc., are noticed which are part of the Source Domain, depicted in the diagram as the colored shapes. If they might fit the Target Domain, this knowledge is mapped across from the Source to the Target Domain.

If the individual does this transfer outside of conscious awareness, he or she may regard the transferred knowledge as being "true" of the Target Domain. If the transfer is made with some conscious awareness, the knowledge may be regarded as a hunch, idea or hypothesis.

Additional Comments:

Borbely (2004) clarifies the differences between source and target domains of both metaphor and of metonymy. He also extends the principles of conceptual metaphor (usually discussed in linguistic and cognitive realms) to the psychodynamic realm, in which he includes thought and emotions both present and past, synchronically and diachronically. This permits consideration of, for example, a target domain consisting of an interpersonal relationship in the present and the source domain consisting of a corresponding relationship from one's family of origen in the past. When the individual neurotically treats the present situation as if it were the past one, s/he is understanding the present metonymically as the past, letting the past situation "stand for" the present, and is inhibited from letting the present inform the past or vice versa. Therapy would be intended to make the metonymy evident to the individual and ultimately "re-metaphorize" the source as a separate domain that the present one can become understood "in terms of." The therapeutic intervention is not fully discussed by Borbely, but it is understood to require psychoanalytic interpretive skill because the initially rigid metonymy defends the individual from the considerable pain and anxiety of early trauma.

The theory of cognitive metaphor has an important contraint -- termed the invariance principal -- that mapping across will occur only to the extent that there is structural isomorphism between the Source and Target Domains. That is, if aspects of the Source Domain simply do not fit in the Target Domain they will not be transferred. For example: "John lumbered into the room" takes the Source Domain of a large animal walking (perhaps a bear or elephant) and maps it to John's manner of entering the room; however, a fury body or a trunk does not get mapped across.


Notes for exercises:

Exercises in detecting presence of a Source Domain (a domain substantially different from Target):
Detecting that metaphor is present so that you can make the simple distinction between Source and Target domains (and give the metaphor a shorthand name -- Source is Target) can proceed by asking yourself the following questions:
Is there incongruity in use of words, surprise or unexpected terms? [see Uncovering Metaphor]
Is emotion elicited by what was said? Is it from another domain? [see Charteris-Black]
Is there any sense of evaluation or judgment? Is it from another domain?
Does what was said seem to move in or point to a certain direction? [Schon]
Given what was said, would it seem normal to do a certain kind of thing, proceed in a certain direction?
Is there a gap in logic or understanding that is somehow filled in by what is not said?
Are there Agents, Affected Entities, Force or Movement, Locations, Obstacles, Possessions, starting or destination points that are alluded to? Any of these suggest the existence of any of the others.
Are sequences, processes, events talked about as things or objects (reification)?
Are people talked about as animals or plants; or vice versa?
Is a general case spoken of strictly in terms of a specific instance (General is Specific metaphor)?


The above gives you conscious, cognitive awareness of Source and Target domains -- and this distinction makes you aware of linguistic and pragmatic aspects of the metaphor -- such that you may now begin to explore more systematically a person's subjective interpretation. You can intervene by asking questions of the client, the responses to which can reveal the subjectivities that motivate the use of the metaphor in the first place (since metaphors arouse emotion, express evaluation, direction, etc. when we detect metaphoric understanding of emotion, evaluation, direction, etc. we can then intervene in terms of the structure of that metaphor to explore, increase, redirect, or challenge the emotion, evaluation, direction, etc. Such interventions may most often take the general form of "What do you mean by (x choice of words)?" But specific forms may be statements, comparisons, linkages, questions of degree, choice or direction that take up matters of process, product, what, how or why and employ literal or any and all of the varieties of figurative language:
How does (x choice of words) apply to (target)?
I didn't expect you to use that word...
Does that word you used particularly ring a bell for you?
In what ways does (x word) particularly characterize this situation?
Does seeing the situation in terms of (x words that ring a bell, etc.) persuade you in particular direction?





Range of Sources


Source Domain

The Source Domain is opened by introducing a Metaphor. The Metaphor is "apt" to the degree that it has corresponding elements and relationships. Once this better-known, physically experienced, vivid or practiced Source Domain is opened,
transfer occurs back to the Target Domain.

Source Domain and Target Domain

Let me repeat that most metaphor is unconscious, particularly the conventional (widely shared) metaphors that account for common sense understanding. To develop facility in the use of metaphor we want to become more conscious of this process. What will help bring it more into conscious awareness is to learn to distinguish Source and Target domains readily.

Metaphor organizes the lesser-known usually more abstract (Target Domain) in terms of the better-known usually more directly and concretely experienced (Source Domain).

One concept, situation or domain is used metaphorically to describe or understand the contents, scope, interactions and logic of something else. So, if someone said "He sniffed around for the latest gossip"… or poked around… "sniffing" and "poking" bring to our attention actual experience in doing these things, and entail experiences of using the sense of smell to detect things… or using your hand or a stick to poke into places you can't readily see…

Besides a Source Domain being physically experienced, it can also come from shared cultural understanding:
"Cultural understandings enter the use of metaphors in [another way] that depends on their intentional selection. Metaphors are commonly employed in ordinary speech to clarify to their audiences points that speakers are trying to convey. This communication task depends on knowledge that the audience can be counted on to share intersubjectively with the speaker. Cultural knowledge is reliably so
shared. A common misconception has been that metaphoric target domains are less well understood, perhaps because they are abstract or intangible or unseen or unfamiliar, and that metaphoric source domains are better understood (e.g., Lakoff and Turner 1989), perhaps because they are physical in nature or otherwise concretely experienced. Rather, metaphors intended for clarification are typically selected from among cultural exemplars of that feature of the target domain under discussion (Glucksberg 1991; Quinn 1997). Indeed, this is how metaphors do their work of clarifying, by introducing an outstanding and unambiguous instance of the point being made." (Quinn, Mitechs Cog Sci Encyclopedia, p.538)

Metaphor transfers understanding from the better-known "Source" to the lesser-known "Target". (See Transfer of Understanding, on this
page below.) The three mediation functions of
Listening, Questioning, and Extending are also very relevant here,
including the related How to Look, Listen, How to Form Questions, and
How To Extend Metaphors.

Awareness of Target and Source Domain – A Tool in Active Listening and Reframing:
Simply becoming aware of conceptual metaphor in this way is useful to the mediator. Awareness of metaphor serves the active listening feedback function (Kovach, 2000). Having detected this operating metaphor the mediator might reframe Mother’s concern in terms of Father’s “focus” rather than, say, his knowledge, intelligence or good sense. “Reframing”, or restating issues to make them easier to resolve (Moore, 1996), is another basic mediator technique that can profit from this attention to metaphor.
Having detected a disputant’s metaphor, how might the mediator usethis to respond? We can get some ideas from linguistic analysis of psychotherapeutic discourse (Ferrara, 1994) where distinct levels of responses to client metaphor have been found: (1) recognizing it but not commenting on it, (2) recognizing it and ratifying it by reflecting back or repeating some of the client's metaphoric language, (3) misinterpreting the metaphor (which might elicit a correction from the client), and (4) elaborating or extending the client metaphor(s) jointly through interaction, constructing chains and layers of meaning based on the metaphor. The mediator might also form questions. With only an elementary level of metaphor-awareness, the mediator could do any or all of the following and watch this disputant for signs of rapport or engagement:
· Simply reflect using words evoking the same metaphor (for example, “So you see things that he doesn’t seem to see”).
· Refer to some of the automatic entailments of the metaphor (“Itsounds as though you think he isn’t focusing on the right things”).
· Extend the metaphor in terms of its various facets (such as point of view, angle, light, clarity, scope; for example, “Would you suggest getting up closer or standing back?”).
· Extend through thematic dialogue (“Let’s talk about what each of you might watch for.”)
· Or, if none of these elicit easy rapport on the subject being discussed, clarify with a direct question whether the “seeing” metaphor is actually germane (“Are you saying that he doesn’t seem to be looking at the right things or he sees them through a filter?”), or a deliberate misinterpretation (“Does he have good eyesight?”).
The mediator, while trying such responses, will be observing closely to see if the communication is making sense to the disputant. Indications would include changes in facial expression, eye contact, picking up on points mentioned, using similar language, or offering corrections.

Target Domain

The Target Domain is what is being focused on now. What is of concern is within this domain - the situation you face and are trying to understand. It is generally less well understood, is subjectively experienced and involves abstract concepts.

The source-target domain distinction is not always easy. More examples at each stage of explanation would help. This suggests that, besides introductory examples, during the explanation of source and target consider the following:

- when the triangle is shown in both domains, give an example of the what the triangle might be (vision example: person says "seeing" and this triggers the source domain of vision in which one sees);
- when the additional shapes appear in the source, continue the example of what they could represent (eyes, light, direct view, obstructions, focus...);
- in "push" example, note that that word is the trigger, opening the source domain; within source domain is notion of physically pushing; the source domain entails force [soft, hard...], movement...;
- in one-sentence examples, after going through once to illustrate incongruous language that triggers source domain, have another pass that asks for identification of target and source domains more explicitly, notes triggering word, reviews what is entailed in source domain;
- after examples, note differences between source and target domains, and go to "differences" screen.


Identify the Target Domain and the Source Domain:

"If I choose this alternative,

what seeds will I be planting for the future?"


"Let's finish with this divorce and get on with our lives."


"You entered the crease and I'm calling a foul."