In “Conceptual Metaphor in Everyday Language,” Lakoff and Johnson suggest that conceptual metaphors pervade everyday language and produce the reality of our world. Conceptual metaphors act similarly within the occupational register of political campaigns in that they both support and construct a set of beliefs that become the reality of politicians, political parties, and constituents. In this language research, the conceptual metaphors employed by Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin during his 2021 gubernatorial campaign were identified, analyzed, and categorized. The corpus of this research consists of two gubernatorial debates, three campaign speeches, and one television interview. An example of conceptual metaphor usage by Youngkin, is his use of POLICY IS WEAPON as in (1):
“I'm gonna protect the right to work and Terry McAuliffe is gonna get rid of it and it's gonna be the death blow for Virginia.” (Youngkin, 2021)
Results show POLITICS IS WAR and its subset of systematic conceptual metaphors is employed by Youngkin to perform face-threatening acts against his opponent. Additional evidence supports the claim that conceptual metaphor usage as a persuasive device in campaign register relies heavily on both a systematicity of metaphorical concepts and cultural coherence. Lastly, Youngkin’s use of metaphors to discuss the economy, suggests an intentional shift in register from a financial occupational register to a situational register. This shift represents a cognizance of discontinuity between his cultural common ground and his audience, meaning that this specific usage of conceptual metaphors is employed with the primary motivation of expanding audience comprehension.
Hotaling, Sara Rose, "Conceptual Metaphor Usage In Glenn Youngkin’s 2021 Gubernatorial Campaign" (2023). Political Science & Geography Faculty Publications. 54.
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