A Cognitive Linguistic Approach to the Study of Metaphors in the Language of Computer Hardware and Software
Ondu, Joshua Mbogha
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The study is a cognitive approach to the analysis of metaphorical expressions that are used in computers. Cognitive scientists have noted the important role of prior knowledge in acquiring new knowledge. Computers have relied on the use of existing language to name its different concepts. These concepts have been presented in metaphorical ways which is the basis for this study. The study identified the metaphorical expressions used in computers. The objectives of the study entailed the analysis of computer metaphors in terms of the target and source domains; identification and analysis of computer metaphors that were successful and those that were unsuccessful in relating to the real life language use, and finally the identification of cases of misinterpretation of expressions used in computers. The theory used in the study was the Conceptual Metaphor Theory. A computer consists of hardware and software. With regards to software, the study focused on Operating System and Application Software. Data was obtained from 20 online computer articles where metaphorical expressions were identified using a procedure known as the Metaphor Identification Procedure Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam (MIPVU). The researcher identified 10 expressions each from computer hardware and computer software. A questionnaire was issued to 50 respondents who included students and lecturers. The respondents were drawn from two selected educational institutions where 25 were sampled from the Institute of Advanced Technology in Nairobi (IAT) and a similar number from Kenyatta University (KU), Main Campus. The researcher used both qualitative and quantitative research designs as well as the descriptive research design. In terms of the sampling design, the researcher used the Stratified Random Sampling and purposive sampling. Consequently, the findings and the analysis of the study were presented using figures and tables. SPSS was used for the analysis of the data for the third objective. The study noted that the Conceptual Metaphor Theory was applicable in the analysis and description of metaphors in computers in terms of their target and source domains. The analysis was done in a uni-directional way as well as in a one-to-one fashion where the mappings were done from the source domain to the target domain. This is the principle governing the analysis of metaphors using the Conceptual Metaphor Theory. The findings showed that there were a number of metaphors which were successful and those which were not successful in relation to how the concepts were close to the words in real language use or not. The Port, Plug and Play, Host and Repeater metaphors were classified as unsuccessful while the rest were successful. The researcher during the analysis, noted that there were cases of misinterpretations of expressions. These misinterpretations lead to lots of confusion amongst users if they do not relate the concepts at hand to the contexts in which they are used. In terms of the metaphors which were analyzed as misinterpreted, the bus and card metaphors had 26.7% each of the responses, repeater had 26.6%, and the processor, window and sleep metaphors had a response rate of 20.0% in each vi case. The study is intended to contribute to the development of metaphors in the area of cognitive linguistics and the linguistic theory. It will also contribute to the studies on language in technology. The researcher recommends that a study should be done to ascertain if all the words, phrases and expressions used in computer hardware and software are metaphorical or if some are not. Further research should be done on how metaphors have been used in the other areas in ICT such as internet, networking, programming and databases. Finally, a study should be done to ascertain and analyze how metaphors have been used in the social media in the areas such as Twitter, Telegram, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, amongst others.