Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Money, Metaphorically Speaking

We all use metaphors more than we realize, observes David Brooks in his New York Times column.
When talking about time, we often use money metaphors. But when talking about money, we rely on liquid metaphors. We dip into savings, sponge off friends or skim funds off the top. Even the job title stockbroker derives from the French word brocheur, the tavern worker who tapped the kegs of beer to get the liquidity flowing.

The psychologist Michael Morris points out that when the stock market is going up, we tend to use agent metaphors, implying the market is a living thing with clear intentions. We say the market climbs or soars or fights its way upward. When the market goes down, on the other hand, we use object metaphors, implying it is inanimate. The market falls, plummets or slides.

Who says down markets can't be animated? Sometimes, like today, the market loses confidence and slumps. Once in a while it emulates a NASCAR neophyte and crashes.

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