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The Falling In Love Metaphor


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The metaphors we use are very helpful.

But only if we pay attention to them.

Most of the time, metaphors are used only to make sure we are talking about the same thing.

And most of the time, nearly all of these metaphors are used unconscious.

Our language is filled with metaphorical expressions of unknown origins.

It's easy to see why.

Somebody says something, metaphorically, to mean something.

It sounds pretty cool, so everybody else starts to use it.

Metaphorical expressions can exist in spoken language for a long time before being written down.

So by the time they appear in print, nobody really knows the how that particular metaphor was created.

There is no evidence.

Some examples are statements like, "raining cats and dogs."

Everybody knows that means raining very hard.

But nobody knows WHEN people started saying that.

Or why they, and everybody heard them understand that raining cats and dogs MEANT raining very hard.

Sure, there are plenty of theories.

And if you took a vote, there would be one theory that was preferred over all theories.

But without any EVIDENCE of when and why that was first used, it's really just a guess.

Just because everybody likes one particular reason doesn't mean it's true.

Stephen Pinker points that we have many, many phrases like this in English.

Phrases where everybody KNOWS, but nobody knows WHY those phrases mean those things.

And because they are only spoken, sometimes for decades or even CENTURIES, it is IMPOSSIBLE to find the origin of those statements.

Cocktail, kick the bucket, there are phrases that we know the meaning, but not the origin.

In a sense, these exist in our brains as DEFINITIONS.

"kick the bucket = die."

"bucket list = something you do before you die."

Because they exist in our brains that way, we don't NEED to know the origins.

Other metaphors are interesting, but for different reasons.

One is the intangible nouns we use.

We use them AS IF they were real objects.

I'm "in" a meeting.

What, exactly IS a meeting?

A shared hallucination.

Sure, there's a table, some chairs, papers, phones, coffee machines, but the meeting itself is an intangible noun.

But we say IN a meeting indicates that our ancient monkey brains think of a meeting AS IF it were some kind of container.

What other intangible nouns are containers?


As in "I'm in love."

Or, "I think I'm falling in love with you."

If you've ever BEEN in love, AND you've ever jumped from a very high point, you know this is accurate.

Falling due to gravity and falling due to a sudden emotional connection to somebody feels very much the same.

If you want to fall due to gravity, it's pretty easy.

But what if you want to fall due to love?

What then?

Here's What:


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