‘Black hole’ is a metaphor used to describe a particular area of space. The purpose of this article is to show how such metaphors are used by science writers to explain the incomprehensible in terms of the comprehensible. Knowledge about black holes is outside of ordinary experience, hence the metaphor is theory-constitutive (Boyd 1993) it is part of the technical vocabulary of science itself. By using a metaphor, scientists enable the layperson to relate vast concepts of time and space to something in everyday experience, so that we may begin to learn about -if never fully understand –these phenomena. The article looks at a range of structural, image-schematic and ontological metaphors, based on a corpus of 10 articles from the New Scientist magazine, published between December 2017 -October 2018. Black holes are personified and talked about in terms of human actions: they ‘eat’, ‘devour’ and‘spew’ matter. Spatially, they are containers from which hardly anything ever escapes. Black hole: ‘the perfect metaphor for a bottomless well in space’ (Jones 1983,5). JONES’ USE OF a metaphor to describe a metaphor neatly pinpoints the difficulty of conceptualizing the true nature of a black hole. Ten articles from The New Scientist, dated December 2017 to October 2018(corpus), reveal the metaphors used to conceptualize black holes.1The articles show that Lakoff and Johnson’s 1980 cognitive theory of metaphor is correct, for, without the use of metaphors, the ability to conceptualize a black hole would be limited.1All unreferenced quotations come from this corpus.
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