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Title: Visual metaphors and the construction of political identities : an analysis of the 2012 Hong Kong Legislative Council Election
Authors: Yap, FH 
Chan, ASL
Issue Date: Jun-2014
Source: The 7th International Conference on Multimodality (7-ICOM), June 11-13, 2014, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong
Abstract: Metaphors are pervasive in political discourse (Semino & Masci 1996; Kuo 2003; Lu & Ahrens 2008; Taskona 2009), in large part because they help convey complex and abstract concepts such as national security, economic and financial policies, international diplomacy and social issues in simpler and more concrete terms that are both appealing and easier to understand for the general public. Previous studies (Forceville 1996; Forceville, Mulken & Pair 2010) have shown that metaphors—both verbal and visual— are widely used in advertising because of their novelty as well as subtlety, which allows them to arrest the attention of viewers/readers and stimulate deep thinking, and thus ostensibly allowing a product to be retained in memory much longer and also in a more favorable light. These attention-getting and subtle qualities of verbal and visual metaphors are highly valuable in political discourse, given that politicians often need to attenuate potential face-threats as they engage in constructing positive political identities for themselves and negative ones for their rivals. In this paper, we will examine the use of visual metaphors in electoral discourse, in particular how these metaphors provide the speaker with a creative means of attenuating otherwise shockingly offensive face-threats to their opponents, and in this way help to maintain the positive self-image of the speaker. Data for our analysis is based on 280 minutes of televised debates during the Hong Kong Legislative Council (LegCo) Election that was organized by Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) from August 18 to September 1, 2012.
Keywords: Visual metaphor
Identity construction
Political discourse
Hong Kong election campaigns
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