The goal of the project was to conduct a systematic in-depth analysis, from a cross-linguistic and cross-cultural perspective, of the linguistic and psychological aspects involved in the use of figurative language, focussing on expressions such as, but not limited to, metaphors, similes, oxymorons, analogies, proverbs and idioms.
This study made use of methodologies developed within cognitive science during the last two decades for the linguistic and psychological study of metaphor; these methodologies were applied to various aspects of figurative language in Malay/Indonesian, in other languages of Indonesia, and cross-linguistically. The general goal was to map out and explore, using comparable methodologies, the universalities and diversities across languages and cultures in the use of figurative language. The project was divided into three sub-projects which were being pursued simultaneously:
- Figurative Language in Texts. This sub-project involved the investigation of figurative language in Malay/Indonesian and in other languages of Indonesia as manifest in texts of different kinds, including both written and oral, artistic and everyday.
- Cognitive Aspects of Metaphor Use. This sub-project consisted of a series of experiments, based on well established experimental paradigms, for examining aspects of the comprehension and possibly also production of figurative language, by speakers of Malay/Indonesian.
- Typological Aspects of Figurative Language. This sub-project involved the study of certain specific instantiations of figurative language from a broader cross-linguistic perspective, aiming for a world-wide sample that is balanced geographically, genealogically and typologically.