Setting the stage with metaphor

Metaphors enable business communicators to bring colour, life and drama to their work.


Figurative expressions are generally accepted as a way of strengthening business communication, whether written or verbal. A prime example of figurative expression is metaphor, which is the transference of a word from one context into another and the basis for the metaphor is an act of either comparison or resemblance.

Some of these metaphoric expressions, the so-called standard or ‘dead’ metaphors like cut prices, advertising campaign or team player, have been used for a long time and language experts consider them as natural as other language chunks (in language studies, ‘chunks’ are several words that are customarily used together in a fixed expression). New metaphors are created daily: these are called novel or ‘living’ metaphors. Some of them are frequently repeated and with time they become standard metaphors, while others are quickly forgotten. What is interesting, however, is the fact that users of business English can easily understand their figurative meaning.

Elzbieta Jendrych

Dr Elżbieta Jendrych is the director of the postgraduate programme in business studies in English and the head of the Languages Centre at Kozminski University, Warsaw. Her research interest includes business terminology, figurative language in business communication, parametric text analysis and corpus studies. She is the author and co-author of 12 academic books and numerous articles on corpus studies, business English and evaluating materials for English for Specific Purposes.