Metaphors in Hugo Chávez's political discourse: conceptualizing nation, revolution and opposition

Marco A Aponte Moreno

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


    This dissertation examines Hugo Chávez's choice of metaphors in his efforts to construct and legitimize his Bolivarian Revolution. It focuses on metaphors drawn from three of the most frequent target domains present in his discourse: the nation, his revolution, and the opposition. The study argues that behind an official discourse of inclusion, Chávez's choice of metaphors contributes to the construction of a polarizing discourse of exclusion in which his political opponents are represented as enemies of the nation.The study shows that Chávez constructs this polarizing discourse of exclusion by combining metaphors that conceptualize: (a) the nation as a person who has been resurrected by his government, as a person ready to fight for his revolution, or as Chávez himself; (b) the revolution as war; and (c) members of the opposition as war combatants or criminals. At the same time, the study shows that by making explicit references in his discourse about the revolution as the continuation of Bolívar's wars of independence, Chávez contributes to represent opponents as enemies of the nation, given that in the Venezuelan collective imaginary Simón Bolívar is the symbol of the nation's emancipation.This research, which covers a period of nine years (from Chávez's first year in office in 1999 through 2007), is part of the discipline of Political Discourse Analysis (PDA). It is anchored both in the theoretical framework provided by the cognitive linguistic metaphor theory developed by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson described in their book Metaphors We Live By, and in Critical Metaphor Analysis (CMA) as defined by Jonathan Charteris-Black in his book Corpus Approaches to Critical Metaphor Analysis.The study provides the first comprehensive analysis of metaphors used by Chávez in his political discourse. It builds upon the findings of previous studies on political discourse analysis in Venezuela by showing that Chávez's discourse not only polarizes the country and represents opponents as detractors of national symbols such as Bolívar or his wars of independence (which have been clearly established in previous studies), but also represents political opponents as enemies of the nation.
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • City University of New York
    Publication statusPublished - 2008

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    • Hugo Chávez
    • metaphors
    • revolution
    • polarization
    • conceptualization
    • Simon Bolivar
    • cognitive linguistic metaphor theory
    • Mark Johnson
    • ctitical metaphor analysis
    • corpus approaches to critical metaphor analysis
    • Bolivarian Revolution
    • nation
    • opposition
    • polarizing discourse
    • Venezuelan
    • political discourse analysis
    • George Lakoff
    • metaphors we live by
    • Johnathan Charteis-Black


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