Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Jeannine M. Fontaine, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Michael M. Williamson, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Gary J. Dean, Ph.D.


The study aims to compare and contrast the usage and understanding of English and Arabic metaphors. My research attempts to reveal how similar and different Arab secondary learners of English respond when asked to answer or interpret metaphors in both their native and acquired languages. Furthermore, in this dissertation, I also attempted to address the impact of culture in metaphorical thinking. The study made use of a holistic approach, utilizing textual analysis, conversation meetings, participants’ writings and questionnaire responses. The diversity of these data gathering and analysis techniques have revealed interesting insights into the conceptualization and processing of non-literal language. The research has also disclosed the dominant metaphorical domains within which metaphors discussed by the participants revolve around. Results of the study revealed parallels and divergences in Arabic and English metaphorical usage and comprehension by Arab students. The presence and persistence of both active and dead metaphors in the business discourse of both languages has been observed. Some of the more commonly utilized metaphors included Up and Down and Game / War. I also noted the use of Conceptual metaphor, such as LIFE IS A JOURNEY and TIME IS A COMMODITY, during the course of the study. In terms of numbers and idiosyncratic diversity, Arabic falls below English. Moreover, the cultural undertones of these metaphors were also taken into account. Lack of mastery of the non-literal possibilities of the English language was highlighted as a culprit behind the confusion encountered by Arab students in expressing themselves metaphorically in English, as well as in understanding English metaphor. This revelation has serious bearing for academe, particularly those in the profession of teaching English to non-native speakers. Devising programs by which these students could gain exposure to basic and ubiquitous English metaphor might be of value. The results of the study also have bearing on business, as the study centered on metaphor on the theme of business. Firms that hire foreign workers might find it advantageous to adopt programs aimed at instilling sensitivity to cultural and linguistic diversity among its employees. This will expose employees to one another’s non-literal language, as well as imparting to them the metaphors most frequently used in the organization.