Metaphor Lab Amsterdam

Group coordinator


ACLC staff: Romy van den Heerik, Gerard Steen, Jean Wagemans, Corina Andone, José Plug,

ACLC PhD candidate: Gudrun Reijnierse, Dunja Wackers, Kiki Renardel de Lavalette, Andreas Finsen, Jie Fu

ACLC Postdocs: Lotte van Poppel, Roosmaryn Pilgram

External members: Amber Boeynaems , Marianna Bolognesi, Britta Brugman, Christian Burgers, Tina Krennmayer


The program comprises fundamental and applied research that deals with the exploitation of metaphor as a tool of expression, cognition and communication. The program critically engages with present-day claims in the humanities and the social sciences about the alleged powers of metaphor in unconscious cognition (for instance in ‘framing’, storytelling and argumentation, and persuasion and instruction). This also means that the program seeks possibilities for rehabilitating more traditional approaches to metaphor, as in rhetoric, while indicating its potential for application to and intervention in everyday reality.

The research focuses on how metaphorical expression, cognition and communication work in discourse processing, with special attention to the difference between deliberate and non-deliberate metaphor and its actual and potential role in a wide range of situations. We have also created two unique resources: the VU Amsterdam Metaphor Corpus VUAMC, an excerpt from the BNC Baby annotated for metaphor, and the VisMetBaby, a newly built collection of multimodal metaphor annotated for a range of properties.

Our objective is to contribute new insights into the role of metaphor and its use in all sorts of real world contexts, ranging from the first second of utterance comprehension to the extended temporal planes of public debates in the media as well as language acquisition and learning. We also aim to carry out applied research turning these insights into tools for intervening in communicative practices of all sorts in order to examine and ideally improve their effectiveness.

Current research projects

Deliberate metaphor

Metaphor and multimodality

Variation in metaphor

Figurative framing

Metaphor and argumentation



Every year, the Metaphor Lab organizes the Metaphor Festival, a conference on the use of figurative language and other modes of figurative expression.
Bi-weekly research meetings are held on Tuesday mornings from 9 – 11 AM (see calendar on the Metaphor Lab website).

More information about the Metaphor Lab Amsterdam can be found at The center is a joint venture of the Network Institute at VU University Amsterdam and the Amsterdam Center for Language and Communication at the University of Amsterdam and Amsterdam Brain and Cognition (ABC).


Published by  ACLC

31 March 2017