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Form, Function and Meaning of Metaphor in Taylor

Swifts Song Titled Sparks Fly

Rizkah Hayati B
E1D 012 064
VI A Reg. Pagi

English Department
Faculty of Teacher Training and Education
University of Mataram

According to Lakoff and Johnson in their book, Metaphors We Live By, and Aristotle
in traditional understanding, metaphor is an understanding and experiencing one kind of thing
in terms of another. In other words, Aristotle said that a metaphor is consists in giving the
thing a name that belongs to something else or on the ground of analogy. Meanwhile, Lakoff
assume that metaphors are not just part of literal language but also of common language.
Metaphors are not just part of the language but even their main source is actually
language because people communicate via language and communication is a conceptual
system under that people think and act. Communication, based on Wikipedia, is adapted from
Latin word, commnicre, means "to share" which is the activity of conveying information
through the exchange of thoughts, messages, or information, as by speech, visuals, signals,
written, or behaviour. Nowadays, communication via language not only occur between one
speaker to another in real conversation activity in spoken, but also paradoxically between a
writer through his book to his reader in written, and also a singer or song writer through his
songs to his listener in both written and spoken way.
Songs in our life now, are one of the tools in order to communicate the feeling or even
thought which owned by the song writers and the singers of the songs. Since long time ago,
songs were written and being wrote of such structure of sentences to expressing idea which is
intended to mean for the hearer. Some of the way to expressing the idea in song sentences
construction is through idiom and figurative language. Metaphor is one of figurative
languages which commonly used in song lyric.
This paper is aimed to study why metaphorical expression is used and also in what
forms of the metaphor is exist and what is the meaning of it in song lyric. In this case, the
writer chooses Taylor Swifts song titled Sparks Fly to be examined.

Lakoff and Johnson in their influential book, Metaphors We Live By, proposed a
theory that metaphors are not constrained to poetic language, but are also part of everyday
language. In this sense, they claimed that metaphor is not only a stylistic feature of language
but also an essential process of human thought and conceptualisation.
Matthews (1997) state a definition about metaphor which is a figure of speech in
which a word or an expression normally used of one kind of object, action, etc in extented on
another. To know how a metaphor works, we need to know also three term used in constitute
it, those are: topic (tenor), vehicle, and ground. Topic is the subject of metaphor which is
intented to expressed, vehicle is another idea to describe the subject and ground is similarities
hold by both of tenor and vehicle as analogies.
Metaphor then is structurally mapping from one concept to another domain concept.
There are two general types of metaphor which is commonly used as expression; those are
Live metaphor and Dead metaphor.
Live metaphor is illustrate as an idea which is decorative and catch the audiences
attention. It sustains its value as metaphorical expression even sometimes with irrelevant
existence of tenor and other terms of metaphor construction as vehicle and ground. Live
metaphor, if we see from the division we get from the classification made by Crystal, it
divided into three divisions, those are: Conceptual metaphor, Mixed metaphor and Poetic
Metaphor (1992).
a. Conceptual Metaphor
As explain earlier, this type of metaphor is the form which traditionally
takes the first subject as a second subject. The first subject and the second
subject are alike in certain way so that it used in the same expression. The first

subject being described here because of particular aspect owned by the second
subject is used to strengthen the first subject description.
b. Mixed metaphor
Mixed metaphor is the combination of more than one metaphor which
enforcedly put together and indeed intended to be not make sense. With
incoherent element as the result of applying more than one metaphor to one
idea (Holman, 2004)
c. Poetic metaphor
The last type of metaphor in division of live metaphor here is Poetic
metaphor which is a sequence of metaphor comes from extremely different
idea and parallel among things and object used as expression. According to
Boulton, this type of metaphor is created by using a main subject with more
than one subsidiary subjects. The main subject means an analogy expressing
the idea, and comes first in the sequence of sentence construction. While
subsidiary subjects are the analogies which help audience in imagining the
main subject. It is under the same scope but often shifting into one another
Meanwhile, another types of metaphor in general is when a metaphor has been so
common in use and unnoticed when it used though, it called Dead metaphor (conventional).
It has lost its freshness as a figurative language, value, and being structured effortlessly. Dead
metaphor is used because of the non-trouble content in express the idea through original word
or language.
Ortony (1993) proposed that there are three function of metaphor in three hypothesis;
inexpressibility, compactness, and vividness. In the first there is inexpressibility hypothesis.
That means that metaphors are used for expressions that are not easy to explain with literal

language. This refers mostly to abstract ideas. The next hypothesis is compactness hypothesis.
This hypothesis says that people can express ideas more detailed and compact with
metaphors just by using one word which includes these characteristics compactly. Then, the
last hypothesis, vividness hypothesis, it says that by metaphors, expressions are made clearer
and livened up. It represents a both positive and bad experience in a more vivid and clearer

This data is taken from azlyrics.com which shows the lyric of Taylor Swifts song
titled Sparks Fly
1. The way you move is like a full on rainstorm
2. And I'm a house of cards
3. You're the kind of reckless
4. That should send me running
5. But I kind of know that I won't get far
6. And you stood there in front of me
7. Just close enough to touch
8. Close enough to hope you couldn't see
9. What I was thinking of
10. Drop everything now
11. Meet me in the pouring rain
12. Kiss me on the sidewalk, Take away the pain
13. 'cause I see sparks fly whenever you smile
14. Get me with those green eyes, baby, as the lights go down
15. Give me something that'll haunt me when you're not around
16. My mind forgets to remind me
17. You're a bad idea
18. You touch me once and it's really something,
19. You find I'm even better than you imagined I would be.
20. I'm on my guard for the rest of the world
21. But with you I know it's no good
22. And I could wait patiently but I really wish you would
23. I run my finger through your hair and watch the lights go wild.
24. Just keep on keeping your eyes on me, it's just wrong enough to make it feel right.
25. And lead me up the staircase
26. Won't you whisper soft and slow?
27. I'm captivated by you, baby, like a firework show


a. Conceptual Metaphor
As the explanation earlier, conceptual metaphor can be state the first subject
as a second subject. In this case, the writer found some of conceptual metaphor
example from the data.
1. The way you move is like a full on rainstorm
2. And Im a house of cards
17. Youre a bad idea
27. Im captivated by you, baby, like a firework show.
From these data, as we can see that in every line the song writer compare
the first subject and the second as the same. For example, in the first line, the phrase
the way you move is made the same with second subject a full on rainstorm. So
does with second line I and a house of cards and 17th line you and bad idea.
1. The way you move is like a full on rainstorm
The word move means if a position of something is change and it does not
remain still. But in this line, someones move being describe as a full on rainstorm
which means a fall of a very heavy rain complete with the thunder and lightning in
meaning of the attitude of the one is troublesome, over do, and soon.
2. Im a house of cards
The word house means a building in which people live, usually the people
belonging to one family. Meanwhile card means a piece of stiff paper or thin
cardboard on which something is written or printed. The partial meaning of card is a
thin object which easy to brake and ripped off. So it means she considered herself as
cards made into a house form which in reality easy to break with just one blow of
17. Youre a bad idea

The word idea means an opinion or belief about what something is like or
should be like. Bad is something unpleasant, harmful, or undesirable. So it means the
writer is having opinion about you as the unpleasant one and not a good person.


I'm captivated by you, baby, like a firework show

The word captivate means find something fascinating and attractive. Firework

show is a public exhibition of a small object that is lit to entertain people on special
occasions. It contains chemicals and burn brightly or attractively. So you here
describe as attractive as firework show that could captivated the song-writer.
b. Mixed Metaphor
3. You're the kind of reckless
The word kind means all of people and other that are like them or that belong
to the same class or set. And reckless means people who act in a way which shows
that they do not care about danger or the effect their behaviour will have on other
people. So that you here describe as a type of person who has no care on others as
the result of his dangerous behaviour
c. Poetic Metaphor
4. And I'm a house of cards
5. You're the kind of reckless
6. That should send me running
Someones attitude which like a house of cards in 4th line that has been
described before which have meaning as a person that weak, easy to break and ripped
off meet with a person who has attitude with no care to others in 5th line (reckless) so

that it make the person with house of cards attitude try to avoid it by running in 6th
line in literal meaning means moving fast on foot.
10. Get me with those green eyes, baby, as the lights go down
The word get means put someone into a place or position means to cause them
to move there. Eyes mean are the parts of your body with which you see. But here
eyes with the adjective stress on colour green which we know as the colour of fresh
and shine come together as the light down implied that the green eyes of someone
can make the writer move through the darkness as no lights on.
20. I'm on my guard for the rest of the world
21. But with you I know it's no good
The word guard in 20th line means a protective device which covers a part of
someone's body or a dangerous part of a piece of equipment. So on my guard meet
for the rest of the world here mean she tried to covers herself from the people in the
world. But in the 21st line, it is useless guard because expressing by the words no
d. Dead Metaphor

8. Close enough to hope you couldnt see

what I was thinking of
The word see means notice something using eyes. In 9th line when the song
writer state what I was thinking of it impossible to notice what inside song-writers
minds since it is abstract.

10. Drop everything now

The word drop means deliberately but also accidentally let things fall. but in
this line it used to tell someone to leave everything behind him not actually drop
everything he has.
11. Meet me in the pouring rain
The word pour here actually means you make liquid flow steadily out of a
container by holding the container at an angle. But this expression is commonly used
to describe very heavy rain.
12. Take away the pain
The word take means reach out for something by the hand and hold it and if
you go somewhere you carry it and have it with you. But as we describe before, pain
here is something abstract which can be touch by physical hand. So that it is a
13. 'cause I see sparks fly whenever you smile
The word see means notice something using eyes. Sparks mean in literal that
is a tiny bright piece of burning material that flies up from something that is burning.
But sparks here describe as a feeling with certain amount of quantity especially a
desirable one. Since it is a feeling, it is hard to explain because of the abstractness.
14. Give me something that'll haunt me when you're not around
The word haunt means things doing by a ghost or spirit in a scary place or a
person regularly appears in the place, or is seen by the person and frightens them. In
this line haunt means something unpleasant which will worrying and keep thinking
by the writer given by someone that is you.

24. Just keep on keeping your eyes on me

The word keep means do things repeatedly or continually. Eyes mean are the
parts of your body with which you see. So the writer, in this line mean that she want
someone to continually and repeatedly see her and remain doing it.

e. The Function of the Metaphor

Inexpressibility hypothesis
Taylor Swifts third album Speak Now contain of fourteen songs which she
wrote by herself without the help of professional co-writer. Most of the songs
expressing Swifts feeling toward someone who has relationship with her. Song lyric
of Sparks Fly being analyze is the second track on the album is describing about crush
she had to someone who made she feel like she could even see sparks fly whenever
the man smile in front of her (Wikipedia)
Feeling itself in definition according to Collins Cobuild Dictionary (2006), is
something or a thing that you think and feel about it, or your attitude towards it. Since
it is what we think and feel, we could conclude that feeling is something abstract
which needs to express but it is hard. So that by writing this song lyric, the
inexpressibility Swift has for her feeling become much easier with the use of
figurative language as metaphor in the construction.


Compactness hypothesis
Compactness is being described in the lyric on the 1st, 2nd, 17th, and 27th line

which contain of conceptual metaphor. On the 1st line, the attitude having by someone

in the way he move express as a full of storm. Storm in literal meaning is very bad
weather, with heavy rain, strong winds, and often thunder and lightning and Swift
describe someone with the characteristic similar as the storm like it brings trouble, an
over doer person and so on. The same thing happens as in the 2nd, 17th, and 27th line.
Each of it describe someone attitude through one or more words which has compact
characteristics with the subject of describing.

Vividness hypothesis
To describe something in writer experience more vivid and clear way is the

reason of the proposal of this hypothesis. The conceptual metaphor being used in the
lyric is based on the experiences, whether its positive or negative, which Swift have
towards the person she tried to describe by the attitude in her song lyric (as in the 1st,
2nd, 3rd, 17th, and 27th line).

After doing such an analysis towards the metaphor in song lyric Spark Fly by
Taylor Swift, there are several conclusion which can be made; First, the theory of Lakoff and
Johnson in Metaphor We Live By, stated that metaphor not only occur in poetic and artistic
literary works but also omnipresent in our every-day-language is correct. Since we can find
the use of metaphor in the song lyric we have been analyze and song lyric is having highly
correlation between daily life and music especially song and particularly lyric inside it.
Second, the writer also have proposed analysis of types of metaphor using in the song
lyric Sparks Fly by Taylor Swift such as Dead metaphor and Live metaphor and also with
its three division those are; Conceptual, Mixed and Poetic metaphor.

The last, we have also proposed the proof of the existence of metaphor in song lyric
by Ortonys theory about why metaphor is used as expression by three hypotheses;
Inexpressibility, Compactness and Vividness.

Crystal, D. 1992. An Encyclopedic Dictionary of Language and Languages. Harmondsworth:
Penguin Books.

Lakoff, G. and M. Johnson.1980. Metaphors We Live By. Chicago: The University of

Chicago Press.

Matthews, P.H. 1997. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Linguistics. New York: Oxford
University Press.

McCarthy, Michael. 1991. Discourse Analysis for Language Teaching. United Kingdom:
Cambridge University Press

Ortony, A. 1993. Metaphor and Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.




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