The conceptualisation of austerity in the Portuguese, Spanish and Irish press

Augusto Soares da Silva, Maria Josep Cuenca, Manuela Romano

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The aim of this chapter is to analyse the conceptualisation of austerity in three different European cultures by identifying metaphorical expressions used in one representative newspaper of the Portuguese, the Spanish and the Irish press between 2011 and 2012. The metaphors were identified by searching for three keywords from the field of economy and politics (austeridade-austeridad-austerity, corte-recorte-cut and dívida-deuda-debt) and were then classified according to the type of schema they instantiate, namely, propositional schema, image schema or event schema. Assuming the general framework of Cultural Linguistics and corpus-based and discourse-based approaches to conceptual metaphor, the study highlights how metaphor can be a powerful conceptual and discourse strategy to frame economic, political and social issues and to serve emotional and ideological purposes. Through metaphor, the strongly mediatised political and economic debate about austerity measures and policies becomes effectively persuasive and manipulative. The analysis shows that the newspapers resort to the same schemas and metaphors. However, the differences in the frequency of the types of schema and the specific metaphors suggest that different socio-historical and cultural conceptualisations result in the different types and rates of metaphors in the three cultures under analysis, i.e. a deep conservative morality of self-discipline and punishment, in the case of Portugal; a strong sense of outrage against austerity measures and their creditors, in Spain; and the idea that the crisis and its effects were hitting the country but not as seriously as others, in Ireland.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in cultural linguistics
EditorsFarzad Sharifian
Place of PublicationSingapore
PublisherSpringer Singapore
ISBN (Electronic)9789811040566
ISBN (Print)9789811040559, 9789811350351
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Cultural linguistics
  • Conceptual metaphor
  • Cultural conceptualisation
  • Propositional schemas
  • Image schemas
  • Event schemas
  • Austerity
  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • Ireland


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