Metaphors of U.S Cultural Diversity

Researchers demonstrate that several cultural teams stay inside the borders of the United States. When persons chat about the blend of U.S cultural teams, their concepts are often condensed into vivid descriptions. These summary pictures, referred to as metaphors, indicate both of those descriptions of what is and, much less certainly, prescriptions of what must be.  This post focuses on 4 metaphors that have been made use of to describe the cultural combine inside the United States, a melting pot, a set of tributaries, a tapestry, and a garden salad.

The Melting Pot Metaphor

Possibly the oldest metaphor for describing several cultures in the United States is the melting pot. America, according to this image, is like a big crucible, a container that can stand up to really substantial temperatures and can hence be made use of to soften, combine, and in the long run fuse jointly metals or other substances. This image as the dominant way to represent the excellent mixing of cultural teams at a time when the hardened steel that was cast in the great blast furnaces of Pittsburgh assisted to make the United States into an industrial energy. According to this look at, immigrants from several cultures arrived to the United States to do the job, stay, combine, and blend jointly into just one great assimilated lifestyle that is stronger and improved than the exclusive particular person cultures of which it is composed. Some argue that as dynamic as the melting pot metaphor has been in the United States, it has hardly ever been an exact description. The tendency for varied cultures to soften jointly and assimilate their exclusive heritages into a one cultural entity has hardly ever definitely existed. Fairly the several cultural teams inside the United States have constantly tailored to just one a further as they accommodated and probably adopted some of the procedures and preferences of other teams whilst preserving their have exclusive and distinctive heritages.

The Tributaries Metaphor

A at present popular metaphor for describing the combine of cultures in the United States is that of tributaries or tributary streams or tributary systems.The united states, according to this image is like a big cultural watershed, supplying a lot of paths in which the several tributary cultures can flow. The tributaries keep their exclusive identities as the surge towards their widespread location. This look at is beneficial and powerful. Compared with the melting pot metaphor, which implies that all cultures in the United States ought to be blended to triumph over their particular person weaknesses, the tributary image looks to recommend that it is satisfactory and fascinating for cultural teams to keep their exclusive identities. However, when the metaphor of tributaries is examined closely, there are objections to some of its implications. Tributary streams are little, secondary creeks that in the long run flow into a widespread stream, where by they combine to sort a main river. This idea rests in the concealed assumption that the cultural teams will in the long run and inevitably blend jointly into a one, widespread present-day. Without a doubt, there are much much less examples of cultures that have absolutely assimilated into mainstream U. than there are occasions of cultures that have remained exclusive. Further, the strategy of tributaries mixing jointly to sort just one principal stream suggests that the tributaries are somehow subordinate to or much less important than the mighty river into which they flow.

The Tapestry Metaphor

A tapestry is a ornamental fabric produced up of several strands of thread. The threads are woven jointly into an inventive style and design that may well be pleasing to some but not to other individuals. Just about every thread is akin to a man or woman, and teams of related threads are analogous to a lifestyle. Of study course, the styles of threads vary in several techniques, their thickness, smoothness, colour, texture, and toughness may well change. The threads can vary from gossamer strands to inch-thick yarn, from tender silk to study course burlap, from pastel hues to fluorescent radiance, and from fragile spider webs to steel cables. The weaving system alone can change from just one spot to a further inside the all round tapestry. Listed here, a vast swatch of a one style of thread may well be made use of there, several threads could possibly be interwoven with several other individuals, so no one thread is distinguished and elsewhere, the threads may well have been grouped jointly into little but distinguishable clumps. Although the metaphor of a tapestry has substantially to commend it, the image is not flawless. Right after all, a tapestry is somewhat static and unchangeable. One particular does not commonly unstring a bolt of fabric, for occasion, only to reassemble the threads elsewhere in a distinct configuration. Cultural teams in the United States are additional fluid than the tapestry metaphor could possibly indicate migrations, immigrations, and mortality styles all alter the cultural landscape. Inspite of its constraints, just one finds this metaphor preferable to the past two.

The Garden Salad Metaphor

Like a garden salad produced up of several distinctive components that are staying tossed constantly, some see the United States as produced up of a elaborate array of distinctive cultures that are blended into a exclusive, and just one hopes tasteful, mixture. Substitute just one ingredient for a further, or even improve how substantially of just about every ingredient is present, and the entire taste of the salad may well be transformed. Mix the salad in different ways and glance and come to feel will also vary. A salad has a blend of components and it supplies a exclusive blend of tints, textures, and preferences that tempt the palate. Like the other metaphors, the garden salad is not with no its flaws, to contrast to the tapestry image, which implies that the United States is as well preset and unchanging a garden salad suggests an absence of firmness and security. A typical garden salad has no preset arrangement it is constantly in a point out of flux. 

There are explanations of the specific nature of metaphors and their outcomes on conversation. They explain to us that just one way of considering about the romance involving language and believed is to glance at metaphors. A metaphor is an expression where by a word (or words) is made use of exterior of its standard typical which means to specific a related idea (Lakoff, 1992). For illustration, “you are my sunshine.” Although an particular person are not able to pretty much be sunshine, evaluating somebody to sunshine expresses a particular beneficial which means. Gurus made use of to assume that metaphors are about language, or literary producing, not beneficial for knowledge day to day speech. Lakoff disagrees and proposes that metaphors are component of considering, just one way we manage our views, in day to day residing, in fact, metaphors are “a main and indispensable component of our normal typical way of conceptualizing the globe, and that our day to day behavior demonstrates our metaphorical knowledge of practical experience.” Understanding a culture’s metaphors, then, will help us comprehend a little something about the lifestyle alone. Metaphors can also be a beneficial way to comprehend other cultures. Some metaphors are universal. Gurus agree that metaphors mirror cultural beliefs and values.


Lakoff G. (1992) The modern theory of metaphor. In Ortony A. Metaphor and believed (2nd ed) pp 202-251.New York:CambridgeUniversity Press