Metaphors of U.S Cultural Variety

Researchers describe that lots of cultural groups stay within just the borders of the United States. When persons chat about the mix of U.S cultural groups, their strategies are typically condensed into vivid descriptions. These summary photographs, called metaphors, suggest both of those descriptions of what is and, less certainly, prescriptions of what must be.  This report focuses on 4 metaphors that have been employed to describe the cultural blend within just the United States, a melting pot, a set of tributaries, a tapestry, and a garden salad.

The Melting Pot Metaphor

Most likely the oldest metaphor for describing several cultures in the United States is the melting pot. America, in accordance to this graphic, is like a large crucible, a container that can stand up to particularly substantial temperatures and can consequently be employed to soften, blend, and in the long run fuse alongside one another metals or other substances. This graphic as the dominant way to represent the perfect mixing of cultural groups at a time when the hardened steel that was cast in the great blast furnaces of Pittsburgh helped to make the United States into an industrial ability. According to this watch, immigrants from lots of cultures came to the United States to perform, stay, blend, and mix alongside one another into one great assimilated society that is more robust and much better than the special individual cultures of which it is composed. Some argue that as dynamic as the melting pot metaphor has been in the United States, it has by no means been an accurate description. The inclination for diverse cultures to soften alongside one another and assimilate their special heritages into a solitary cultural entity has by no means definitely existed. Fairly the lots of cultural groups within just the United States have consistently adapted to one a further as they accommodated and possibly adopted some of the procedures and preferences of other groups while maintaining their own special and exclusive heritages.

The Tributaries Metaphor

A at present well-known metaphor for describing the blend of cultures in the United States is that of tributaries or tributary streams or tributary systems.America, in accordance to this graphic is like a large cultural watershed, offering quite a few paths in which the lots of tributary cultures can movement. The tributaries sustain their special identities as the surge towards their common location. This watch is handy and powerful. Unlike the melting pot metaphor, which indicates that all cultures in the United States should to be blended to conquer their individual weaknesses, the tributary graphic would seem to recommend that it is satisfactory and appealing for cultural groups to sustain their special identities. Nevertheless, when the metaphor of tributaries is examined intently, there are objections to some of its implications. Tributary streams are modest, secondary creeks that in the long run movement into a common stream, wherever they combine to kind a key river. This notion rests in the concealed assumption that the cultural groups will in the long run and inevitably mix alongside one another into a solitary, common present-day. Certainly, there are considerably less illustrations of cultures that have totally assimilated into mainstream U. S.society than there are occasions of cultures that have remained special. Even further, the thought of tributaries mixing alongside one another to kind one key stream indicates that the tributaries are in some way subordinate to or less crucial than the mighty river into which they movement.

The Tapestry Metaphor

A tapestry is a ornamental cloth designed up of lots of strands of thread. The threads are woven alongside one another into an artistic structure that may possibly be pleasing to some but not to other folks. Each thread is akin to a individual, and groups of equivalent threads are analogous to a society. Of program, the types of threads differ in lots of methods, their thickness, smoothness, color, texture, and power may possibly range. The threads can selection from gossamer strands to inch-thick yarn, from delicate silk to program burlap, from pastel hues to fluorescent radiance, and from fragile spider webs to steel cables. The weaving approach by itself can range from one place to a further within just the total tapestry. Below, a wide swatch of a solitary form of thread may possibly be employed there, lots of threads could possibly be interwoven with lots of other folks, so no solitary thread is distinguished and somewhere else, the threads may possibly have been grouped alongside one another into modest but distinguishable clumps. Despite the fact that the metaphor of a tapestry has substantially to commend it, the graphic is not flawless. Just after all, a tapestry is instead static and unchangeable. Just one does not ordinarily unstring a bolt of cloth, for occasion, only to reassemble the threads somewhere else in a various configuration. Cultural groups in the United States are far more fluid than the tapestry metaphor could possibly suggest migrations, immigrations, and mortality patterns all change the cultural landscape. Inspite of its limits, one finds this metaphor preferable to the prior two.

The Garden Salad Metaphor

Like a garden salad designed up of lots of distinctive ingredients that are being tossed consistently, some see the United States as designed up of a sophisticated array of distinctive cultures that are blended into a special, and one hopes tasteful, mixture. Substitute one component for a further, or even modify how substantially of every single component is existing, and the entire flavor of the salad may possibly be adjusted. Combine the salad otherwise and appear and truly feel will also differ. A salad incorporates a mix of ingredients and it delivers a special mixture of tints, textures, and tastes that tempt the palate. Like the other metaphors, the garden salad is not without its flaws, to contrast to the tapestry graphic, which indicates that the United States is also fastened and unchanging a garden salad indicates an absence of firmness and stability. A usual garden salad has no fastened arrangement it is normally in a point out of flux. 

There are explanations of the explicit character of metaphors and their effects on conversation. They convey to us that one way of imagining about the connection between language and imagined is to appear at metaphors. A metaphor is an expression wherever a term (or words and phrases) is employed outdoors of its normal conventional indicating to categorical a equivalent notion (Lakoff, 1992). For case in point, “you are my sunshine.” Despite the fact that an individual are unable to literally be sunshine, evaluating somebody to sunshine expresses a specific beneficial indicating. Industry experts employed to assume that metaphors are about language, or literary writing, not handy for comprehension each day speech. Lakoff disagrees and proposes that metaphors are part of imagining, one way we arrange our feelings, in each day dwelling, in actuality, metaphors are “a key and indispensable part of our everyday conventional way of conceptualizing the entire world, and that our each day behavior displays our metaphorical comprehension of experience.” Being familiar with a culture’s metaphors, then, aids us fully grasp a thing about the society by itself. Metaphors can also be a handy way to fully grasp other cultures. Some metaphors are common. Industry experts agree that metaphors replicate cultural beliefs and values.


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