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US Intelligence Agency to Compile Mountain of Metaphors

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the bright-ideas dept.

Government 151

coondoggie writes "Researchers with the US Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity want to build a repository of metaphors. You read that right. Not just American/English metaphors mind you but those of Iranian Farsi, Mexican Spanish and Russian speakers. Why metaphors? 'Metaphors have been known since Aristotle as poetic or rhetorical devices that are unique, creative instances of language artistry (for example: The world is a stage; Time is money). Over the last 30 years, metaphors have been shown to be pervasive in everyday language and to reveal how people in a culture define and understand the world around them,' IARPA says."

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not metaphor examples (-1)

snookerhog (1835110) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227484)

The world is a stage; Time is money Both simalies, genius.

Re:not metaphor examples (1)

Johnny5000 (451029) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227562)

The world is a stage; Time is money Both simalies, genius.

Better check the handbook again, genius.

Re:not metaphor examples (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36227610)

Ignoring the typo, you might want to brush up on figures of speech before bestowing the genius title. From wikipedia:
A simile is a figure of speech that indirectly compares two different things by employing the words "like", "as", or "than" . Metaphors compare things without using "like" or "as."

Re:not metaphor examples (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36227712)

Metaphors don't compare anything. They describe things by calling them something that they aren't. For example (from the title) in "mountain of metaphors" the "mountain" is a metaphor for a large repository.

Re:not metaphor examples (1)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228176)

Correct. But although 'time is money' isn't a metaphor, it's neither a simile, as it doesn't ascribe any likeness to the concepts. Time 'is' money because time should be spent making money. It's related by closeness, i.e. a metonymy.

Re:not metaphor examples (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36227616)

Those _are_ metaphors. A simile uses the term like to express the relationship between the words. E.g. the world is like a stage.

Re:not metaphor examples (5, Informative)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227690)

Nope. A simile (you suck at spelling, by the way) is "X is like Y", whereas a metaphor is "X is Y". So when I say "your face looks like a horse's ass", I'm insulting you with a simile, but when I say "your brain is a black hole - things go in, and are lost to all time and space", I'm insulting you with a metaphor. Both of those (similes and metaphors) are examples of a broader category of analogies.

RECURSION? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36228276)

A horse's ass? An ass's horse?

Re:not metaphor examples (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227886)

Error code IRONY101 - Comment does not compute.

"-1, Dumbass" moderation, not found.

Re:not metaphor examples (1)

thesh0ck (1983948) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227888)

Good troll. =]

Re:not metaphor examples (2)

creat3d (1489345) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228866)

People really should stop assuming idiots are trolling. They're just idiots.

Re:not metaphor examples (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228106)

that is a load of bull SH*T

Re:not metaphor examples (1)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228208)

Both simalies, genius.

That would be "simile" not "simalie", genius.

i guess their computers (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36227504)

can't differentiate "that shit is the bomb!" from "let's bomb that shit!".

Re:i guess their computers (3, Interesting)

datapharmer (1099455) | more than 3 years ago | (#36229072)

Oh, I suspect they've had that one down for at least a couple decades. I think the issue is more along the lines of intentional obfuscation like "If things thaw any further the queen's gonna be entering the sunset years and even Lassie won't be able to find that well. I hear the winds of change are callin' Vinny to bring the misses on a fishing trip. Its going to be a fine boat ride all hook, line and 'sink-her.... hahaha'" The combination of mismatched metaphors makes it difficult for a computer to analyze the conversation effectively. While it is easy enough for the computer to flag it as suspicious it might be difficult to categorize in an automated fashion: is it about royalty, fishing, murder, weather, old television reruns or a pointless nonsense conversation?

Here's one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36227518)

If a frog had wings, he wouldn't bump his ass everytime he hops. - Red Forman

Re:Here's one (1)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227794)

That's not a metaphor.

Guess those researchers have been watching Trek... (4, Insightful)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227522)

Darmok and Jilad at Tanagra, anyone?

Star Tropes (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227624)

Spending time in any community with its own metaphors will ruin your vocabulary [tvtropes.org] .

Re:Guess those researchers have been watching Trek (1)

Deus.1.01 (946808) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227642)

Speaking of which...any crazy linguists compiled a Terran version yet?

Re:Guess those researchers have been watching Trek (3, Funny)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227918)

Don't you mean.. cunning linguists? I'd lick to see them try.

Re:Guess those researchers have been watching Trek (1)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228714)

I bet you have a lot of experience on foreign tongues.

Re:Guess those researchers have been watching Trek (2)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227664)

Now who's watching who? Did Mr. Munroe know about this first, or did the IARPA get the idea from him?

Re:Guess those researchers have been watching Trek (1)

hazydave (96747) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227754)

Sukat, his eyes uncovered !

Not as if English is any different (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228004)

Not as if English doesn't have its own allusions that have entered the vocabulary: "Trojan horse", "Doubting Thomas", "Christ figure", "You don't have to be an Einstein", and all coinages fitting Stigler's law [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Not as if English is any different (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36228870)

Tepples wind over his head.

XKCD (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36228646)

Or they read XKCD

Re:Guess those researchers have been watching Trek (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36228910)

Shaka, the walls fell!

Not enough really. (3, Funny)

Centurix (249778) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227524)

What we need here is a database of really bad analogies. Keep it somewhere safe.

Imagine putting it in the locked glove compartment in a car.

Re:Not enough really. (1)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228444)

Now they need only databases of bad analogies, metonymies, parables, similes, synecdoches and catachresis to understand the world.

Re:Not enough really. (4, Funny)

jheath314 (916607) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228624)

> What we need here is a database of really bad analogies.

Dude, what do you think slashdot is?

Re:Not enough really. (1)

LiquidLink57 (1864484) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228758)

If you don't understand analogies, don't use them. It's like a pig on a tightrope.

May the Wind be at your back! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36227534)

Good luck!

Time is money (2)

frisket (149522) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227584)

Time is money

Except that it's not. Money is a renewable resource: time isn't.

Re:Time is money (2)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227618)

The fact that it is not literally true is what makes it a metaphor. The world is, in fact, not a stage.

See, this is why we can't have nice things... (3, Insightful)

denzacar (181829) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227708)

Time is money

Except that it's not. Money is a renewable resource: time isn't.

People taking metaphors and treating them like synonyms or taking the metaphorical figure of speech as literal meaning.
And next thing you know, we're having holy wars, inquisition, genocide...

Re:See, this is why we can't have nice things... (1)

AshtangiMan (684031) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227778)

. . . and intelligence agencies with way way too much time and money . . .

Re:Time is money (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227876)

1- when you no longer have any money, what do you need to make more ? some time ...

2- money is time: taking the plane to somewhere is a lot faster (and more expensive) than hitch-hiking.

Re:Time is money (1)

Rhodri Mawr (862554) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228048)

"Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so." - Ford Prefect

Re:Time is money (2)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228382)

The US gov really wants to detect hints of:
"When the money stops flowing down to the man in the street ..." (Gerald Celente)
before smart people with no money and lots of free time ....
This can save US taxpayers from putting "particular groups" in the wrong security context or seeing a real color revolution form without embassy minders.
Say from keeping tabs on your blog via a gateway at a boring network operations centre to sneak and peek to ....

Re:Time is money (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228262)

Great, another person who sees the word "is" and understands that it must be mathematical and meaning "identical to" .

Get a clue [wikipedia.org]

Re:Time is money (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36228590)

Not renewable?!? Then how come my clock keeps rolling back to 00:00:00 every night?

Re:Time is money (1)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 3 years ago | (#36229198)

When you've got all the time in the world why would it matter that it's not renewable?

Or are we going to need to start buying chronoton offsets?

Human Intel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36227592)

Maybe US Int should focus on recruiting people who understand metaphors.

Re:Human Intel (1)

Deus.1.01 (946808) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227748)

Bit thats what they met-em-for.

Why Spanish? (1)

quark101 (865412) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227628)

I can understand the desire to have metaphors for Iranian Farsi and Russian, to help keep a better watch on the governments in those two countries, but why Mexican Spanish? The only thing that comes to mind is the massive amount of drug trafficking in that country. It seems like Chinese would be a better language to focus on, given the worries that many people have about that country.

Re:Why Spanish? (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228054)

You don't think that an intelligence agency would be interested in "how people in a culture define and understand the world around them" for pretty much every country in the world?

Re:Why Spanish? (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228098)

It seems like Chinese would be a better language to focus on, given the worries that many people have about that country.

I'm afraid that Chinese is so foreign as to break the US Intelligence Advanced Research Projects model.

I think Mexican Spanish is in focus because of physical proximity and the English-Spanish language barrier. The Canadian lingusitic border is a little more porous (until you reach Quebec...)

Re:Why Spanish? (2)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228522)

They get to vote in Mexico and understanding blogs could be an early warning to the US gov to spend more cash on their candidates.
Work harder on smearing the far left or right option as the blogs and web 2.0 fill with real local news.
Links with Communists, some dark military operation that was exposed years ago, a foreign cult giving out big cash gifts, extra homes and no taxes, strange bank accounts, extramarital issues ect. that would fit the "left" or "right".
Mix as needed to ensure nothing changes.

Re:Why Spanish? (1)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | more than 3 years ago | (#36229140)

I can understand the desire to have metaphors for Iranian Farsi and Russian, to help keep a better watch on the governments in those two countries, but why Mexican Spanish? The only thing that comes to mind is the massive amount of drug trafficking in that country. It seems like Chinese would be a better language to focus on, given the worries that many people have about that country.

You are looking at this as if the only and only focus of this is on risk mitigation. It isn't (not to say that it is not *one* of the primary motives behind the study.)

Metaphors are not just a function of language, but also culture and regional proximity. My take on this (and I could be wrong for all I know) is that these language variations (with the exception of Russian, all other three are variations), is that they are all Indo-European languages. They have shared structures, syntax and root words. All but three have developed within the context of Christian traditions (and thus Christian imagery might have played a role in the development of metaphors.)

Mexican Spanish and Iranian Farsi might serve as outliers. The former has an enormous borrowing from a variety of unrelated Amerindian languages (Nahuatl/Uto-Aztecan, Mixtec, Mayan, etc) and the culture that evolved it has a strong non-Caucasian component. The later is a non-Christian out lier with a strong non-Indo-European influence (Arabic to be precise.) Furthermore, the later is written right-to-left as opposed to left-to-right.

In terms of writing (and writing might influence language), Russian and Iranian Farsi might act as out liers from the point of view of an American English/Mexican Spanish nucleus with a shared Latin alphabet. They are also out liers from the point of view that American English and Mexican Spanish have evolved in close proximity with a very close (and often times tumultuous) history. In a way, they are a evolving Sprachbund (in particular American English as spoken in the South West wrt to Mexican Spanish.)

This last "North American" control group might shed lights on metaphor similarities between the two but that are not shared between other variants of Spanish and English.

One could have argued to select Pashtun or Urdu instead of Iranian Farsi, but the later (I believe) has a larger literary history (something to consider.)

These four languages provide so many cultural, geographical, historical and religious dimensions for analysis (on top of a well-established Indo-European ancestry), that their selection make sense.

Obviously, a study that included Chinese (or Korean or Arabic for that matter) could have been chosen. But they are so distinct, that they might have added more variables to consider. When you develop a model for analysis, you want to choose one that is manageable. The current choice of languages seem to provide that.

But then again, this is just speculation from my part.

Re:Why Spanish? (1)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | more than 3 years ago | (#36229186)

My take on this (and I could be wrong for all I know) is that these language variations (with the exception of Russian, all other three are variations), is that they are all Indo-European languages.

To quote myself and to clarify/correct a posting snafu - by "my take on this" I mean that these languages were chosen (out of a range of possible selections) because they are Indo-European languages that are not in extreme close proximity historically and culturally (among other factors.)

My grandfather (1)

muyla (1429487) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227636)

They should contact my grandfather, for he is himself the repository.

If the mountain ... (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227638)

... will not come to Muhammad
Muhammad must go to the mountain.

How Orwellian (1)

doubleyou (89602) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227672)

http://wikilivres.info/wiki/Politics_and_the_English_Language

Geez that sounds hard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36227678)

I mean it'll be like writing a new dictionary

Cold Dog Soup (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36227758)

If time is money, and money is the root of all evil, is time the root of all evil? If time heals all wounds, does money wound all heels? If time waits for no one, who does the root of all evil wait for?"

What they really mean is (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36227800)

'Metaphors have been known since Aristotle as poetic or rhetorical devices that are unique, creative instances of language artistry. Since they're unique, we can use them to fingerprint people using only text samples.'

simile, metaphor, analogy (1)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227818)

Just in case i wasn't the only one in need of a basic grammar refresher [yahoo.com] .

While these three terms are related, their meanings are subtly different. To help understand the distinction, we consulted a number of sources -- American Heritage Dictionary, the Yahoo! Grammar, Usage, and Style category, and web search results for the three terms.

The dictionary defines a "metaphor" as a figure of speech that uses one thing to mean another and makes a comparison between the two. For example, Shakespeare's line, "All the world's a stage," is a metaphor comparing the whole world to a theater stage. Metaphors can be very simple, and they can function as most any part of speech. "The spy shadowed the woman" is a verb metaphor. The spy doesn't literally cast his shadow on the woman, but he follows her so closely and quietly that he resembles her own shadow.

A simile, also called an open comparison, is a form of metaphor that compares two different things to create a new meaning. But a simile always uses "like" or "as" within the phrase and is more explicit than a metaphor. For example, Shakespeare's line could be rewritten as a simile to read: "The world is like a stage." Another simile would be: "The spy was close as a shadow." Both metaphor and simile can be used to enhance writing.

An analogy is a bit more complicated. At the most basic level, an analogy shows similarity between things that might seem different -- much like an extended metaphor or simile. But analogy isn't just a form of speech. It can be a logical argument: if two things are alike in some ways, they are alike in some other ways as well. Analogy is often used to help provide insight by comparing an unknown subject to one that is more familiar. It can also show a relationship between pairs of things. This form of analogy is often used on standardized tests in the form "A is to B as C is to D."

Complete Bastards... (0)

TDyl (862130) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227822)

= the act of U.S. agencies using a one-sided extradition agreement to take British citizens without due process or proof and to deny the extradition of U.S. subjects to the U.K. unless there is a mountain of exemplary documentation and lawyers have earned millions and the subject has possibly died in the meantime.

Re:Complete Bastards... (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227976)

= the act of U.S. agencies using a one-sided extradition agreement to take British citizens without due process or proof

Sorry; we're just getting you back for impounding our citizens into your navy prior to 1812.

A little late, but we slipped in under the 200 year deadline.

Re:Complete Bastards... (1)

TDyl (862130) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228260)

We don't recognise your independence from the British Empire anyway so those seamen were still British citizens. :) You're all still a bunch of rebellious land-gragging, genocidal maniacs who wanted to destroy all native life and ignore all treaties with the true Americans.

Re:Complete Bastards... (1)

TDyl (862130) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228294)

for "gragging" please read "grabbing" - ooops

Re:Complete Bastards... (1)

TDyl (862130) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228340)

although having thought about it, maybe gragging is a nicer way to go - sort of a cross between being handbagged and groped- whatever

Re:Complete Bastards... (1)

TDyl (862130) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228384)

ooh, grag me baby one more time

Don't forget to include (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227880)

16th century French metaphors so you can decode the prophecies of Nostradamus

Re:Don't forget to include (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36228264)

In other news, US Government gets Jesus after an extensive IARPA project. The project lead was overheard muttering "the heretics where right, they where right".

Ridiculous! (1)

u4ya (1248548) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227942)

This idea is as stupid as... uhm... err... hmm.

Not really metaphors (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227962)

Hm, the two examples are not really metaphors, except the word is used differnt in english than e.g. in german.

(for example: The world is a stage; Time is money) This are only "dictums". A metapher e.g. is: "fiery snakes are crawling down the sky".

As metaphores are invented on the fly it is pretty hard to make a meaningfull database of them.

angel'o'sphere

Re:Not really metaphors (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228120)

As metaphores are invented on the fly it is pretty hard to make a meaningfull database of them.

Most speakers don't invent on the fly, most speakers parrot things they have heard before.

An excellent Japanese metaphor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36227986)

The nail that sticks up gets hammered down.

Re:An excellent Japanese metaphor (1)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228472)

That is a proverb, not a metaphor.

they're not doing this for the artistic merit, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36227996)

Isn't it blatantly obvious this is for automatic text scanning and interpreting for Intelligence purposes ?

Re:they're not doing this for the artistic merit, (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228776)

The US gov has had instant voice to text, voice print and world wide media/press sorting options for many years.
Simple dictionary options worked well when a city/country had a few newspapers, a few tv/radio stations and a sub set of phone numbers to always listen in on.
Web 2.0, massive advances in cheap cpu/storage and extra funding allows for more creativity to stop the locals from getting uppity.
Why let some web "person" build to updating 10,000 unique ip contacts everyday? They can be detected at 10, 100, 1000 with better searches and then be co-opted/stopped.

Metaphors. You mean like....? (2)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228016)

Fiddling while Rome burns?

Rearranging the deckchairs on the boat-deck of the Titanic?

Alphabetizing your record collection?

The Devil making work for Idle hands?

Living in ivory towers?

The mice playing while the cat is away?

Counting the number of angels that can dance on a pinhead?

Re:Metaphors. You mean like....? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36228316)

Where is the comparison? What I was told in school is it is a comparison, similar to a similie that does not use "like" or "as"

according to the World English Dictionary

a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action that it does not literally denote in order to imply a resemblance, for example he is a lion in battle .

OB XKCD (1)

ginbot462 (626023) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228040)

I'm bit disappointed, it's the current one even ..
XKCD [xkcd.com]

Re:OB XKCD (1)

ginbot462 (626023) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228068)

I meant "I'm [a] bit disappointed [nobody on slashdot posted it yet]". I'll just shutup now.

What is the greek word for Metaphor? (1)

Tei (520358) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228074)

Seems nice. A very geeky interest in something ... humm... I am going to say interesting, but probably I am a nerd, and I like these things for different reasons.
I would love to have access to this data, once is collected :D

IARPA speaks with forked tongue (3, Interesting)

RandCraw (1047302) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228114)

The OA quotes IARPA (DARPA for intelligence gathering):

"For decision makers to be effective in a world of mass communication and global interaction, they must understand the shared concepts and worldviews of members of other cultures of interest."

Horse hockey.

No computer can help a human understand a simile, much less an abstraction that's often in the guise of a complex historical or literary reference (i.e. metaphor). So what is the *real* purpose for this 5 year spy program?

First, metaphors are a great identifier of individual writing styles. The trick though is to recognize *when* a word is being used as a metaphor. Tagging a word like 'lion' as trackworthy works only when you know when the word was not meant literally.

Second, and more likely, from snippets of some of Bin Laden's recently unearthed messages, it's clear that Al-Qaeda is using metaphorical code phrases to refer to plans and goals rather than explicit sentences. Part of this program is probably intended to recognize syntactic (and maybe semantic) variations on a given metaphor so it can be recognized and tracked across multiple messages from different people.

So despite IARPA's dumbass lie about 'encouraging greater cultural understanding', this is yet another signals intelligence target tracking program.

Re:IARPA speaks with forked tongue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36228780)

nah they are pissing up the wrong tree

Re:IARPA speaks with forked tongue (2)

opentunings (851734) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228938)

No computer can help a human understand a simile, much less an abstraction that's often in the guise of a complex historical or literary reference (i.e. metaphor).

IBM might dispute that, now that Watson's won at Jeopardy.

You might be misunderstanding the project (3, Insightful)

void*p (899835) | more than 3 years ago | (#36229028)

Metaphors aren't just linguistic expressions or indicators of writing styles. Very often, linguistic metaphors are indicators of how people conceptualize the world. For example, people have spacial metaphors in their brains for concepts like "time" that are indicated by expressions like "going forward".

One interesting example of how cognitive metaphors shape or reflect worldviews is the current budget debate in the United States. Very often, proponents of austerity will use "family" metaphors to make their point. If the government is *not* like a family (for example, because a family doesn't have the same amount of control over its "means" as a government, or because parents don't typically fund themselves by taxing their children), then the points being made are quite possibly flawed.

Cognitive metaphors are so prevalent in the human brain that I don't think it's a huge overstatement to say that you can understand people by understanding their metaphors.

I never met a 4 I didn't like (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36228132)

-anonymous

big leap from prehysteric to prehistoric? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36228156)

how many chosen ones holycost life0cides between here & our infernal rewards? a metaphorical guesstimate; how long is never?

SIGINT (1)

Aceticon (140883) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228396)

This is most likelly meant to improve automated processing of intercepted messages.

People trying to communicate over a non-encrypted channel which have secrets they want to keep from well funded state agents KNOW that pretty much any and all conversations on an insecure channel are monitored and automatically processed (in fact, thanks to government mandated secret backdoors and weaknesses in cryptographic implementations, probably many "secure" channels are monitored).

I suspect that, outside the cases were the sender and the recipient have pre-exchanged a dictionary of "secret words" by a secure channel, the only half-decent way of avoiding that an "open-air" conversation is detected as important by the automated systems and flagged for human processing is using analogies.

If you build a database of analogies in all languages you can make your automated systems be able to detect "keywords" which were said by way of analogy.

Metaphor or HyperBole? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36228432)

I thought "All the world's a stage" (William S) is a hyperbole

I love the title (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228452)

I just want to say, that for once, the title was well chosen.

Time flies like an arrow ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36228476)

Fruit flies like a banana. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_flies_like_an_arrow

Have to (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36228492)

To attempt to gather intelligence without knowing the metaphors of a language would be like eating soup with a fork, you might get something out of it, but how much is slipping though uncaught?

A mountain? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36228502)

Shouldn't they measure it in Library of Congresses?

Leave it to the government . . . (1)

base3 (539820) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228542)

. . . to make a mountain of metaphors out of a molehill.

30 years? (1)

coldsalmon (946941) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228602)

"Over the last 30 years, metaphors have been shown to be pervasive in everyday language and to reveal how people in a culture define and understand the world around them"

Shouldn't that read "Over the last 30,000 years"?

I guess then... (1)

Flipstylee (1932884) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228648)

It's time to make like a tree, and get the fuck outta here!

National Defense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36228650)

We absolutely need this in case the Riddler unleashes his diabolical plot. It may be the only thing that could save us.

What ? (1)

Issarlk (1429361) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228656)

How exactly is this going to help in the war against pedoterrorists ?

A Suitable Place to House the Project (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36228682)

I suggest they locate it up the OXO Tower.

I'm dubious. (1)

wcrowe (94389) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228732)

I think they've bitten off more than they can chew. Practically anything can be a metaphor for something, and language is not static, so that these things ebb and flow like the tide. I do not think this project will be successful.

But, assuming it is successful (or at least those with the technology believe it is successful), what purpose does this really serve? My gut tells me that it will be used to sway public opinion on issues.

Perhaps I'm just paranoid.

Automated monitoring of intent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36228748)

They need the list of metaphors because their automated systems cannot currently handle them right now. They're fine if they parse your email and read, "plant the bomb" at such an such a place, but not so good when the same message is hidden inside a metaphor.

They ain't doing it in the interests of Literature.

Also helpful in weeding out what's important (3, Insightful)

AugstWest (79042) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228842)

I can't imagine the volume of data that the intelligence agencies must weed through, especially if they're monitoring text or voice-to-text.

Skipping over things like "beat some sense into him," or "bringing a knife to a gun fight," or the somewhat infamous "O'Keeffe & Company delivers a rifle shot at critical business, technology, and investment audiences," or even just flagging them as possible metaphors, would be incredibly helpful.

I can only imagine how difficult this would be when monitoring other cultures, languages, idioms, etc. I hope they make this database public, although it's a dim hope. It'd be a great trove of cultural information for the entire planet, not just intelligence agencies.

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