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Keywords:

  • Asylum;
  • Austria;
  • metaphor;
  • naturalization;
  • newspapers;
  • racism

With specific reference to the use of metaphor in Austrian newspaper reports on the arrival of Kurdish asylum seekers in Italy in January 1998, this study suggests ways in which cognitive metaphor theory can be given a stronger socio-political dimension. The dominant metaphors portray the asylum seekers as water, as criminals, or as an invading army. The repeated use of these themes in relatively fixed lexical and syntactic forms and across all the newspapers seems to indicate that they have become accepted as the ‘natural’ way of describing the situation. It will be argued that the ‘naturalization’ of particular metaphors can contribute to a blurring of the boundaries between the literal and the non-literal.