Defending our borders: Metaphor scenarios in Hungarian and Romanian political discourse on migration


  • Kinga Kolumban Transilvania University of Brasov, Romania



metaphor, scenario, evaluation, self-presentation, migration


Metaphor in political discourse has been described as a device for persuasion and providing legitimacy for political action. Besides these roles, however, Andreas Musolff draws attention to the dialogic potential of metaphors in public discourse when used as variations of universally accepted metaphorical frames applied and tailored in accordance with the specific ideologies, attitudes, and values of the discourse community addressed. Such subcategories, named scenarios, not only convey the target domain in terms more familiar to the audience, but they also invite evaluation and assessment on the part of the audience. In this role, metaphors, and their subcategories, and scenarios, allow expression of alternative viewpoints and particular perspectives within the frame of a public debate. This study proposes to track such reformulations in Hungarian and Romanian political discourse during the migrant crisis in 2015 concerning the CONTAINER metaphor. Conceptualizations of various discourse communities as containers are common in political discourse, circumscribing the ingroup as homogenous and compact, entailing elements like boundaries and possibilities of approach or, on the contrary, keeping away outside elements. In the concrete situation of the migrant crisis, entailments like closing or opening borders or conditions on crossing that border are common features. The corpus is composed of declarations from Romanian President Klaus Iohannis and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán related to events that occurred during the crisis, not only formulating attitudes and positioning toward the migrants but also towards the European Union and its policies regarding the issue. The metaphor scenarios are traceable in these speeches are means of self-presentation, defining the role and the position assumed by the two countries as members of the organization.

Author Biography

Kinga Kolumban, Transilvania University of Brasov, Romania

PhD student;
„Henri Coandă” Air Force Academy
Teaching Assistant,