Year 31 No. 3 (2023): Issue 3/2023

Value Metaphors in Films: A Corpus-based Analysis of the Representation of Core Values in American Movies

Francesca Luisa Seracini
Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

Published 01/16/2024


  • metaphors,
  • values,
  • Personal Values Dictionary,
  • Metaphorical Pattern Analysis,
  • film language,
  • American movies,
  • intercultural communication
  • ...More

How to Cite

Seracini, F. L. (2024). Value Metaphors in Films: A Corpus-based Analysis of the Representation of Core Values in American Movies. L’Analisi Linguistica E Letteraria, 31(3). Retrieved from


Metaphors are pervasive in everyday communication, shaping our understanding of abstract concepts and reflecting cultural norms. This paper investigates the role of metaphors in conveying values in the American Movie Corpus (Forchini 2021-), a collection of manually transcribed dialogues of 50 movies produced in the United States. Building upon the definitions of values by Kluckhohn (1951) and Schwartz (1992), the study explores how films mirror and transmit cultural beliefs.

The study has two main goals: firstly, to reveal the key values that American movies communicate through language, and secondly, to examine how these values are represented through metaphors.

To identify the core values, the study employed the Personal Values Dictionary (Ponizovskiy, Ardag, Grigoryan, Boyd, Dobewall, Holtz 2020). A corpus-based approach was then used to uncover and analyse metaphorical patterns underpinning those values (Stefanowitsch 2007).

The results suggest implications for domains such as intercultural communication, translation and second-language acquisition where deep understanding of the way reality is perceived in a different culture is crucial.


  1. Kluckhohn, Clyde. 1951. “Values and Value Orientations in the Theory of Action: An Exploration in Definition and Classification.” In Toward a general theory of action, edited by Talcott Parsons, Edward A. Shils, 388–433. Cambridge/London: Harvard University Press.
  2. Ponizovskiy, Vladimir, Murat Ardag, Lusine Grigoryan, Ryan Boyd, Henrik Dobewall, and Peter Holtz. 2020. “Development and Validation of the Personal Values Dictionary: A Theory-Driven Tool for Investigating References to Basic Human Values in Text.” European Journal of Personality 34: 885–902. doi:
  3. Stefanowitsch, Anatol. 2007. “Words and Their Metaphors: A Corpus-Based Approach.” In Corpus-based approaches to metaphor and metonymy, edited by Anatol Stefanowitsch and Stefan Th. Gries, 63-105. Berlin/New York: De Gruyter Mouton.
  4. Schwartz, Shalom H. 1992. “Universals in the Content and Structure of Values: Theoretical Advances and Empirical Tests in 20 Countries.” In Advances in Experimental Social Psychology. Vol. 25, edited by Mark P. Zanna, 1–65. San Diego/New York/Boston/London/Sydney/Tokyo/Toronto: Academic Press.