Research Overview

Prof Ahrens’ recent research has focused on corpora-based analyses, with a particular emphasis on examining the lexical choices made and the conceptual metaphors used by speakers with varying ideologies. This area of research contributes to understanding how these linguistic choices reflect a speaker’s worldview and their associated strategies to influence others to their points of view. In addition to these corpora-based analyses, Professor Ahrens also runs experiments using web-based systems to ascertain participants’ judgments about carefully constructed texts in order to better model how the conceptual metaphors used in those texts may influence reasoning. 

Prof Ahrens has authored or co-authored over 44 journal articles, including recent papers in PLoS One, Journal of Pragmatics, Metaphor & Symbol, and Applied Linguistics and she has had two Lingua papers selected as Editor’s Choice article. She has also authored or co-authored 26 book chapters and she edited one academic volume: Politics, Language and Conceptual Metaphors (Palgrave Macmillan). She has a total of 2,280 citations, 880 since 2018, and a h-index of 26. 

In the past 6 years, she has gained three UGC General Research Fund grants: Metaphor, Gender, and Persuasion: Influencing judgments through source domain manipulation; The Role of Metaphor in Reasoning; and Cross-linguistic Variation in Conceptual Metaphors. She also obtained a SCOLAR Grant for Children’s Literature in English Language Teaching for Primary Students in Hong Kong. 

Professor Ahrens is a member of the Editorial Board of Lingua (Elsevier), Metaphor and the Social World (Benjamins), Journal of Pragmatics(Elsevier) and Lingua Sinica (Sciendo). She is also a member of the Editorial Board for the book series Metaphor in Language, Cognition, and Communication (Benjamins). 

Professor Ahrens is the Chair of the Executive Board of the Association for Researching and Applying Metaphor, a registered UK charity (’18-’22). She was elected to the Hong Kong Academy of Humanities by her peers in 2015 and served as Vice-President  (’17-’18) and President (’18-’19). She is also an International Advisory Board member for the Metaphor Lab Amsterdam (’15-present) and served as a Board Member for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (’08-’21). She has delivered invited talks and keynote addresses in universities in the US, Italy, Taiwan, China, Singapore, the Netherlands, Japan, and will give a keynote address at the University of Bialystok, Poland in 2022 at the 15th Conference on Researching and Applying Metaphor.