A cognitive approach to spatial metaphors in English and Chinese

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A cognitive approach to spatial metaphors in English and Chinese

 

Author: Lan, Chun
Title: A cognitive approach to spatial metaphors in English and Chinese
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2000
Subject: Metaphor
English language -- Rhetoric
Chinese language -- Rhetoric
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Dept. of English
Pages: 253 leaves : ill. ; 30 cm
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b1532089
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/2461
Abstract: This research adopts the cognitive linguistic framework developed by Lakoff (1987, 1993) and Langacker (1987, 1997) in carrying out a comparative analysis of spatial metaphors in English and Chinese. By taking the cognitive approach to metaphor, this study is subscribed to the view that metaphorical thinking is part of the cognitive processes through which the human mind conceptualizes the world. By focusing on spatial metaphors for investigation, this study assumes that spatial metaphors, through which many of our fundamental concepts are structured, play an especially indispensable role in our abstract thinking. The study examines the similarities and differences of the metaphorical extensions of four image schematic concepts, namely UP, DOWN, SHANG and XIA. Two groups of data are collected and analyzed, i.e. lexicographical data obtained from dictionaries and corpora data. Lexicographical data is adopted so that the metaphorical extensions of the four concepts under concern as reflected in the lexicon can be discovered; corpora data is adopted so that the distributions of those metaphorical extensions as reflected in real life English and Chinese can be revealed. Through both qualitative and quantitative analysis, the study has found out that: (1) All the four concepts under investigation are mainly used to structure the same four abstract target domains, namely STATES, QUANTITY, TIME and SOCIAL HIERARCHY. (2) A common tendency emerges from both the lexicographical data and the corpora data, which seems to suggest that in both English and Chinese, upward trajectories are linked with things considered to be desirable in the culture and downward trajectories are linked with things considered to be undesirable in the culture. (3) For all the four concepts, there has also been noticed an elaboration from vertical dimension to horizontal dimension. (4) Remarkable similarities mark the metaphorical extensions of UP/DOWN and SHANG/XIA. The findings of this study suggest that there may exist a common spatial metaphorical system across Chinese and English. The cognitive linguistic claims that our abstract reasoning is at least partially a metaphorical version of image-schematic reasoning and that metaphorical mappings are grounded in our bodily experience are also reinforced.

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