Author: Zhao, Qingqing
Title: Synaesthesia, metaphor, and cognition : a corpus-based study on synaesthetic adjectives in Mandarin Chinese
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2018
Subject: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Chinese language -- Semantics
Mandarin dialects
Pages: xiii, 212 pages
Language: English
Abstract: Linguistic synaesthesia involving description of one sensory modality in terms of concepts from another sensory modality, such as sweet voice and 冷色 leng3 se4 'cold color', is employed across discourse types (i.e., poetic and ordinary), time periods (i.e., synchronic and diachronic), and language families (e.g., Indo-European, Sino-Tibetan, and Semitic). The kind of language use has, however, not received much attention in linguistic research, although manifesting as mapping from one bodily domain to another bodily domain would pose challenges to Conceptual Metaphor Theory and the theory of embodiment. This thesis thus aimed to conduct a systematic and comprehensive lexical semantic study on linguistic synaesthesia of Mandarin sensory adjectives from a corpus-based approach, to explore the tendencies of Mandarin synaesthesia, and to examine the theoretical implications of linguistic synaesthesia. This study proposed a linguistic synaesthesia identification procedure (LSIP) to extract synaesthetic data for Mandarin sensory adjectives from the Sinica corpus, which was adapted from Pragglejaz Group (2007)'s well-established metaphor identification procedure (MIP). The proposed identification procedure for linguistic synaesthesia was demonstrated to be also applicable to other languages from other corpora. Based on the distribution of the collected synaesthetic usages of Mandarin sensory adjectives, the study found that Mandarin synaesthesia exhibited directionality mapping from more embodied senses to less embodied ones, analogous to the attested patterns of linguistic synaesthesia in Indo-European, Hebrew, and Indonesian languages. The directionality of Mandarin synaesthesia is, however, tendencies-based. In addition, Mandarin synaesthesia was attested to show language-specific characteristics when compared to the established tendencies of English synaesthesia, hence inconsistent with the proposal of cross-lingual universality of synaesthetic patterns. The distribution and directionality of Mandarin synaesthesia demonstrated that neither the embodiment account nor the biological association account of linguistic synaesthesia could be fully supported. The thesis thus suggested an incorporated theoretical model containing both embodiment mechanisms and biological mechanisms, to account for the synaesthetic tendencies of Mandarin sensory adjectives and the language-specific characteristics of linguistic synaesthesia in Mandarin Chinese. Besides, this study has shown that linguistic synaesthesia is a type of metaphor as a linguistic realization of conceptual metaphors, which should be taken into consideration by Conceptual Metaphor Theory. The thesis therefore argued for a finer-grained account of embodiment covering the notions of the degree of embodiment and the type of embodied events, to refine Conceptual Metaphor Theory and the theory of embodiment.
Access: open access

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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/9509