What is "meta-" for?


Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


This paper revisits Qian Zhongshu's theory of vehicular diversity and multivalency in an attempt to question the plausibility and necessity of postulating conceptual metaphors that have dominated so much of our contemporary discussions of metaphor. Using examples from both Chinese and English,it tries to show that conceptual metaphors are nothing more than linguists' meta-metaphorical constructs whose number could proliferate towards infinity due to the polysemic nature of figurative expressions.It also argues that lower-level semantic associations between the vehicle and the tenor are sufficient for explaining the existence or the emergence of a metaphor.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-152
Number of pages8
Journal外国语言文学 = Foreign Language and Literature Studies
Issue number2008(3)
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sept 2008


  • Qian Zhongshu
  • cognitive linguistics
  • metaphor study
  • rhetoric
  • two handles and several sides theory of metaphor


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