A corpus-based synchronic comparison and diachronic interpretation of lexicalized emotion metaphors in English and Chinese

  • Shixiong, George WU

Student thesis: PhD Thesis (Lingnan)


This study is a corpus-based contrastive study of the cross-language diachronic changes and synchronic variations of lexicalized emotion metaphors (LEMS) in English and Chinese within the framework of cognitive linguistics. Since it is based on a series of basic assumptions of the Lakoffian Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT), it is also expected to prove or improve them by making this cross-cultural comparative study of LEMS in English and Chinese. Therefore this study aims at not only the diachronic changes and synchronic variations of LEMS but also the cultural factors underlying them. By applying CMT in the analysis of the corresponding data of LEMS in English and Chinese, and the method of comparative etymology to explore the cultural influences on the variations over the metaphor themes of LEMS in the two languages, this study has achieved the following findings:

(1) Both embodied and non-embodied metaphors are possibly universal in different languages; (2) The cross-language variations of emotion metaphors are often characterized by the cultural variations of the prototypical source concept at the basic category level in different cultures; (3) The commonality and specificity of a metaphor theme in different languages are closely related to the levels of generality of the metaphor theme; (4) Although to a great extent our thinking and ideology are determined by our bodies and the metaphors that they give rise to, or vice versa, the em-minded cultural notions are the important ingredient producing the cross-language variations over the themes of emotion metaphors. It can thus be inferred that metaphor themes are cultural and ideological constructs to some extent;(5) Both the embodied physiological experiences and the em-minded cultural notions play an important role in the conceptualization of emotions; (6) The embodied conceptualization of emotion is sometimes subject to the em-minded cultural notions; (7) There exist three different types of metonyms underlying the conceptualization of emotions in English and Chinese; Based on these important findings, it proposes a three types of metonymy model which functions better in generalizing the different metonymies underlying the conceptualization of emotions in English and Chinese. In addition, this study opens the way for applying the semiotics and cognitive metaphor theory to the studies of metaphors in the etymological structures of LEMS in English and Chinese which might be of great importance for the future development of CMT.
Date of Award2007
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Department of English
SupervisorAndrew Peter GOATLY (Supervisor)

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