Academic journal article International Education Studies

A Comparative Study on Basic Emotion Conceptual Metaphors in English and Persian Literary Texts

Academic journal article International Education Studies

A Comparative Study on Basic Emotion Conceptual Metaphors in English and Persian Literary Texts

Article excerpt


Metaphor becomes the subject of interest for many researchers in recent decades. The main purpose of the present study was to investigate the universality of emotion metaphorical conceptualization and the dominant pattern in English and Persian based on Kovecses's (2003) model for Linguistic expression of Metaphor. The emotions under study were happiness, anger, sadness, fear, and love. Lakoff and Johnson's (1980) Conceptual Metaphor Theory was adopted as a model for the purpose of comparison.

To do so, 782 emotive metaphorical expressions were compiled from different literary works and related articles on the field and Dictionaries in both languages. The study was conducted through two main phases of categorization and comparison. First expressions were categorized under their general and specific target and source domains. At the second phase, in each category, metaphorical expressions were compared with based on their conceptual metaphor and literal meaning. At this phase, three patterns of totally the same, partially the same, and totally different were identified.

Also the results of Chi-Square applied to these three patterns demonstrate that anger (χ^sup 2^ = 108.85, P<0/000) was the most universal emotion, whereas sadness (χ^sup 2^ = 31.40, P< 0/000) was the least universal emotion during this study. In addition, the dominant pattern at the end of analysis was the pattern of totally the same.

Keywords: Metaphorical expressions, Basic emotions, Conceptual metaphor, Literal meaning, Persian, English

1. Introduction

Everyday language is colored with metaphors. We use metaphors when we find it difficult to describe a thing or an experience. So, we borrow a word or a phrase which appear similar to the thing or experience we want to describe. Aristotle, as the first thinker to elaborate a theory of metaphor, considered metaphorical language both a powerful means of persuasion and decorative linguistic tool adding no additional information to the discourse (Gibbs, 1994, p.74). However, current approaches in cognitive linguistics emphasize the importance of metaphor in language, and they consider it an essential and indispensable phenomenon in both language and thought (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980; Gibbs, 1994).

Within the framework of the Cognitive Theory of Metaphor (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980; Lakoff, 1993) emotion metaphors figure prominently as one of the best researched domains (Kövecses 1990, 2000). In ordinary language, metaphors are used to make abstract notions more concrete. This cognitive process, "conceptualizing", is employed to give any abstract notion such as emotional states a more physical and tangible essence or feeling. Since emotions are unobservable internal states, they are par excellence target domain to be expressed by means of metaphor.

2. Universality and Variation in Emotion Conceptual Metaphors

Since cognitive linguists (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980) claim that metaphor is of the mind, the brain, and the body, many people who are familiar with Lakoff's view of metaphor expect that "conceptual metaphors" are largely or mostly universal. It seems that several unrelated languages may share several conceptual metaphors for particular emotion concepts. One of these emotion concepts is happiness. There are a large number of conceptual metaphors for happiness in English (Kovecses, 1991), but three of them stand out in importance: "HAPPINESS IS UP" "I'm feeling up", "HAPPINESS IS LIGHT" "She brightened up", and "HAPPINESS IS A FLUID IN A CONTAINER" "He's bursting with joy". The Chinese cognitive linguist Ning Yu (1995) found the same conceptual metaphors in Chinese as well.

According to Kovecses (2005) metaphors tend to be universal and near-universal at generic-level and specific-level metaphors tend to be different cross-linguistically. For instance, HAPPINESS IS UP is a generic-level metaphor and a specific-level version of the metaphor HAPPINESS IS UP in English is HAPPINESS IS BEING OFF THE GROUND. …

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