A conceptual metaphor may have various meanings in different languages, and usually contains cultural background. Based on cognitive approach, this paper aims to study Chinese metaphor through analyzing four conceptual metaphors of four typical plants in traditional Chinese poetry. This article also discusses why these ancient metaphors can still be used commonly in modern Chinese language. At the same time, through analyzing these metaphors, relevant implicating Chinese cultural aspects are described.
Key words: Discursive metaphor; Ancient Chinese poetry; Love; Plant
LOVE is A PLANT metaphor is quite common to most Chinese speakers. Consider the way native speakers of Chinese often talk about love ~ either their own love, emotions in love and lovers, or these love-relatives of others: a couple of lovers might say that they met each other occasionally in a café, and it seems to plant a seed for their love. Then, they made a few appointments, which encouraged their love to germinate rapidly. Afterwards, they became lovers and drown themselves into a love flower ocean. They firmly believed their relationship was growing well and strongly, and would flower and fruit in the near future. Unfortunately, the love withered away. What I show above is a small sample of all possible linguistic expressions of LOVE is A PLANT conceptual metaphor. The use of phrases above, such as to plant a seed, to germinate, to draw someone into a love flower ocean, to grow, to flower and fruit, and to wither away would be thought by most Chinese to be obvious cases of the plant concept for everyday purposes.
In spite of the metaphors used in ordinary Chinese, there are a lot of plant species as metaphor concepts describing love, which appears to be more frequent in Chinese literature, especially poetry, than everyday language. However, in modern Chinese language, a few plant species in ancient Chinese poetry used to be conceptual metaphors have been conventionalized. Why can these metaphors be used commonly in ancient even though modern China? This essay will focus on cognitive approach to analyze these conceptual metaphors of four typical plants in traditional Chinese poetry. In this paper, firstly, cognitive metaphor theory will be reviewed and methodology will be introduced. The second part will explain Chinese literary metaphorical expressions through four plant iconographies, and the cultural influence on the uniqueness of Chinese literary metaphor will also be considered. Finally, this essay will proposed some problems in the conclusion.
1. METAPHOR THEORY IN THE COGNITIVE LINGUISTIC VIEW AND METHODOLOGY
1.1 Metaphor Theory in the Cognitive Linguistic View
Why do people draw heavily on the domain of love plant in their effort to comprehend? In the cognitive linguistic view, they do so because thinking about the abstract concept of love is facilitated by the more concrete concept of plant. Further stated that people usually use metaphor to make some abstract of physical concepts (source domains) facilitated by more concrete concepts (target domains), which is easy and helpful to understand. But how does target domain is understood in terms of target domain? Actually, there are a set of mappings between the source and the target domain, which means that elements of the source domain correspond to elements of the target domain. For example, let us take the LOVE is A PLANT conceptual metaphor first. The sentence the relationship will flower and fruit suggests that future happy ending of lover's relationship are conceptually equated with a plant's flowering and fruiting. On the other hand, cognitive linguistics claims that the certain sources we select are motivated. In addition to pre-existing similarity, these metaphors are also based on and a variety of human experience, including correlations in experience, nonobjective similarity, biological and cultural roots shared (Kövecses, 2000, pp. …