Academic journal article Canadian Social Science

Fictive Motion in Chinese and English Tourist Guidebooks

Academic journal article Canadian Social Science

Fictive Motion in Chinese and English Tourist Guidebooks

Article excerpt


This study focuses on the usage of fictive motion in tourist guidebooks. The analysis for the study draws on the theories of image schema and metaphorical extension (Johnson, 1987; Lakoff, 1987 & 1989). Fictive motion is often used to depict the features of natural scenery and the movement of time. We concentrate on the spatial description of fictive motion with data taken from official tourist guidebooks for seven National Parks in Taiwan. Both the narrations in Chinese and in English versions are analyzed. From the comparison, we attempt to assist tourist comprehension of the narratives in tourist guidebooks. The research results indicate that fictive motion description is often used in the depiction of linear movement or for the location of scenic spots, as for example with The river starts from the mountain in English and yan2 shi2 huan2 rao4 si4 zhou1 'the rock surrounded' in Chinese. There are varied applications of fictive motion in Chinese and English, but fictive motion in both languages also shares common characteristics in spatial description.

Key Words: Fictive motion; Tourist guidebooks; Image schema; Metaphorical extension; Spatial description

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What makes a tourist guidebook more understandable? When reading a tourist guidebooks, what are the cognition processes we deploy to form mental images of the scenery? This research is about cognitive linguistic differences in depictions in tourist guidebooks in English and Chinese. The data sources are tourist guidebooks from seven of the most famous and most frequently visited National Parks in Taiwan, which contain both Chinese and English versions. The main idea of doing the present study is to compare the tourist guidebooks in English and in Chinese to see the difference of fictive motion used in both languages. From the main data source, we got 287 articles introducing the scenery of the National park in Chinese and English. Each article contains more than five descriptions that fictive motion verbs are applied. The purpose of this study is to show the cognitive processes in spatial description, and give a comparison of narrative writing in tourist guidebooks. The analysis shows how fictive motion verbs help readers understand the linguistic cognitive process interacting with the environment. They can also help us imagine and understand the direction and the spatial relation more easily.

Motion verbs are verbs that show motion and action in the verb itself. For example, Peter runs along the river. The verb run is a motion verb which requires a subject to perform the action. However, fictive motions refer to descriptions of the embodied line of sight visual motion of the speaker through motion verbs without explicit motions in descriptions used for narrative writing (Matlock, 2004). As Talmy (2000) points out, in fictive motion, the subject itself does not move. For example, The fence runs from the barn to the house. The fence does not perform the action. It does not move. What actually moves is "the locus of visual or mental attention." This motion follows the source-path-goal schema. When a narrow object is in sight, people tend to scan it along its length, from one end (the source, say, the barn) to the other end (the goal, say, the house). Another typical example is The road goes along the mountain. It is known that the road can not perform the action go. The road has its location, however, it cannot go anywhere else. Fictive motion verbs are often used in order to describe time and space. For example, Time flows and The river goes along the mountain. This study focuses on fictive motions used to describe the geographical scenery in tourist guidebooks from the point of view of the speaker or viewer, placing the reader into the consciousness of the tourist guidebooks on the spot. Examples are given to show the different usage and collocations of verbs in Chinese and English. …

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