Academic journal article Canadian Social Science

A Comparative Study of English and Chinese Animal "Rooster" Metaphor from the Cognitive Perspective

Academic journal article Canadian Social Science

A Comparative Study of English and Chinese Animal "Rooster" Metaphor from the Cognitive Perspective

Article excerpt


It is universally accepted that cognitive linguistics is a relatively new school of linguistics, and one of the most innovative and intriguing approaches to the study of language and thought. During the past two decades, this cognitive science entered into a new era, especially after Lakoff & Johnson came up with the conceptual metaphor. It argues that our understanding of the world is experiential rather than literal or direct corresponding to and external reality. Besides, our reasoning involves metaphorical inferences; our categories of entities are mostly metaphorical and imaginative. Metaphor is ubiquitous in our thought, action, human language as well as a significant cognitive instrument by which human beings perceive, categorize and conceptualize the world. Among them, animal metaphor is an important category for their rich images and intimate relationship with human beings. Thus the attributes of animals are inevitably mapped onto those human beings.

Many studies have been made about animal metaphor either from cognitive angle or cultural perspective. But animal metaphor is only taken as a whole subject to carry out different studies. Yet this paper will merely discuss metaphors on "rooster" in English and Chinese from cognitive perspective, which aims to contrast and discover the cognitive similarity and differentiation about rooster through a detailed analysis of metaphorical expressions in both languages, and at the same time this paper hopes to make a certain contribution in realizing high-quality cross-cultural communication.

Key words: Rooster; Metaphor; Comparative study; Cognitive perspective

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Undoubtedly, human beings and animals share too much in common like living environment, the food structure from plants or other animals' meat and so forth. And actually, human beings are animals in essence, which have been in close contact with many animals. "Rooster" is pretty familiar to human beings. Human beings must have a better understanding about their features. Therefore, many expressions on rooster are embodied in human language inevitably, which are reflected in the way of metaphors. Naturally, there exist many similarity and difference between English and Chinese. This paper will mainly explore their particular features; analyze their differences and similarities from the cognitive perspective.


1.1 Major Theories on Metaphor Study in West

Contemporary cognitive linguistics assumed that metaphor is deeply rooted in human cognitive structure. And metaphor exists both in linguistic level and the level of human thought.

According to Aristotle, metaphor is a kind of decoration and ornament in language (Song, 2009). Simultaneously, he pointed out metaphor is the application to one thing of a name belonging to another thing. And he described in detail: "metaphor is the transference of a name from the object to which it has a natural application; this transference can take place from genus to species or species to genus or species to species or by analogy". His interpretation of metaphor as the mechanism of renaming and transference that is later developed into "Comparison Theory", which exerted great impact on the traditional study of metaphor.

In the 1st century, Quintillion proposed his theory of substitution on metaphor. According to the Substitution Theory, metaphor is a kind of rhetorical phenomenon that another word substitutes for a literal term and the meaning of the metaphor could be discovered by replacing the literal term. Metaphor was also regarded as decorative or rhetorical device (Black, 1962).

Richards (1936) and Max Black (1962) came up with the Interaction Theory of metaphor. This viewpoint was first put forward by I. A. Richards in his Philosophy of Rhetoric (1936). He holds that essence of metaphor lies in an interaction between a metaphorical expression and the context in which it is used. …

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