Academic journal article International Journal of English Linguistics

Conceptualizing Emotions through Metaphors in Fortress Besieged

Academic journal article International Journal of English Linguistics

Conceptualizing Emotions through Metaphors in Fortress Besieged

Article excerpt


Using conceptual metaphor theory (CMT), this article examines how metaphors of emotion are constituted in the Chinese novel Fortress Besieged (Wei Cheng). The article makes two important contributions to CMT and cognitive linguistics: a) it investigates the universality thesis of CMT, by assessing its tenets in relation to the Chinese language; and b) it analyses the textual use of metaphors of emotion, by drawing from a corpus extracted from a full-length literary narrative. The article considers the role of culture and geography in the development of language-specific conceptual metaphors, and focuses on the emotions of happiness (...), anger (...), sadness (...), and love (...).

Keywords: emotions, conceptual metaphors, Fortress Besieged

(ProQuest: ... denotes non-US-ASCII text omitted.)

1. Introduction

Traditionally metaphor has been viewed as a rhetorical and stylistic device. However, the publication of Lakoffand Johnson's seminal book Metaphors We Live By in 1980 marked the beginning of the cognitive era in metaphor study. These authors put forward the idea of "Conceptual Metaphor Theory" (CMT) for the first time, and claimed that "metaphor is pervasive in everyday life, not just in language but in thought and action. Our ordinary conceptual system, in terms of which we both think and act, is fundamentally metaphorical in nature." (p. 3). Therefore, instead of being an ornament to language, metaphor was promoted to a powerful tool that helps humans cognize the world.

Emotions, as an important aspect of human experience, are one of the focuses of studying human cognition. Studies on emotion have increased substantially in recent years and have become part of the subject matter of various scientific disciplines, including anthropology (Lutz, 1988; Lutz & White, 1986; Milton & Svasek, 2005), neurobiology (Heberlein & Adolphs, 2007; LeDoux, 1986, 1996), psychology (Bowles, 2006; Plutchik, 1994), philosophy (Goldie, 2000, 2010; Solomon, 1993) and linguistics (Athanasiadou & Tabakowska, 1998; Barcelona, 1986, 1995; J. Chen, 2007; King, 1989; Kövecses, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1995a, 1995b, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2005, 2008; Lakoffand Johnson, 1980; Lakoff& Kövecses, 1987; Niemeier & Dirven, 1997; Palmer & Occhi, 1999; Tissari, 2001, 2006a, 2006b, 2008, 2010; Wierzbicka, 1992, 1998, 1999, 2009; Yu, 1995, 1998, 2002). In linguistics, the development of cognitive linguistics has progressed research in this area. A number of cognitive linguistic studies (Barcelona, 2000, 2002; Fludernik, 2011; Gibbs, 1994, 2006; Gibbs & Steen, 1999; Johnson, 1987; Kövecses, 1986, 1988, 1990, 2000, 2002, 2005; Lakoff, 1990; Lakoff& Johnson, 1980; Lakoff& Turner, 1989; Turner, 1987) show that metaphor plays a significant role in conceptualizing emotions.

This paper will apply CMT to studying the emotion concepts in a modern Chinese novel Fortress Besieged. The objectives of the paper are to identify the categories of metaphors through which emotions are represented in Fortress Besieged, to test the usefulness of CMT for the study of literary texts and to contribute to the investigation of the universality of emotion metaphors from the Chinese perspective. A central claim of the studies conducted on the function of metaphor in conceptualizing emotions (Kövecses, l986, 1988, 1990, 1991, 2000; Lakoff, 1987; Lakoff& Johnson, 1980; Lakoff& Kövecses, 1987) is that human emotions, which are abstract in nature, are to a great extent conceptualized through metaphors grounded in bodily experiences. While this claim is meant to be universal, the evidence supporting it is mainly derived from English. Thus, this paper attempts to contribute to this claim from the Chinese perspective in order to find out whether emotions are also conceptualized metaphorically in a Chinese novel Fortress Besieged.

The paper will focus on "basic emotions" (D'Andrade, 1995; Ekman, 1999). …

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