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Metaphors for thinking in modern Mandarin Chinese : a corpus study Vorontsova, Iuliia


This paper studies the system of conceptual metaphors for thinking in Modern Mandarin Chinese. It looks into the frequency, types of metaphors and the ways they are realized in Language. The present research concentrates on five commonly used words for thinking, namely 想 xiang, 认 ren, 觉 jue, 觉得 juede, and 认为 renwei. The expressions about thinking used in the research are taken from spoken and non-spoken Modern Mandarin Chinese corpora. All examples were reviewed and metaphorical examples were identified and classified according to the metaphor types as distinguished by Lakoff and Johnson 1999. Series of research done in the sphere of cognitive science proved that some expressions about thinking are generally structured by conceptual metaphor based on the source domain of our embodied experience. However it was unclear how often metaphoric expressions are used in language compared to the non-metaphoric ones. The paper also looks into the difference in metaphor use in spoken and non-spoken Mandarin Chinese, metaphors of heart and head as the locus of thinking in Chinese. The research has shown approximately every fifth common expression about thinking is metaphorical, while container and path metaphor are most widely used to talk about thinking. Moreover, a large number of metaphors in expressions about thinking are realized through grammatical patterns, such as resultative constructions, and are generally not perceived as metaphorical. The results suggest that possibly different types of metaphor dominate in thinking expressions in Chinese and other languages. The research also indicates that in learning and teaching Chinese as a foreign language, conceptual metaphor awareness is necessary for grammar literacy and language proficiency, since a large number of fixed metaphoric constructions are realized in grammar. Generally the paper suggests that while most metaphors for thinking are universal, there are often differences in the frequency and the ways to use the metaphors. Thus such cultural variations can often result in different conceptualizations of an abstract concept or higher sensitivity to one type of metaphor but not the other.

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