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Metaphors for happiness in English and Mandarin Chinese

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Item Summary

Title: Metaphors for happiness in English and Mandarin Chinese
Authors: Polley, Carl Anthony
Keywords: figurative language
conceptual metaphor
corpus linguistics
cognitive science
Issue Date: Dec 2012
Publisher: [Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [December 2012]
Abstract: Patterns of conceptualization reflected in figurative language are motivated by embodied experience, and comparisons of emotion metaphors in English, Mandarin Chinese and other languages have shown widespread similarity in such metaphors crossculturally (Lakoff & Johnson 1980, 1999; King 1989; Yu 1996; Kövecses 2005). Nonetheless, we can also expect a large degree of variation in the patterns of organization and use of metaphor across languages and individuals (Lakoff 1987:336, Kövecses 2008, Yu 2009).
In this dissertation, I examine metaphors associated with the English term "happiness" and the Chinese term 幸福 (xingfu, 'happiness') through corpus analysis and behavioral experiments. The corpus analyses adopt elements of both Metaphor Pattern Analysis (MPA, Stefanowitsch 2006) and the version of the Metaphor Identification Procedure developed at Vrije Universiteit (MIPVU, Steen et al. 2010b) to characterize how conceptual metaphor structures the semantics of happiness in English and Mandarin Chinese. Aside from variation in source domain recruitment, English and Chinese are each biased toward separate poles of a conceptual dual for the event structure metaphor CHANGE OF STATE IS MOVEMENT, similar to the duality reported for relative motion in the TIME IS SPACE metaphor (Lakoff 1993, Boroditsky 2001, Fauconnier & Turner 2008:60; for review see Bergen, Polley & Wheeler 2010), whereby an ego can be conceptualized as moving to static events or, alternatively, events can be understood as moving in relation to a static ego.
The subsequent behavioral experiments elucidate the extent to which such divergences in mappings correspond with discernible differences in how English and Chinese speakers conceptualize happiness. The results of these experiments are discussed with reference to the principle of linguistic relativity, also commonly referred to as the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, namely, the notion that semantic structure as encoded in language conditions non-linguistic cognition, such that people of different cultures experience the world in systematically different ways.
Description: Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2012.
Includes bibliographical references.
Appears in Collections:Ph.D. - Linguistics

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