Dissertation > Language, writing > FOREIGN > English > Semantics,vocabulary,semantic

Conceptual Metaphors in English and Chinese Food Idioms

Author XieHongMei
Tutor ZhangWeiYou;DuanShaoMin
School Central China Normal University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords English food idioms Chinese food idioms conceptual metaphors
CLC H313
Type Master's thesis
Year 2013
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This thesis makes a contrastive study of conceptual metaphors in English and Chinese food idioms in order to achieve three purposes. In the first place, the thesis attempts to testify Conceptual Metaphor Theory and tries to verify that food idioms are rich in conceptual metaphors. In the second place, this thesis aims at finding out most important conceptual metaphors in Chinese and English food idioms and their similarities and differences by making a comparison. In the third place, this study endeavors to explore the underlying reasons for these similarities and differences from the perspectives of culture and human bodily experience.This thesis adopts both qualitative and quantitative methods. Qualitative methods are indispensable at the beginning to figure out what will be counted as metaphor. First, metaphors from English and Chinese food idioms are collected in the light of Gerard Steen’s five-step procedure for metaphor identification. The procedure is as follows:1) identifying metaphorical focus;2) identifying metaphorical idea;3) identifying metaphorical comparison;4) identifying incomplete propositions;5) identifying metaphorical mapping (Steen2002:393). Second, the author attempts to categorize these metaphors and abstract conceptual metaphors from the corpus in the light of Conceptual Metaphor Theory, and the frequency of metaphorical expressions, conceptual metaphors and their source domains in the corpus is measured. Third, differences and similarities between conceptual metaphors in English and Chinese food idioms are analyzed and possible reasons for them are introduced.By analyzing English and Chinese food idioms, the study summarizes fourteen major conceptual metaphors in the corpus, namely HUMAN BEINGS ARE FOOD, HUMAN EMOTION IS FOOD, HUMAN SPEECH/BEHAVIOR IS FOOD, LIFE IS FOOD, BENEFIT/LOSS IS FOOD, IMPORTANCE/VALUE IS FOOD, SITUATION IS FOOD, KNOWLEDGE IS FOOD, MONEY IS FOOD, RESULT IS FOOD, ENERGY IS FOOD, HUMAN TEMPERAMENT IS FOOD, NATION IS FOOD, LIVELIHOOD IS FOOD, which evidences the ubiquity of conceptual metaphors and makes a complement to Conceptual Metaphor Theory. The study also finds that most of the conceptual metaphors account for different percentages in the corpus, and that the four most important conceptual metaphors in English and Chinese data are almost the same, and that the least important conceptual metaphors are different. Moreover, it is found that the most important source domains are the same, i.e. the food domain, and that the proportion of food idioms with their conceptual metaphors mapping from more than one of the five source domains to the target domain in Chinese data is much larger than that in English data. In addition, the study also explores the factors underlying these similarities and differences of the conceptual metaphors, which indicates common bodily experiences resulting in the similarities between the conceptual metaphors in English and Chinese food idioms and different bodily experiences and culture-specific traditions leading to the differences.Idioms, essential part of language, have been used through ages and embodied a wide variety of metaphorical expressions and conceptual metaphors. Food and related experiences are the most basic experiences of human beings, so a large number of idioms related to food come into being and are employed to conceptualize various target domains by means of conceptual metaphors. Different countries are endowed with similar or different living and geographical conditions, which brings about the similarities and differences in food idioms and therefore the similarities and differences in conceptual metaphors. Consequently, it is worthwhile to make a contrastive study of food idioms in different languages. This thesis helps better understanding of English and Chinese cultures and ways of thinking, which is crucial to cross-cultural communication. Additionally, the study assists language learners in improving their understanding food idioms and using food idioms properly.

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