Dissertation > Language, writing > Chinese > Writing,rhetoric

The Intercultural Study on Space-Time Metaphor in English and Chinese

Author ShaoLe
Tutor SuiHuiLi
School Harbin Normal University
Course Foreign Linguistics and Applied Linguistics
Keywords space metaphor space-time metaphor intercultural comparison Chinese and English time orientation
Type Master's thesis
Year 2011
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The study of metaphor has lasted for a long time. Metaphor has been studied systematically Since the ancient time of Aristotle, the studies of which reached many aspects including rhetoric views, traditional views, interaction theory, pragmatic approach, and cognitive views. It was considered that all metaphors had literal meanings and were used by specialists for purposes such as to persuade people or to express an imaginary world. Metaphor had been treated in the western tradition as a linguistic device. In 1980, Metaphors We Live By, written by Lakoff was published, since that time, the study of metaphor stepped into a totally new era. Lakoff’s conceptual metaphor is the theoretical foundation of this thesis, claimed that metaphor is not just a matter of language, but that it governs our ordinary conceptual system More specifically, the term of image-schema which derives from our daily experience and functions as the cognitive basis of metaphor is indispensable, metaphorical mapping is the most important term, which is regarded as the essential part of the working mechanism of metaphors and which makes the metaphorical extensions of spatial domains onto other target domains possible and feasible.In another way, the metaphorical mappings cross different domains also prove asymmetric character, that’s the reason why it should be attributed to different cultural models of traditions between Chinese and English. The reasons for symmetric features should be the common experiential grounding, either physical or environmental.Time is an abstract concept, and it is difficult for people to represent and reason about it in its own terms. According to the cognitive linguistic hypothesis, space provides the basis for human beings to conceptualize time, and time is a metaphor of space. In human languages, abstract notions of time are mainly expressed metaphorically in terms of spatial concepts. It can be said that metaphorical representation of time in spatial terms is a universal feature of human languages, which well reflects the universality of human thinking.Researchers at home and abroad have done in-depth research on the TIME AS SPACE metaphor from different perspectives and aspects. Findings of such researches suggest that in specific culture, time is conceived as having spatial orientation, and the way of conceptualizing the past and the future is relative across languages(see Alverson, 1994; Nunez. And Sweetser,2006; Radden,2003). In English, it is generally believed that the future time is in the front and the past time is at the behind. Thus, in temporal cognition, the English observer/speaker always faces the future. However, as far as the Chinese observer’s orientation is concerned, different scholars hold different views, and up to now no agreement has been attained.Based upon the current research, this paper, within a framework of the contemporary theory of metaphor, attempts to make a comparative study of the TIME AS SPACE metaphor in English and Chinese, particularly centering upon the exploration of the observer’s orientation in temporal cognition. The study purpose is to discuss the cognitive universality and variation in metaphorical organization of time as space between English and Chinese. In addition several explanations of how the commonality and variation may have arisen are also presented to prove the claims that abstract concepts are partially metaphorical, and the metaphorical mappings are grounded in human bodily experience and restrained by cultural models.

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