The Relevance of Conceptual Metaphor to the English Proficiency of Chinese College Students
|Course||Foreign Linguistics and Applied Linguistics|
|Keywords||conceptual metaphor English proficiency metaphoric competence conceptual fluency markedness|
Metaphor has been no longer only taken as a figure of speech, but also a figure of thought or cognitive mode. Metaphor is so pervasive in everyday life that our thought and action are fundamentally metaphorical in nature. Interest has grown in exactly the exploration of the forms, structure, functions of metaphor, and many research findings have serious implications for second language learning and teaching. Language educators seek to help language learners develop their metaphoric competence and their conceptual fluency. L2 learners are often found to“speak”with the formal structures of the target language, but they“think”in terms of their native conceptual systems. When their native conceptual systems coincide with those in the target language, L2 learners find it easy to learn the target language; when they do not, especially in understanding metaphorical expressions, L2 learners manifest an asymmetry between language form and conceptual content. What a student typically lacks here is conceptual fluency. However, to what extent conceptual fluency and conceptual metaphors can be further specified, to what extent the English proficiency of Chinese college students is correlated with their English metaphoric competence, and to what extent their English metaphoric competence is correlated with their conceptual fluency still remain questions.By comparing the results of the test on the English proficiency of Chinese college students with the results of the test on their English metaphoric competence, the present research finds a statistically significant and positive correlation between these two variables. It implies that those who score high in English proficiency test or College English Test (Band 4) can also score high in the test on their English metaphoric competence, and vice versa. And a statistically significant and positive correlation is also found between the English metaphoric competence of Chinese college students and their conceptual fluency, that is, those who score high in test on their conceptual fluency can also do the same in the test on their English metaphoric competence, and vice versa. While the conceptual metaphors based on the same conceptual systems in both native and target languages are easy to understand, they can not distinguish higher metaphoric competence from lower and better L2 learners from poorer. On this occasion, the understanding of the conceptual metaphors based on different conceptual systems, or in other words, conceptual fluency plays a key role in deciding the degree of improvement in both their metaphoric competence and their English Proficiency.Although the metaphoric competence in target language has ever been tested, there is still certain degree to improve the testing items. It is the first time to test conceptual fluency as far as we know, and also the first time for metaphoric competence and conceptual fluency to be tested simultaneously with the same testing items.Conceptual fluency tells about a kind of popular situation in second language acquisition. It was originally developed by Danesi, who, however, explained conceptual fluency in detail without a concise definition. Those who come across conceptual fluency for the first time have to refer to his elaboration by covering a long paragraph. The present thesis tries to give a brief and concise definition of conceptual fluency.Markedness, the inherent property of conceptual metaphor in the course of second language acquisition is theoretically explored on the basis of the empirical study. Conceptual metaphors are further subdivided into three types. The first type of conceptual metaphors is based on the same or nearly the same concepts or conceptual systems. The last two types based on differently or non-equivalent concepts or conceptual systems in both native language and target language turn out to be prominently correlated with the understanding of conceptual metaphors. Their statistical significance suggests the property of markedness of conceptual metaphor of its own. The conception of conceptually marked metaphors and conceptually unmarked metaphors will offer a fresh perspective to explore conceptual metaphors.