Dissertation > Language, writing > Chinese > Writing,rhetoric

A Cross-Cultural Study of Metaphors of Happiness in English and Chinese

Author ZhuYanHong
Tutor SuXiaoJun
School Suzhou University
Course Foreign Linguistics and Applied Linguistics
Keywords cross-cultural study metaphor of happiness emotion metaphor conceptual metaphor theory
Type Master's thesis
Year 2011
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Metaphors are pervasive in natural languages and they reflect the abstract way of human thinking. People usually regard emotions as the most universal and important aspect of human experience and express their abstract emotions with metaphors. Many studies have been conducted on emotion metaphors both at home and abroad. However, cross-cultural studies of happiness metaphors are virtually nonexistent. In this thesis, therefore, a systematic study of happiness metaphors in English and Chinese is conducted in a cross-cultural context based on the theoretical framework of conceptual metaphor theory.This thesis aims to explore the relationship between culture and emotion metaphors through a study of conceptual metaphors of happiness in English and Chinese. It is found out that both English and Chinese metaphorically conceptualize happiness in such similar ways as“HAPPINESS IS UP”,“HAPPINESS IS LIGHT”and“HAPPINESS IS FLUID IN A CONTAINER.”The similarities are grounded in similar physical and cultural experiences. However, there cannot always be a one-to-one relationship between English and Chinese due to different cultural contexts. Happiness metaphors in English and Chinese are at the same time influenced by particular cultural contexts in which conceptual metaphors are embedded. For instance, in English it is presumed that HAPPINESS IS BEING OFF THE GROUND, while in Chinese it is believed that HAPPINESS IS FLOWER IN THE HEART. Differences like this are derived from different cultural models in which English and Chinese emotion metaphors are conditioned. The human experience takes place within a vast background of cultural presuppositions, which leads to the fact that metaphors are in heavy debts to cultures.A cross-cultural study of metaphors of happiness in English and Chinese not only opens a new window for the cognitive study of emotion metaphors but also provides a new perspective for cross-cultural teaching and learning.

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