Chapter published in:Body Part Terms in Conceptualization and Language Usage
Edited by Iwona Kraska-Szlenk
[Cognitive Linguistic Studies in Cultural Contexts 12] 2020
► pp. 216–245
Keeping an eye on body parts
Cultural conceptualizations of the ‘eye’ in Hungarian
The notion of embodiment refers to the bodily basis of human perceptions about the environment, and also structures our conceptual system (Gibbs 2005; Johnson 1987). This is most evidently manifested in the conceptualizations of body parts and organs and their metaphorical extension to various target domains, illustrated by the metaphor of understanding/knowing is seeing, which was considered by Lakoff and Johnson (1980, 1999) and Sweetser (1990) being universally prevalent. This claim was supported by a range of cross-linguistic studies in English (Alm-Arvius 1993; Danesi 1990; Ibarretxe-Antuñano 1999, 2002; Sweetser 1990; Viberg 2008; Yu 2008), but also debated by others (Evans and Wilkins 2000; Sharifian 2011), pointing to the fact that the conceptual links between perceptual modalities and abstract domains are grounded in cultural models (Kövecses 2000; Sharifian et al. 2008; Yu 2008), hence they can be regarded as cultural conceptualizations (Sharifian 2017).In line with the cross-linguistic research on the metaphorical mappings of vision, the present chapter aims at unveiling the conceptualizations of Hungarian szem ‘eye’, in order to test whether the expressions that derive from it primarily represent the eye as the seat of thinking/knowing/understanding. According to the results, it is argued that beside the conceptualizations of perception, emotion and interpersonal power, the understanding is seeing metaphor is present in the Hungarian expressions. However, conceptualizations of the eye in Hungarian are also connected to cultural values. For example, some expressions such as szemfedél ‘eye-cover’, szemmel verés ‘beating with the eyes’ and szemfényvesztés ‘deception, subtleness’ are based on cultural schemas. The chapter further demonstrates that, as part of conceptualization, some spatial orientations attached to the eye may take on certain evaluations, as exemplified in the case of szeme közé ‘into between his eyes’ and its dominantly negative attribution. In this way, the chapter is a contribution to prove the interface between body, language and culture.
Keywords: body part, cultural conceptualization, cultural schema, eye, Hungarian
Published online: 23 March 2020
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