Article published In:International Journal of Language and Culture: Online-First Articles
Conceptualization of Sar (Head) in Persian figurative expressions
Since Lakoff and Johnson (1999) proposed ‘Embodiment theory’ in Cognitive Linguistics, the relationship between language and body parts has been a subject of research for many years. This paper examines the conceptualization of body part ‘head’ in 305 Persian figurative expressions and proverbs in two related Iranian dictionaries. Using the ‘Cultural Conceptualization’ model introduced by Sharifian (2011), this article demonstrates how sar, the Persian equivalent to ‘head’, is conceptualized to convey various notions such as mental activity, emotions, personality traits, social behavior and state, time, place, death, measurement, leader, and success. The conceptualization of body parts in a language can be bounded to that language and often rooted in some cultural background; however, this topic has received scant attention among scholars of Persian language. Apparently, no comprehensive studies on the conceptualization of head in Persian figurative expressions have been conducted so far, thus this research is an attempt to fill this gap. The analysis of the afore-mentioned word revealed that it can convey several meanings; these include mental activity, emotions, human traits, social action and status, time, location, death, measurement, leadership and success. The variety of meanings stems from contexts within which the word is presented.
Keywords: embodiment theory, body parts conceptualizations, cultural conceptualization, cognitive linguistics
- 2.Theoretical assumptions
- 2.1Cultural conceptualization
- 2.2Conceptualization of body parts
- 3.Methodology and data analysis
- 4.1 sar (‘head’) and conceptualizations of mental activity
- 4.2 Sar (‘head’) and conceptualization of emotions and feelings
- 4.3 sar (‘head’) and conceptualization of character traits
- 4.4 Sar (‘head’) and conceptualization of social actions, status and relations
- 4.5 Sar (‘head’) and conceptualization of time, place and orientation
- 4.6 Sar (‘head’) and conceptualization of measurement
- 4.7 Sar (‘head’) and conceptualization of leadership/better/success
- 4.8 Sar (‘head’) and conceptualization of death
Published online: 7 November 2023
(2011) The apocalypse happens when the feet take the position of the head: Figurative uses of ‘head’ and ‘feet’ in Turkish”. In Z. Maalej & N. Yu (Eds.), Embodiment via body parts: Studies from various languages and cultures (pp. 241–25). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Brenzinger, M., & Kraska-Szlenk, I.
Enfield, N. J., & Wierzbicka, A.
Greenough, J. B., & Kittredge, G. L.
(1920) Words and their ways in English speech. New York/London: Macmillan. (Reprint of 1901, available on-line at [URL])
Heine, B. & Kuteva, T.
Heine, B. & Song, K.
(1999) Metaphor: Does it constitute or reflect cultural models?. In R. W. Gibbs & G. J. Steen (Eds.), Metaphor in cognitive linguistics (pp. 167–188). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Kraska-Szlenk, I. & et al.
(2011) Cultural conceptualizations and language. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Sharifian, F., Dirven, R., Yu, N., & Niemeier, S.
(2011) Head and eye in German and Indonesian figurative uses. In Z. Maalej and N. Yu (Eds), Embodiment via body parts (pp. 93–114). Amsterdam/Philadelphia. John Benjamins.
Sperber, D., & Hirschfeld, L.
(2013) The body in anatomy: Looking at ‘head’ for the mind-body link in Chinese. In: Caballero, R., & Diaz-Vera, J. (Eds.), Sensuous cognition explorations into human sentience: Imagination, (e) motion and perception (applications of cognitive linguistics series, 22). Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 53–73.