[Not in series 149] 2009
► pp. 135–152
This paper studies two Chinese body-part terms zhi ‘finger’ and zhang ‘palm’ as they are used in compounds and idioms to express abstract concepts. Primarily,zhi ‘finger’ is used to express intention, aim, guidance and direction whereas zhang ‘palm’ is used to refer to power and control. The metaphoric and metonymic expressions involved are based on two common acts with hands: pointing with the index finger and holding in the palm of the hand. A comparison between Chinese and English data reveals two differences. First, the conceptual metaphor control is holding in the palm of the hand is not richly manifested in English, although it is in Chinese. Second, the conceptual metaphor the finger is the doer is well manifested in English, but it is not realized in Chinese. These differences consist in the choice of a subpart (palm or finger) over the part (hand) as a result of cultural preferences. They reside, however, in a larger context of common grounding of meaning in bodily experiences.