Publication details [#10013]

Siahaan, Poppy. 2005. Did he break your heart or your liver? A contrastive study on metaphorical concepts from source domain ORGAN in English and in Indonesian.


In cognitive linguistics there is a growing interest in pursuing the question of how metaphors are used in cultural models (see, e.g., Quinn 1987). It is in this context that the present paper studies cultural models of the Indonesian concept of LIVER as the centre of both emotional and mental activities. In Indonesian, the word hati denotes primarily the liver organ but also means both HEART and MIND as it is understood in English. There are two aspects of the cultural model that I would like to present in this paper as the motivation for this conceptu-alization. First, there is the old ritual of liver divination in Indonesia, according to which the liver is regarded as the seat of life. In this tradition, humans’ characters and fates are be-lieved to be written on the livers by gods or divine spirits. Second, the ethnic religious be-liefs in Indonesia regard the liver as the part of the body in which the living soul is located. The LIVING SOUL, a concept different from the concept of BODY and SOUL in English, is understood according to the ethnic religious beliefs to be a person within a person, with his or her own will or wish independent from the human’s. A brief historical look at the LIVER concept in antiquity reveals that the conceptualization of the LIVER as the seat of life and soul was also very common among the ancient Babylonians, Assyrians, Etruscans, and, later, among the Hebrews, Greeks and Romans. By examining linguistic expressions in the present-day Indonesian language, known as Bahasa Indonesia, I demonstrate that these two almost forgotten and hardly practised cultural models of the LIVER as the centre of both emotional and mental activities are still reflected in the present-day Indonesian language. A comparison with the English HEART and MIND shows differences from and similarities with the Indonesian conceptualization of the LIVER.