Publication details [#10014]

Siahaan, Poppy. 2007. Understanding abstract concepts through body parts in Indonesia.
Publication type
Unpublished manuscript
Publication language
Place, Publisher
Bremen, Germany


The objective of this paper is to shed light on certain specific cultural models of Indonesian speakers and to contribute to a greater understanding of different cultural universes. The mapping of the eye can be both cultural specific and common bodily based. First, the usage of the eye, combined with the liver, e. g. "mata hati" (eye liver), is seen as the crux of both emotional and mental faculties, which is quite specific to Indonesian culture. Other usage of the eye is similar to English. The head is not understood as the seat of mental activities but is more used metonymically as the highest position in a hierarchy. Nevertheless, few examples from the corpus, give evidence of the use of the head as a body part that thinks. Some other external body parts in Indonesian seem to be used similarly in English. Obviously, the conceptualisations of these body parts are more based on physical reactions to the emotions (Yu, 2002). Apparently, physical reactions to certain emotions can go beyond the phenomena of cultural specificity. For example, the face is used metonymically to conceptualise the feeling of pride or shame. The teeth are used metaphorically to conceptualise the feeling of boldness (e. g. "unjuk gigi" (to show teeth: to show power). The ear is associated metonymically with the feeling of offence. In order to achieve its objective the paper uses not only dictionary, but also data compiled from present-day on-line magazine. (Poppy Siahaan)