Publication details [#10484]

Su, Lily I-wen. 2002. What can metaphors tell us about culture? British Journal for the History of Philosophy 3 (3) : 589–613. 25 pp.


Recent studies on metaphor have proved it to be an important language device that reflects the cognitive source of human thinking. These experientialists claimed that metaphors in our languages mirror our ordinary conceptual system and treat metaphors as conventionalized cognitive structure. Adopting the experientialists' view of interpreting metaphor cognitively as a mapping relation from a source domain to a target domain (Lakoff 1990), the present study explores how metaphors reflect different cultural information by investigating conceptual metaphors about MARRIAGE and THOUGHT AS FOOD in current Chinese. Using corpus data, we find that some of the familiar metaphors with which Chinese conceptualize marriage reflect cognitively the current Chinese view of marriage - MARRIAGE IS AN ONGOING JOURNEY, MARRIAGE IS BUSINESS, MARRIAGE IS GAMBLING, and MARRIAGE IS BONDING. Among the four, the conceptualization of MARRIAGE AS BUSINESS at 59.3% outweigh the others. As for the metaphor THOUGHT AS FOOD, four proposition-schemas are identified to be at work in our conceptualization: THE CONTENT OF THOUGHT IS THE INGREDIENT OF FOOD, THE QUALITY OF THOUGHT IS THE FLAVOR OF FOOD, THE FORMATION OF THOUGHT IS THE PREPARATION OF FOOD, THE COMPREHENSION OF THOUGHT IS THE DIGESTION OF FOOD. Such conceptual mappings match syntactic manifestations in terms of grammatical categories, which may bear theoretical significance for the study of metaphor. (Lily I-wen Su)