Publication details [#7299]

Li, Fuyin. 2003. The acquisition of metaphorical expressions, idioms, and proverbs by Chinese learners of English: A conceptual and image schema based approach. Hong Kong, China. 366 pp.
Publication type
Ph.D dissertation
Publication language


In this dissertation, the author argues for an "innovative" approach to the systematic learning of metaphorical expressions, idioms and proverbs, which is conceptual metaphor and image schema based (CM-IS-based). This approach is based on conceptual metaphor theory (Lakoff & Johnson 1980; Lakoff 1993), image schema theory (Johnson 1987), and on the empirical research of Gibbs (1992) and Gibbs et al (1990; 1995; 1997). Drawing on the above research, a hierarchical framework is established, which originates from embodied experiences, and surfaces in linguistic expressions, which include metaphorical expressions, idioms, and proverbs. The hierarchical framework consists of four levels: embodied experiences->image schemas->conceptual metaphors->linguistic expressions (including metaphorical expressions, idioms and proverbs). Because conceptual metaphors and image schemas have some specific cognitive features, the author claims that both conceptual metaphors and image schemas can facilitate the learning of those linguistic expressions organized by them. Supports for the claim have been identified from the following three sources of evidence; the Dual Coding Theory, the Psychological Reality of Image Schema, and the Psychological Reality of Hierarchical Structure. The effectiveness of the CM-IS-based approach to the learning of metaphorical expressions, idioms and proverbs is experimentally explored and examined by means of five studies with the participation of four hundred plus Chinese undergraduate students. Each study consists of a pre-test, a post-test, questionnaires, and a one-week delayed test. The design and the development of the learning materials were informed by cognitive linguistics theories and the subjects' characteristics, including their language proficiency. The present research represents a bold attempt to bridge a huge gap between the theoretical study of conceptual metaphors and image schemas in cognitive linguistics on the one hand and the practical applications of such theories in applied linguistics on the other. (Fuyin Li)