A Contrastive Study on Human Body Words Between English and Chinese

Topics: Language, Thought, English language Pages: 13 (4479 words) Published: December 12, 2010
As mankind life is based on material, human being gained experience from their practice. Our body experience in and with the world sets out the contours of what is meaningful to us and determinates the ways of our understanding. In short, experience assigns a central role to bodily experience in meaning, understanding, and reasoning and metaphor is based on human body experience. 1.1 The Definition of Human Body Words

Human body words usually refer to words that indicate some parts of a human body. Human body plays an important part not only in our life but also in the process of cognition. According to Colins Cobuild English Language Dictionary, human body is defined as “all their physical parts, including their head, limbs, flesh, and organs.” In anthropology, human body can be categorized into four parts and they are respectively head, neck, truck, and limb. Both in Chinese and English, human body words contain a great number of metaphorical phenomena. 1.2 The Theoretical Framework of This Thesis

The research of cognitive linguistics has revealed that metaphor was a common language phenomenon no matter in English or Chinese. Both English and Chinese are languages with many metaphorical words and expressions. Metaphor is contained not only in thinking but also in behavior. Lakoff (1980) thought that the basic function of metaphor was to provide the possibility so that people can understand an experience through another experience. (Lakoff, 1980 21)cross-domain metaphor is the cognitive center of human being’s activities such as generation, transferring and treatment for the meanings. Human beings’ cognitive process can be explained as follows that human beings often use their familiar concept to understand another concept in their fields. This is a process of mapping which uses a concept to map another concept so that a new field is built. Lakoff (1987) gave a definition of experientialism or experimental realism, which is different from objectivism in the definition of meaning. “……experiential realism characterizes meaning in terms of embodiment, that is, in terms of our collective biological capacities and our physical and social experiences as being functioning in our environment”(Lakoff 1987a, 266-267) Meaning is based upon experience, especially bodily experience. Human body plays a critical role in the interaction between the experiencing organism and the experienced environment. Metaphor is motivated and rooted in our bodily experience. It has been widely thought that body part terms are used to describe or characterize object parts and locative relations across languages. Besides, body parts are also found to denote temporal and logical relations. 1.3 Literature Review

As metaphor is quite important to human language and cognition, the analysis of metaphor has attracted the attention of scholars and experts interested for more than two thousand years. A great number of studies have been made on adopting the cognitive approach to metaphor. Detail analysis is made on the basis of current cognitive linguistics. These researches promote the development of contemporary linguistics and help scholars know more about metaphor. For example, Lakoff (1992) introduced the conceptual metaphor, nature of metaphor and the mechanism of metaphor. Earl R. Mac Cormac (1990) put forward an unified cognitive theory of metaphor. F. Ungerer and H J. Schmid (2001) made an detail introduction on cognitive linguistics including rhetoric, category and prototype. Lakoff, George, &Mark Johnson, (1980) introduced the concept of metaphor and orientational metaphor. In China, scholars made a great number of researches on human body words. Zhao Yanfang (2000) gave a detail introduction on the theories of cognitive linguistics. Hu Chun (2004) made an analysis on human body words from three aspects: the position of human body words in daily life, domain of human body words and the meaning stracture. Wen Xu (2007) used English...

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