Chinese metaphors of thinking

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This article studies two of the four special cases, namely thinking is moving and thinking is seeing, that constitute the metaphor system the mind is a body in Chinese. An analysis of linguistic data suggests that these two conceptual metaphors are grounded in our common bodily experiences of spatial movement and vision. It shows that the conceptualization of mind and mental activities is fundamentally structured by metaphors consisting of mappings from the domain of body and bodily experiences. it is found that, while the Chinese expressions under analysis largely conform to the conceptual mappings originally derived from linguistic evidence in English (Lakoff and Johnson 1999), there exists a difference between these two languages that reflects a significant difference between the related cultures. That is, Western cultures' binary contrast between the heart, the seat of emotions, and the mind, the locus of thoughts, does not exist in traditional Chinese culture, where the heart is conceptualized as housing both emotions and thoughts. it is a case in which different cultural models interpret the functioning of the mind and the body differently.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-165
Number of pages25
JournalCognitive Linguistics
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Jan 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language


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