Mapping in Metaphor: A Cognitive Study of “Wall” Metaphor in Chinese and English


  • Shilong Tao Hunan University
  • Demei Yang Sun Yat-sen University



Metaphor, a pervasive feature of language, refers to an imaginative way of describing something by referring to something else. This paper, based on the mapping theory in conceptual metaphor, runs a comparative study on “wall” metaphor in Chinese and English from the perspective of cognitive linguistics. It firstly analyzes the metaphorical expressions of “wall” in Chinese and English, and then explores their similarities and differences to seek for the underlying reasons. The collected data are from authoritative corpus and dictionaries, like CCL, COCA, BNC, BCC, etc. By grouping “wall” metaphor into human domain (people’s type, talent, personality, behavior, body, emotion) and object domain (concrete and abstract), the investigation shows that there are mainly 18 different metaphorical meanings in Chinese, while 14 in English. In human domain, the Chinese “wall” metaphor enjoys solely as people’s talent, while the English “wall” metaphor stands solely as people’s emotion. In object domain, there are 6 sole target domains in Chinese (construction, screen, animal, love affair, strength or support, and family) and 2 in English (failure and death). As for its reasons, similar cognitive pattern, bodily experience, and life function probably bring the similarities, while different historical background, cultural tradition, natural environment, thinking mode, and religious belief lead to the differences. Through discussing the “wall” metaphor in English and Chinese, this paper helps to broaden the scope of metaphor research and improve the understanding of the relationship between language and culture.



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