A decompositional approach to metaphorical compound analysis: The case of a TV commercial

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This article applies a decompositional approach to analyzing the metaphorical structure of a China Central Television (CCTV) Olympics commercial as a multimodal discourse from the perspective of cognitive semantics. The Beijing 2008 Olympics' motto was "One World, One Dream," which highlights the notion of the world as a "global village." The commercial converges on this motto with a metaphorical imagery of a bird's nest being built by birds from all over the world. While "bird's nest" is commonly mapped metaphorically onto some target concepts, such as "unity" and "harmony," the metaphorical imagery is also motivated by the fact that the Beijing National Stadium looks like a bird's nest, and is therefore nicknamed "the Bird's Nest." It is argued that the commercial is structured by one central metaphor, a metaphorical compound, manifested multimodally through the multimodal discourse: "PEOPLES OF THE WORLD MAKING CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE BEIJING OLYMPICS ARE BIRDS FLYING FROM VARIOUS COUNTRIES TO BEIJING WITH TWIGS TO BUILD A BIRD'S NEST." The study applies a decompositional approach to metaphorical compound analysis (DAMCA) based on the distinction between primary and complex metaphors. The analysis shows that the highly specific and complex metaphorical compound is actually built upon a general cognitive foundation comprising the Great Chain and Event Structure Metaphor systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-259
Number of pages17
JournalMetaphor and Symbol
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language


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