Primary Metaphors across Languages: Difficulty as Weight and Solidity

Ning Yu, Jie Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This is a linguistic study of two primary metaphors with the same target concept, “DIFFICULTY IS WEIGHT” and “DIFFICULTY IS SOLIDITY,” in English and Chinese. The study employs both lexical and corpus-based approaches in order to gain insights into their manifestation in the two languages. In an attempt to show how the two primary metaphors manifest themselves at the linguistic level, the study lays out the linguistic patterns that reflect the underlying conceptual associations across the metaphorical domains, and analyzes the differences as well as similarities between English and Chinese. It is argued that primary metaphors may manifest themselves at different levels of specificity within and across different languages. The findings support the views that conceptual associations of primary metaphors may or may not lead to productive linguistic patterns in a language, and that speakers’ linguistic experience may play an important role in shaping their metaphorical conceptualizations, in conjunction and interaction with their bodily and cultural experience. The study, therefore, sheds light on the mutuality between language and thought.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-126
Number of pages16
JournalMetaphor and Symbol
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 3 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language


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