Spatial Subsystem of Moral Metaphors: A Cognitive Semantic Study

Ning Yu, Tianfang Wang, Yingliang He

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Cognitive semantic studies have shown that our conceptualization of morality is at least partially metaphorical and that our moral cognition is grounded in some fundamental contrastive categories of our embodied experience in the physical environment. It is argued that our moral cognition is built on a moral metaphor system. Within the framework of conceptual metaphor theory, this study aims to examine the spatial subsystem of moral metaphors in English. We set out with five pairs of moral metaphors that involve the following spatial source concepts: HIGH and LOW, UPRIGHT and TILTED, LEVEL and UNLEVEL, STRAIGHT and CROOKED, and BIG and SMALL. These metaphors were found to constitute the spatial subsystem of moral metaphors in Chinese. Our primary goal is to find out if the five pairs of moral–spatial metaphors are manifested in English as well. To that end we collected linguistic data from the Corpus of Contemporary American English and searched Google Images for multimodal evidence. Our finding is that the five pairs of moral–spatial metaphors are applicable in English as they are in Chinese. We also discuss issues related to conceptual metaphor theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-211
Number of pages17
JournalMetaphor and Symbol
Volume31
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language

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