Scholarly article on topic 'The EMOTION-IS-LIQUID Metaphor in English and Vietnamese: A Contrastive Analysis'

The EMOTION-IS-LIQUID Metaphor in English and Vietnamese: A Contrastive Analysis Academic research paper on "Languages and literature"

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Abstract of research paper on Languages and literature, author of scientific article — NhuQuynh Luu Nguyen (Wynn Nguyen)

Abstract Based on Lakoff's conceptual metaphor theory and Kovecses’ basic emotion terms, this pilot research found that English and Vietnamese share the conceptual metaphor EMOTION IS LIQUID. For each basic emotion term, the proportion of the EMOTION IS LIQUID expressions to the total of emotion tokens was relatively small. The translation of one language to the other fell into the same conceptual metaphor. Examples were collected from the Corpus of Contemporary American English, the World Wide Web, and the VietnameseWaC corpus. An implication for English teaching is to categorize expressions into different conceptual metaphors to enhance learners’ word choice.

Academic research paper on topic "The EMOTION-IS-LIQUID Metaphor in English and Vietnamese: A Contrastive Analysis"

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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 95 (2013) 363 - 371

5th International Conference on Corpus Linguistics (CILC2013)

The EMOTION-IS-LIQUID Metaphor in English and Vietnamese:

A Contrastive Analysis

NhuQuynh Luu Nguyen (Wynn Nguyen)*

University of Central Oklahoma. 100 University Drive, Edmond, Oklahoma,73Q34. USA.


Based on Lakoff s conceptual metaphor theory and Kovecses' basic emotion terms, this pilot research found that English and Vietnamese share the conceptual metaphor EMOTION IS LIQUID. For each basic emotion term, the proportion of the EMOTION IS LIQUID expressions to the total of emotion tokens was relatively small. The translation of one language to the other fell into the same conceptual metaphor. Examples were collected from the Corpus of Contemporary American English, the World Wide Web, and the Vietnamese WaC corpus. An implication for English teaching is to categorize expressions into different conceptual metaphors to enhance learners' word choice.

© 2013The Authors.PublishedbyElsevierLtd. Selectionand peer-reviewunder responsibilityofCILC2013.

Keywords: conceptual metaphor; emotion metaphor; contrastive analysis; English and Vietnamese; corpus linguistics; cognitive linguistics; Lakoff; foreign language teaching; teaching vocabulary

1. Introduction

Traditional scholars such as Aristotle and Michel Foucault considered metaphor as a rhetorical device to transcend the ordinary literal world. A more modern perspective undertaken by Lakoff and Johnson (1980), however, suggests that metaphor is a way people think every day, and it is popularized through increasing research in conceptual metaphor—the comprehension of a conceptual domain in terms of another, for example, of "time" in terms of "money" as in "I've invested a lot of time in her" and "You need to budget your time" (p.8).

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +1-405-371-3255 E-mail address:

1877-0428 © 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. Selection and peer-review under responsibility of CILC2013. doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.10.658

A conceptual metaphor is often structurally coherent: it comprises of subcategories of metaphors; each of these subcategories delineates an aspect or a characteristic of the main concept (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980). For instance, the conceptual metaphor TIME PASSES US includes two sub-cases, one in which the main concept, time, "is a moving object and moves toward us" (The time for action has arrived) and, in the other case, "time is stationary and we move through it in the direction of the future" (We are approaching the end of the year) (p.44). Lakoff and Johnson construct sub-cases with metaphorical entailments, as the following for AN ARGUMENT IS A JOURNEY:

AN ARGUMENT IS A JOURNEY (We have set out to prove bats are birds)

A JOURNEY DEFINES A PATH (He strayed from the path)

Therefore, AN ARGUMENT DEFINES A PATH (He strayed from the line of argument).



-> Therefore, THE PATH OF AN ARGUMENT IS A SURFACE (We're well on our way to solving this


Lakoff and Johnson (1980) refer to such a set of entailments the evidence of the coherence of a single metaphor. In their subsequent discussion (1993), they expand on it as a way to lay out the source-to-target mappings to create what Kovecses (2005) calls a complex metaphor. In AN ARGUMENT IS A JOURNEY, the mappings from the source domain (journey) to the target domain (argument) have two correspondences: A JOURNEY DEFINES A PATH is similar to AN ARGUMENT DEFINES A PATH, and THE PATH OF A JOURNEY IS A SURFACE corresponds THE PATH OF AN ARGUMENT IS A SURFACE. Their idea is the principle for my preparation of the mappings for the EMOTION IS LIQUID metaphor.

Despite the overwhelming evidence of conceptual metaphors in language, McGlone (1996) casts down on Lakoff and Johnson's claim that people perceive metaphors via source-to-target mappings. In his study of thirty-two Princeton undergraduates, he found significant a result that people interpret a conceptual metaphor in a non-metaphorical way. For instance, most participants, when asked to paraphrase the sentence "Dr. Moreland's lecture was a three-cowse meal for the mind," replied with "Dr. M's lecture touched on a variety of topics, but was well-integrated, thorough and intellectually stimulating" instead of "The lecture satisfied the mind's intellectual hunger thoroughly"—a reference to IDEAS ARE FOOD metaphor. McGlone insists the finding supports the attributive categorization theory, according to which the reader places the source (a three-course meal) and the target (lecture) domains into the same but unconventional (figurative) category (well-prepared) because literally, the two domains have nothing in common. When asked to generate other metaphors similar in meaning to the original one, the participants more likely provided expressions from the same attributive category of a three-course meal (e.g., "Dr Moreland's lecture was a goldmine for the mind*) than those related to the FOOD metaphor (e.g., "Dr Moreland's lecture was bread for my starving mind'). McGlone conducted two follow-up experiments to rule out alternative explanations for this result, such as the tasks itself being likely to encourage participants to provide a literal interpretation of the three-course meal. He concluded that people more often perceive higher similarity of or recall metaphors in the same attributive category of a three-course meal rather than those from the FOOD mappings model.

From my perspective, McGlone's argument has three major weaknesses. Firstly, he assumes attributive categorization and conceptual metaphors are mutually exclusive; that is, people comprehend metaphors via the first strategy or the second one but not both. I suspect the language people produce, such as in McGlone's experiments, is a product of a selection process in which they use both attributive categorization and conceptual metaphors to make sense of metaphorical expressions. If, for example, in subsequent research participants are required to provide metaphorical expressions in substitution for literal ones, they could employ different conceptual metaphors that share the same literal meaning (attributive category). Such a result only demonstrates the diversity of language choice but does not refute the possibility of source-to-target mappings process. In fact, in Feldman's neural theory of language to account for the comprehension of metaphors (2006), he consults evidence from brain-imaging experiments and asserts that metaphorical expressions, especially abstract concepts, are understood through mental simulation of events based on source (concrete)-to-target (abstract) mappings. Further research in cognitive psychology is necessary to elaborate on the issue.

Secondly, McGlone's choice of the vehicle (a three-course meal) to describe the topic (Dr Moreland's lecture) might elicit responses dependent on attributive categorization because, if readers are uninformed about how Dr

Moreland's lecture was, they can interpret a three-course meal in various ways, hence generating various attributive categories for both the vehicle and the topic. In contrast, metaphorical expressions such as half-baked ideas and warmed-over proposals suggest limited interpretation (i.e., not well thought out; derivative) because they are the common, specific language about a state or an aspect of food. Thus, I speculate that readers might resort to mappings as their primary strategy of comprehension. Subsequent research to demonstrate this point should be carried out.

Thirdly, McGlone's study includes only participants who are native speakers of English, and the metaphors used are less authentic because they are generated by the researcher and participants and serve the purpose of the research. Native speakers of other languages and large linguistic data should be taken into consideration for a more meaningful, reliable result.

I have established so far the role of source-to-target mappings, if not as a main strategy for comprehension of metaphors, at least a method to detect how metaphors are used coherently. My research's aim is to examine whether people from different cultures could use metaphor coherently in the same manner to create the same conceptual (complex) metaphor, as well as contribute to Kovecses's study of the universality and variation of conceptual metaphor across cultures (2005). Inspired by Kovecses's Metaphor and Emotion (2000), this pilot research investigated the emotion domain in Vietnamese and English as one example of contrastive analysis of conceptual metaphors across cultures.

Conceptual metaphor, or an du tri nhan in Vietnamese, is still a promising field to cultivate. Nguyen (2009) discusses conceptual metaphors existing in lyrics written by renowned song-writer Trinh Cong Son. Phan and Nguyen (2010) study the conceptual metaphor of life, death and time in Vietnamese. Not many researchers survey conceptual metaphor within the Vietnamese language, or compare Vietnamese with another foreign language. An understanding of conceptual metaphor, however, may have several important implications to linguistics of the Vietnamese language, cognitive linguistics in general, and applied linguistics such as foreign language teaching. A foreign language teacher, for example, can utilize shared metaphorical concepts to teach English or Vietnamese. Because studying conceptual metaphors across languages is important, this qualitative and quantitative research attempts to investigate the emotional domain as an example. Emotion is a wild domain in both English and Vietnamese, which offers rich resources in both languages to compare.

The research question is whether English and Vietnamese share the conceptual metaphor EMOTION IS LIQUID. The study hypothesizes English and Vietnamese have the same conceptual metaphor EMOTION IS LIQUID. Emotion terms under investigation is limited to the four basic ones—anger, sadness, joy (happiness), and love— proposed by Kovecses in his Metaphor and Emotion (2000), in which he lists many conceptual metaphors of anger and love and hypothesizes the existence of a master metaphor of emotion. This research differs from many other studies, such as Li (2010), in its approach: more focus is on constructing the mapping model of emotions for the two languages. Li's study, on the other hand, diverts focus from the mapping to a variety of conceptual metaphors of an emotion.

2. Procedure

2.1. Method

The research applied Conceptual Metaphor Theory suggested by Lakoff and Johnson (1980) and the source-to-target mappings by Kovecses (2005) to establish the mapping model of the conceptual metaphor EMOTION IS LIQUID. In the mapping, relations between the source domain LIQUID and the target domain EMOTION was constructed by the following set of correspondences:


The Consumer/Container Of The Liquid The Act To Take The Liquid Into The Body Feeling The Need Of The Liquid Physical State Of Liquid The Change of Physical State Of Liquid


The Consumer/Container Of The Emotion The Act To Take The Emotion Into The Body Feeling The Need Of The Emotion Physical State Of Emotion The Change of Physical State Of Emotion

The Act To Put Someone In The Condition Of Being In Liquid, or To Fill Something With Liquid The Act To

Put Someone In The Condition Of Being In Emotion, or To Fill Something With Emotion

The Amount Of Liquid The Amount Of Emotion

The Motion Of Liquid The Motion Of Emotion

The Condition Of Being In Liquid The Condition Of Being In Emotion

2.2. Instrumentation

Data in English and Vietnamese were collected from Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA), the Google search engine, and Sketch Engines (Kilgarriff et al., 2004). A corpus is a collection of spoken or written texts of different types (Deignan, 2005). The Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) contains more than 385 million American English words from 1990-2008+, balanced between spoken, fiction, popular magazines, newspapers, and academic journals (Davies, 2009). The Google search engine provides a way to retrieve information on the World Wide Web (WWW), which Volk believes to be "the largest corpus ever with more than one billion documents' (p.1, 2002). Sketch Engine is a corpus query system designed by Adam Kilgarriff that allows access to the VietnameseWaC corpus of 106,464,835 words.

To find English expressions in COCA that fit into the mapping model, I put emotion words in the search word(s) box, filled in the collocate box with an asterisk, and adjusted the number of hits to display in the result set to 200. In the result set of collocates, words that can be used in liquid expressions (e.g., drink), together with their examples, were selected and categorized according to the mapping model.

To find Vietnamese expressions in Sketch Engines, I used equivalent terms in Vietnamese of those words and my cultural knowledge to determine possible liquid terms that can collocate with each emotion word. Those liquid terms were entered in the lemma box and emotion term into the simple query box to check for concordances. The concordances were selected as examples in Vietnamese for the mapping model.

Finally, the Google search engine was used to check for further instances of the conceptual metaphor in both languages.

2.3. Validity

The use of COCA and VietnameseWaC corpora was also to make sure data came from different sources and a large database. Using the corpora reduced the possibility of irrelevant and repetitive results. I also utilized the World Wide Web because it is the largest and up-to-date reservoir of language in order to complement the other two corpora. According to Fletcher (p. 275, 2004), " documents appear on the Web daily, so up-to-date content and usage tend to be well represented online. In addition, even a very large corpus might include few examples of infrequent expression or constructions that can be found in abundance on the web." Data obtained from web search, however, contained unfiltered results and, thus, they are less reliable than those from the other corpora. Web search only conveys a general idea about the use of terms under investigation.

3. Result and discussion

The data confirmed the hypothesis that English and Vietnamese share the EMOTION IS LIQUID metaphor. For each mapping below, frequency of the liquid words, examples in both languages, and explanation of their use in discourse are provided whenever possible

3.1. Mapping 1: The Physical State Of Liquid Is The Physical State Of Emotion, And The Change of Physical State Of Liquid Is The Change of Physical State Of Emotion.

For this mapping, liquid words collocate with anger emotion in both languages. For example, in COCA simmering occurs 33 times (2.85% of the total occurrences of simmering), followed by boiled (29 times, 1.19% of the total occurrences of boiled) and boiling (21 times, 0.45% of the total boiling). Steaming was not found in COCA but in Oxford Online Dictionary through Google search as a British (not American) informal way of saying angry.

(1) "My neighbors are steaming about the noisy late-night flights." Vietnamese people rarely use "steaming" when they mean angry, but when they do, steaming usually collocates with my head, his head, her head, or their head: "dau tor dang boc khoi day!" ("my head is steaming right now!")

(2) "Now, more than six weeks later, Qazwini's anger at the backlash against Arab-Americans is still simmering." The Vietnamese do not use "simmering," which refers to a state of emotion held up and built up inside, to talk or write about "anger".

(3) "Frustration and anger among Catholics boiled over ." The Vietnamese translation of this sentence could be "Su gifin du (anger) cua nhrag tin do dao Chua trao soi (boiled over)." To sound more natural, the Vietnamese would say, "The Catholics were boiling", which means "Nhung tin do dao Chua tu-c gian soi suc".

(4) Anger was boiling up inside me.

"Su gian d& dang soi sue trong toi." To sound more natural, the Vietnamese would say, "I was boiling", which means "Toi gign soi ngu&i."

(5) "...because he is outwardly well presented and benign yet at the same time frequently boiling with rage" Rage is a related term to anger. ".. .boiling with rag^ in this sentence does not connote the same meaning as "ti're gian soi sue"; instead, it should be "noi cau", which has the same meaning as "getting angry/'

In the VietnameseWaC corpus, the number of hits of the anger conceptual metaphor is as followed: gian soi (29 hits), gian trao (6 hits), toi gian as in hcri gian boc len (1 hit). The Vietnamese equivalents to boil also only co-occur with "anger" and can be found in both writing and speaking.

3.2. Mapping 2: The Consumer/Container Of The Liquid Is The Consumer/Container Of The Emotion, And The Act To Take The Liquid Into The Body Is The Act To Take The Emotion Into The Body.

Only anger and sadness qualify this mapping. COCA showed 25 hits of consumed collocate with anger (or 0.48% of the total occurrence of consumed) and 4 hits with sadness (0.08% of the total occurrence of consumed). Contain anger is more frequent than consume, which has 42 hits in COCA (0.31% of the total occurrence of consume). Swallow, a possible liquid word, has no hit in COCA but exists with about 10,000 results in Google search.

(7) "My father, unable to reprimand us in front of his guest, consumed his anger in a silence nobody dared break/' The equivalent term of consumed anger in Vietnamese is nuot gian. VietnameseWaC shows one instance of "consumed anger": "Nghe nhu the, toi ben nen gian, dan xuong, va nu6t vao ben trong." The more native-like translation is nen gian (suppress anger), with 45 hits (0.3 per million words).

(8) "She is every mother who ever watched a grown-up child stumble through life, swallowed her sadness and disapproval and did what she could to help." Swallowed sadness can be rendered as nuot buon, but this Vietnamese translation would be frown upon.

3.3. Mapping 3: The Condition Of Being In Liquid Is The Condition Of Being In Emotion.

For this mapping, only Google search yielded hits. More Vietnamese expressions fit into this mapping than English ones.

(9) "And I'm soaked in your love." This sentence cm be rendered as "Va em chim dam (soaked) trong tinh yeu (love) cua anh" . In Vietnamese, chim dam co-occurs 1,650,000 times with tinh yeu (love), 940,000 times with noi buon (sadness) and 19,000 times with u sau (sadness); for example, "chim dam trong mi buon," "chim dam trong tinh yeu," " chim dam trong u sau." These phrases occur in newspapers, blogs, songs, and literature.

(10) "...As I said in my previous post, that almost everyone in love simply loves rain. So what are you waiting for go get drenched in love and rain..." "Get drenched" is rarely used to talk about "love" in both English and Vietnamese language.

(11) "Our hopes dissolve in sadness." Google showed 691 hits of dissolve in sadness, many are from literature. Some instances, such as the following sentence, are found in interviews: "When a wife gets cheated on, survival mode kicks in. She may have decided that it's better to be brave than dissolve in sadness and fear." The Vietnamese

translation of "Our hopes dissolve in sadness" is "Niem hi vong cua chung toi tan trong m>i buon" and is uncommon in Vietnamese.

3.4. Mapping 4: Feeling The Need Of The Liquid Is Feeling The Need Of The Emotion

Examples for this mapping in both languages are rare.

(12) "She is thirsty for love" is equivalent to "Co ay khat tinh yeu." Sketch Engine yielded 3 hits in the VietnameseWaC corpus. Typically, Vietnamese people do not say "khat", but they use "khat khao," which means "desire", not "be thirsty."

3.5. Mapping 5: The Amount Of Liquid Is The Amount Of Emotion

For this mapping, only Google search yielded hits.

(13) "One drop of love will make the world alright" can be translated as "Mpt gigtyeuthwffng lam th§ gioi hanh phuc." One drop of love, although uncommon in English, can be found in lyrics and poems. In Vietnamese, Google showed 21 hits for mot giot yeu thwamg and 286,000 hits for giot sau (a drop of sadness), which are also mostly found in lyrics and poems.

3.6. Mapping 6: The Amount Of Liquid Is The Amount Of Emotion, And The Motion Of Liquid Is The Motion Of Emotion

(14) "As I'm crying with overflowing joy..."

(15) "When I think of home, I thi^ of a place where there's love overflowing' can be rendered as "Khi toi nghi vh nha/gia dinh, toi nghi v! mot nod ma co tinh yeu tran ngqp."

(16) Alas, that endless and unconditional flow of love doesn't always feel possible to fallible parents. Flow of

love means dong chay yeu thuffng. The Vietnamese phrase sounds literary.

(17) "It was like the wave of God's love just flowed over me" can be translated to "Bieu do giong nhu ngon song yeu thuvng cua Chua chay tran qua toi."

(18) "When your whole being was overflowing with hate there was no room for fear" can be rendered as "Khi trong ton ngjip tran h$n thu, ban khong con biet sor nua." Such use of "overflowing" is often seen in Vietnamese newspapers, literary works, and academic writing, but it is not common in conversation.

(19) "Sam felt anger and adrenaline surge through her" is equivalent to "Sam cam thay noi t&c gian dang tran trong co ay." Both sentences sound literary.

(20) Medvedev's remarks had the effect of highlighting the prime minister's traditional responsibility for the economy even as the Kremlin braces for a surge in public anger caused by the nation's worst recession in a decade and the end of the long oil boom that has sustained Putin's rule. A surge in public anger means lan song gian die cua cong chung. Lan song is a Vietnamese equivalent term of wave or surge. Such a phrase can be found in newspapers.

(21) "Instead he felt little spurts of joy that spilled from the overload of exhilaration" can be translated as "Thay vao do, anh ta cam nhan nhung ngudn vui (spurts/sources of joy) nho nho So tran (spilled) tir niem phan khich tot do." Typically, Vietnamese people do not use "spurts of joy," to they may use "joy spilled" in literary writing.

(22) He stood there while the anger drained out of him.

"Anh ta diing do trong khi com gian cpn dan/rut di dan." Vietnamese people do not use "drain" this way. They would say, "...the anger cooled down."

For mapping 6, liquid terms were found co-occurring with all four basic emotions, as demonstrate in the examples above. In COCA, surge collocates 17 times with joy (0.27% of the total surge), and 48 times with anger (0.77% of the total surge); overflowing collocates 9 times with joy (0.72% of the total overflowing); outpouring goes with love 39 times (4.8% of the total outpouring); wave and washed collocates 16 times (0.08% of the total wave) and 10 times (0.14% of the total washed) with sadness respectively. Negative emotions seem to occur more often with surge, and wash. In Google, there were only 48,400 instances of surge of happiness and 280,000 of surge of joy, as compared to 840,000 instances of surge of anger.

Google search showed, overflowing collocates with love 39,000 times, mostly in poems, lyrics and religious texts. In Vietnamese, positive emotions such as love and joy more often collocate with ngap tran (overflowing/overflow) and dong chay (the flow of) than negative emotions. There were 367,000 hits for tinh yeu ngap tran (love overflowing), 27,500 hits for dong chay yeu thucmg (the flow of love), 4,560,000 hits for ngap tran hanh phuc (overflowing joy/happiness), and 10,400 hits for ngap tran han thu (overflowing with hate). "Overflow" does not collocate with "anger." The lower number of hits of negative emotions terms might be attributed to the overall lower frequency of those negative emotions. Regarding contexts, dong chay yeu thucmg (the flow of love) often appears in texts about charity, hospital, and religion while tinh yeufym thucmg ngap tran (love overflowing) appears in lyrics and articles about love, valentine, and Womens' day.

Lan song gian du, the Vietnamese translation of surge of anger, appeared 526,000 times in Google search results, mostly from articles about economics, politics, sports, and fan reaction toward a singer.

3.7. Mapping 7: The Act To Put Someone In The Condition Of Being In Liquid, Or To Fill Something With Liquid Is The Act To Put Someone In The Condition Of Being In Emotion, Or To Fill Something With Emotion.

A possible liquid word for this mapping is pour. COCA yielded no hits while Google search showed examples of pour scorn used by the British. Thus, I decided to check the terms in the British National Corpus. Among 316 British tokens containing the word "scorn", 54 tokens contain the phrase "pour scorn."

(23) The Prime Minister took the rare step of issuing a brief statement, obviously aimed to pour scorn on those who say his days as Chancellor are numbered.

Pour can also collocate with love, as in (24) How much love can you pour into your life?

The Vietnamese do not use any Vietnamese expressions equivalent to "pour scorn" or "pour love". Instead they

may use expressions equivalent to "pour anger," such as trut gian. Sketch Engine identified 88 occurrences of trut gian (0.7 per million words) in VietnameseWaC corpus.

According to the COCA corpus, the proportion of the EMOTION IS LIQUID expressions to the total of emotion tokens was relatively small. For example, among 19208 American tokens containing the word "anger", only 183 of them contained "surge of anger/anger surged", or "anger simmering", "anger boiling/boiled", "anger drains/drain", and "consumed anger", which made up of 0.95%. However, as compared to other words, such as expressing and expressed (261 hits in total, or 1.35% of the total anger terms), that collocate with anger, the ratio of ANGER IS LIQUID expressions to expressing/expressed terms is not low. The low percentage of ANGER IS LIQUID expressions might be attributed to the low frequencies of each collocate word. For example, only 1157 tokens or 6% of the total anger terms contain simmering while 2231 tokens or 11.6% of the total anger terms contain suppressed, which is not a term that fits into the EMOTION IS LIQUID conceptual metaphor. However, 2.85% of occurrences of simmering are collocates with anger while 2.42% occurrences of suppressed are collocates with anger. Such comparison between the EMOTION IS LIQUID terms and other terms implies the EMOTION IS LIQUID metaphor may not be an unusual linguistic phenomenon in English.

Further investigation for all emotional terms in COCA and the VietnameseWaC corpus should be conducted to clarify how common the conceptual metaphor the EMOTION IS LIQUID is, as compared to many other expressions containing emotion words. This task is outside the scope of this current study. Within my study, English examples collected for each mapping were compared to Vietnamese equivalents, which also fell into the same conceptual metaphor. Likewise, Vietnamese examples confirmed the existence of the conceptual metaphor, and could be translated into English equivalents sharing the same conceptual metaphor. Thus, suffice it to say that the result confirmed the research hypothesis.

4. Conclusion

In this paper, I set out to explore whether English and Vietnamese share the conceptual metaphor EMOTION IS LIQUID. The data I collected based on my source-to-target mappings confirmed the existence of the metaphor in both languages because they fit the mapping model. In addition, the translation of one language into the other falls

into the same conceptual metaphor. By assembling evidence for the mapping, I also demonstrated the conceptual metaphor in both languages share the same type of coherence, and this coherence is shaped by the mapping model. Its correspondences are individual conceptual metaphors that cohere to form the master, complex conceptual metaphor EMOTION IS LIQUID. The finding has several implications for English teaching and future research.

4.1. Implication for English teaching

One potential implication is for devising a teaching method to help Vietnamese students convey their ideas in English concisely and artistically through their writing, and foreigners to acquire the Vietnamese language. Language teachers should not avoid teaching metaphors in fear of students' misuse or overuse but instead categorize them into conceptual metaphors, so learners learn how to use metaphors not only as a specialized tool for creative writing, but also an effective tool to communicate with English (or Vietnamese) speakers in daily lives. For example, English teachers should categorize metaphorical expressions into different conceptual metaphors, so learners can systematically memorize English metaphors and compare them to their Vietnamese equivalents. Teachers may introduce how to translate those metaphorical English expressions into Vietnamese, and vice versa. Within one conceptual metaphor such as EMOTION IS LIQUID, learners would be able to recognize equivalent metaphorical expressions in the two languages (e.g., "anger is boiling" and "gian soi sue"). They may gradually acquire the intuition to identify when their translation of a metaphorical Vietnamese expression into English sound native-like. They would no longer fear their metaphorical sentences which they write in English do not sound right for native speakers, or do not convey their exact ideas.

A combination of conceptual metaphors and attributive categorization as a teaching strategy may allow learners to relate different conceptual metaphors according to their shared meaning. For example, the teacher could present learners the metaphors HAPPINESS IS LIQUID IN MOTION and HAPPINESS IS FEELING LIGHT. They are in the same attributive category: both refer to a heightened state of happiness. The teacher could then provide a series of expressions that match each conceptual metaphor. Such expressions as I'm crying with overflowing joy and the surge of joy belong to the HAPPINESS IS LIQUID IN MOTION metaphor. For HAPPINESS IS FEELING LIGHT there are common sayings such as We were floating on air at the news, Lighten up, I'm over the moon, I am on cloud nine, and Nothing can bring me down today. This method would expand learners' vocabulary and reinforce their memory of new expressions.

4.2. Limitation of the research and suggestion for subsequent studies

The research proves the existence of the EMOTION IS LIQUID metaphor, but it does not specify how common the conceptual metaphor is used in different registers in both languages. Another weakness is that it does not account for why some LIQUID terms do not collocate with certain emotions. Further research may need to focus on one set of synonyms for an emotion to clarify these unsolved matters, and devise a strategy to filter "noises" from Web search results. One issue with information on the Web is the inflation of results caused by translation. Some metaphorical expressions in English are translated word-by-word into Vietnamese, hence the existence of the same type of metaphor in Vietnamese. To what extend these translations distort the results or can be considered evidence of influence among languages should be investigated further.

Although I suggest utilizing conceptual metaphors in foreign language teaching, subsequent research should be conducted to evaluate how effective this strategy is and examine how language learners comprehend metaphors not only in their native language but also in the target language. Ferreira (2008) addresses this issue in her survey of 221 Brazilian undergraduate students and 16 American undergraduate students at University of California, Santa Cruz. She infers from the finding conceptual metaphors associated with bodily experiences, namely, those that can be perceived by our senses, such as the feeling of anger, may facilitate learners' comprehension. Even without a context, learners can easily understand metaphorical expressions derived from these conceptual metaphors. Examining whether Vietnamese learners of English or English learners of Vietnamese share similar experience would instruct language teaching methodology, for instance, what conceptual metaphors teachers should select for learners, and in what way teachers should present metaphors to optimize learning.


I am grateful to the College of Liberal Arts and the Department of English at the University of Central Oklahoma for sponsoring my trip to the Fifth International Conference of Corpus Linguistics in Alicante, Spain, to present this research. I wish to thank Mr. Adam Kilgarriff for introducing me to Sketch Engines and the VietnameseWaC corpus, which are definitely very useful for my research.


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