Scholarly article on topic 'Conceptual Metaphor as a Model Generating Literary Discourse'

Conceptual Metaphor as a Model Generating Literary Discourse Academic research paper on "Languages and literature"

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{"Conceptual metaphor" / "literary discourse" / modeling / "key textual metaphor"}

Abstract of research paper on Languages and literature, author of scientific article — Nadezda I. Marugina

Abstract Literary discourse is motivated by figurative schemes of thought structuring our understanding of experience. This paper puts an insight into the way the conceptual metaphor “A Man is an Animal/Beast” generates literary discourse. Proliferation of the conceptual metaphor “A Man is an Animal/Beast” in Bulgakov's stories reveals lexical repetition of key metaphorical words and semantically complex links of conceptual metaphors and key textual metaphors. The role of translations of Bulgakov's masterpieces is particularly crucial for reconstruction and verification of “A Man is an Animal/Beast” conceptual metaphor realization in the literary discourse.

Academic research paper on topic "Conceptual Metaphor as a Model Generating Literary Discourse"


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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 154 (2014) 112 - 117


CULTURE, 20-22 October 2014

Conceptual Metaphor as a Model Generating Literary Discourse

Nadezda I. Marugina*

National Research Tomsk State University, 36, Lenin Ave., Tomsk, 634050, Russia


Literary discourse is motivated by figurative schemes of thought structuring our understanding of experience. This paper puts an insight into the way the conceptual metaphor "A Man is an Animal/Beast" generates literary discourse. Proliferation of the conceptual metaphor "A Man is an Animal/Beast" in Bulgakov's stories reveals lexical repetition of key metaphorical words and semantically complex links of conceptual metaphors and key textual metaphors. The role of translations of Bulgakov's masterpieces is particularly crucial for reconstruction and verification of "A Man is an Animal/Beast" conceptual metaphor realization in the literary discourse.

© 2014 The Authors.PublishedbyElsevierLtd.This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of National Research Tomsk State University. Keywords: Conceptual metaphor; literary discourse; modeling; key textual metaphor

1. Introduction

There has been considerable interest in the part played by metaphor which is seen as the main mechanism through which we comprehend abstract concepts and perform abstract thinking. Recent research on metaphor done in the frames of cognitive linguistics has emphasized the modeling function of conceptual metaphors, which are capable of generating related metaphorical expressions across whole areas of discourse. Conceptual metaphors as the property of the language can become one of the ways of modeling and interpreting literary discourse. The same metaphors may perform both functions: motivate people's use of and understanding of both ordinary and literary language. Conceptual metaphors are always culturally and socially determined. In literary discourse conceptual metaphors demonstrate their pervasive nature through generating interconnected key textual metaphors and

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +7-909-542-7131. E-mail address:

1877-0428 © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (

Peer-review under responsibility of National Research Tomsk State University. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.10.121

metaphorical expressions that are perceived as artistic and original. Conceptual metaphors, on the one hand, indicate the conventional role they play in the language, on the other hand, they convey the author's message in the literary discourse.

2. Methodology

The basic assumption of much work done within the frames of literary linguistics has been that metaphors are ornamental devices of the texts. However, ongoing studies of figurative language by cognitive linguists Lakoff and Johnson (1980) and Lakoff and Turner (1989) demonstrate that figurative schemes are not only the property of our everyday speech, but structure literary discourse as well. Lakoff and Turner (1989) claim that a conceptual metaphor in literary texts is able to extend its influence by presenting more profound knowledge.

Gibbs (1994) and Sweetser (1990) raise fundamental questions for our understanding of the nature of literary language. The scientists offer an alternative mapping of creative metaphoric processes by illustrating the extent to which poetry can depend on basic underlying metaphors which structure our everyday experiences. Gibbs (1994) aims to show that literary discourse is constituted by fundamental processes of figuration and summarizes the basic cognitive principles of poetics:

• The mind is not inherently literal.

• Language is not independent of the mind but reflects our perceptual and conceptual understanding of experience.

• Figuration is not merely a matter of language but provides much of the foundation for thought, reason and imagination.

• Figurative language is ubiquitous in everyday speech.

• Figurative ways of thinking motivate meanings of many linguistic expressions and their interpretation.

• Metaphorical meanings stem form nonmetaphorical aspects of our everyday experiences (Gibbs, 1994, p. 16-17).

Lukes distinguishes between cognitive, social, and textual metaphors in his discourse analysis. Metaphors can be considered to be organizing models of the conceptual system and an innovative mechanism in conventional literary contexts contributing to the cohesion and coherence of the text. Lukes assumes that metaphors form the so-called "texture, i.e. the sum total of internal ties holding a text together, but while cohesion can be observed on the surface of discourse, coherence is a matter of signaled conceptual ties" (Lukes, 2005).

Alluding to discourse semantics we support the claim that discourse has a hierarchical structure (Russell S. Tomlin, Linda Forrest, Ming Ming Pu, Myung Hee Kim). Figurative language in the literary discourse forms its nucleus, all the other elements become peripheric. The peripheric part together with the center is able to foster the literary text modeling process.

In this paper analysis has been done on the literary texts, written by Michael Bulgakov. Until 1961, Bulgakov's prose was not published at all, his major works lay in manuscript form (Yermolinsky, & Sakharov 1988). He had a stable reputation of a 'forgotten writer'. Cognitive approach to Bulgakov's heritage is vital, because this writer could brilliantly play with metaphor, when creating his masterpieces. Platonov who was one of the contemporaries of Bulgakov once accurately described that "by playing metaphor game, Bulgakov wins only metaphor" (Sacharov, 1991).

The conceptual metaphor, which is plunged into the literary discourse of Bulgakov is "A Man is an Animal/Beast". This metaphor is significant for individual author's mind and determines formation of other cultural conceptual metaphors in the literary contexts. All these metaphors get further semantic realization in the literary discourse by modeling key textual metaphors and artistic metaphorical expressions, through which the behavior of the main characters in the discourse can be perceived.

Besides the conceptual metaphor "A Man is an Animal/Beast" is a regular phenomenon in many cultures. The choice of the source concept in the model is wide due to differences in languages and cultures. The focus here is on the concept dog as it is important for further research. Our study of literary discourse covers a significant amount of phraseological units in which one of the constituent elements of the phrase is the word dog. Some idioms contain a semantically national component, while others, on the contrary, are common to English and Russian. The phrases

that contain common cultural components include such idioms as: live like a dog / to lead a dog's life / dog's life; loyal as a dog / as faithful as a dog; die like a dog / to die like a dog; shoot like a dog / to shoot someone down like a dog; dog in the manger / dog in the monger; dog's age.

Among purely national phraseological units we can single out idioms that incorporate the concept dog in the Russian language, but in English they are based on different concepts typical of the culture of the English-speaking country. For example, the Russian expression an evil dog is translated into English as angry as hell. The phraseological unit beastly cold in Russian is definitely associated with the concept dog.

There are English idioms and proverbs that contain the word dog. One interesting conclusion from the examples provided here is that there is a link between the "men's world" and the "animals' world". The examples here show that a man like an animal can be judged by his behavior, character, social position and status. The cultural tradition uncovers a set of both negative and positive features the concept dog comprises, for example, to work like a dog, to teach an old dog new tricks, every dog has his day, every dog is a lion at home, two dogs over one bone seldom agree, A barking dog never bites, Do not be afraid of the dog that barks, A beaten dog is afraid of the stick's shadow, A good dog deserves a bone, A mischievous dog must be tied short, The dog in the monger will not eat the oats or let anyone else eat them, Where there's a dog, there's fleas, A dog, a woman, and a walnut tree: the more they're beat, the better they be, Satisfy a dog with a bone and a woman with a lie, Wash a dog, comb a dog: still a dog, You can never tell a dog by his bark, You can tell a dog by his collar. In addition, the word collar in English is used in such present-day combinations, as white-collar job, blue-collar job, pink-collar job, indicating types of work. The word combination "white-collar job" means work in the office which is well-paid, the expression "blue-collar job" implies usually average-paid work in manufactures, the word combination "pink-collar job" has a meaning of low-paid jobs in the non-manufacturing sector, traditionally performed by women. Thus, the culturally bound metaphor "A Man is a Dog" is contingent on social, cultural, historical and mythological phenomena in the language, but examination of conceptual metaphors in the literary discourse cannot, however, proceed without some encounter with the literary texts and their creators. The creative artist is one who can transform our ways of understanding the world by displacing ordinary expressions with fresh metaphoric expressions which introduce new perceptions and provide new feelings to readers.

3. Research and Results

The question of conceptual metaphor proliferation in the literary texts has long occupied my attention. My first solution was to observe the behavior of the conceptual metaphorical model "A Man is an Animal/Beast" in the story "Heart of a Dog". The modeling process of the story could be represented by several stages:

• Mental stage is the initial part of the whole text-modeling process where the author establishes a mutually compatible mental space for readers. The conceptual metaphor "A Man is an Animal/Beast" is chosen by the artist to communicate with his readers.

• Communicative stage is the second stage of the whole text-modeling process where the author introduces some specific semantic space to demonstrate depth and power of the conceptual cultural model "A Man is a Dog". This metaphor can have extralinguistic reference and describe real life situations; it can also act as a connector between one part of the discourse and another. The frame (Fillmore, 1992) of the concept dog is vital for the discourse modeling.

• Textual stage is the process of text-modeling itself. Here we can observe further development of the conceptual and cultural metaphors, how they are intertwined, and how the key textual metaphor incorporated in the title of the story is "born" and models the text. The key textual metaphor "the heart of a dog" mediates metaphorical expressions in the text, but it cannot go beyond the scope of the textual frame, it can function only in the environment of one text only. In comparison to the conceptual model "A Man is an Animal/Beast" which can be transformed in a variety of its aspectual variants in the language, the key textual metaphor "the heart of a dog" represents multiple collisions of two concepts. Further development of the key textual metaphor in the text shows clear difference and confrontation of other cultural manifestations as good-bad, good-evil, up-down, God-devil.

• Interpretation stage is a vital stage because we study metaphor using a translation task. Translation of metaphor could be possible for several reasons 1) metaphor is not the property of only one language and culture; 2) concepts easily form metaphors. Strategies of translating metaphors were pointed out by Newmark (1998), but metaphoric expressions, generated by conceptual metaphors pose more difficulties for translators. The translations of Bulgakov's story have been analyzed to verify the functional load of the conceptual and key textual metaphors and to reveal a conceptual shift between the original stories and their translations (Maalej, 2004). The translation strategies the translators follow (Newmark, 1988; Larson, 1984; Crofts, 1988) refer to 1) preservation of the same images, that have been created by the author; 2) using a comparison is logical; 3) deciphering the metaphorical expression, presenting it by a plain expression, not so bright one. We detected convergences and divergences in terms of metaphor translation between the original texts and their translations. Among the most frequent ways of Bulgakov's metaphor translations were metaphors with the image created by the author. The translators could catch the meaningful metaphorical program in the texts and understood its use in the discourse.

The conceptual metaphor "A Man is an Animal/Beast" forms the nucleus of the story "Heart of a Dog" and generates fresh metaphorical expressions embracing all the elements of the frame of the concept dog. Appearance of the dog, parts of its body - breed, muzzle, jaws, fangs, teeth, bared teeth, eyes, ears, nose, a dog with a good nose, paws/claws, tail, belly/paunch, hair/coat, colouring, claws.

The habitat of the dog - a man's house/home, near a man's house/home, on the street, in the kennel. The dog's actions and motions - to sit, to stand, to run, to shiver with cold, to shake the hair, jump/leap, to pick up/to twitch the ear, to wag the tail, to stand up/to walk on hind legs, to catch fleas biting the hair or coat, to catch its tail in search for fleas, spiral movement, to scratch the hair, ears, neck, chest, sides, belly, to lick with the tongue, to bend the head, to bite, to rip/rend, to bark/bay, to yap/yelp, to growl/snarl, to howl, to gnaw/nibble, to yelp, to squeak, to whimper/ whine, to lick , to lap/lap up.

The emotional states of the dog - anger, aggression, rage, joy, melancholy/yearning. The way of life of the dog - mainly hard, starving, bad, loose, free. Groups of dogs, ties of kinship - troop, pack, puppy/puppies.

The conceptual metaphor "A Man is an Animal/Beast" transforming into "A Man is a Dog" and generating the key textual metaphor forms a system of metaphorical expressions that are interconnected and deeply rooted in the texture of the story. All the metaphorical expressions fall under the conceptual metaphor influence. The conceptual metaphor "A Man is an Animal/Beast" is holistic, it integrates other metaphors which preserve the semantic component of "the associative web of animal, savage and infernal world". The interconnection of conceptual metaphors, their collision in the text generate a greater spectrum of other metaphors (e.g. up - is good, down - is bad) which one way or another refer to the conceptual metaphors as the basic linking textual elements. Let us exemplify: Бежит в подворотню в любовниковых чулках. Ноги холодные, в живот дует, потому что шерсть на ней вроде моей, одна кружевная видимость (Bezhit v podvorotny v lybovnikovyh chulkah. Nogi holodnye, v zhivot duet, potomy chto sherst na nei vrode moey, odna kruzhevnaya vidimost) (Bulgakov, 1988, P. 107). Cold legs, and the wind blows up her belly because even though she has some hair on it like mine she wears such cold, thin, lacy little pants-just to please her lover ( Glenny, 1989, P. 7). Her legs are cold, there's draughts all around her stomach because she 's got no more hair on it than I have and those panties of hers have no warmth in them, pure illusion, lace-trimmed (Pyman, 1990, P. 197). It has been observed that there are complementary distinctions between metaphorical and nonmetaphorical usage of the key words in the story. Both the highlighted words in the above mentioned examples imply myth-related contexts where the dog got its hair from the devil when it betrayed God. The conceptual metaphor "A Man is an Animal/Beast" opens other dimensions showing the atmosphere of slums, life of poor people that can be compared to the life of a homeless animal, for example, Ведь они же, мерзавцы, из вонючей солонины щи варят, а те бедняги, ничего и не знают. Бегут, жрут, лакают (Ved oni zhe, merzavzi, iz vonychey solonini shi varyat, a te bednyagi, nichego ne znayut. Begut, zhrut, lakayut) (Bulgakov, 1988, P. 106). They make soup out of salt beef that's gone rotten, the cheats. The poor fools who eat can't tell the difference. It's just grab, gobble and gulp (Glenny, 1989, P. 7). They put putrid salt meat in the cabbage soup, you know, and those poor wretched customers of theirs know nothing about it. They come running, gobble it, lap it up (Pyman, 1990, p. 196).

The conceptual metaphor "A Man is an Animal/Beast" fulfills an intertextual function in Bulgakov's works. A great many metaphors created by Michael Bulgakov bear a mythological component of some specific concepts (Wierzbicka, 1992) dog, cow, cat, frog, snake impregnated in Russian and European cultures. We analyze here the structure of concepts describing it as a frame (Fillmore, 1992). By using these concepts the author creates the atmosphere of living in the world of "animals" and "men". Focusing on the metaphor's unfolding and folding features in other texts ( "The Diaboliad", "The Fateful Eggs", "The White Guard") we came to the conclusion that "A Man is an Animal/Beast" metaphor maintains the parameters of a text-modeling structure in Bulgakov's texts. As it occupies the author's mind it can form new metaphorical keywords which become dominant elements in the discourse and influence the processes of interpretation. The list of such metaphors conflates:

• Lexical repetition of key words (nouns) used both in their primary meaning and figuratively. This idea reflects duality of the depicting world. В первый момент, поглядевшись в зеркало, он очень расстроился, поджал хвост и ушел в ванную комнату, размышляя — как бы ободрать его о сундук или ящик (V pervy moment, poglyadevshis v zerkalo, on ochen rasstroilsa, podzal hvost i ushel v vannuy komnatu, razmyshlya — kak bi obodrat ego o sunduk ili yachik) (Булгаков, 1988, p. 133). To begin with he was very upset when he saw himself in the mirror, tucked his tail between his legs and went slinking off to the bathroom, meditating on how to rub it off on some chest or crate (Pyman, 1990, p. 230). Потом пилой невиданного фасона, всунув ее хвост в первую дырочку, начал пилить (Potom piloy nevidannogo fasona, vsunuv ee hvost v pervuy dirochku, nachal pilit) (Булгаков, 1988, p. 140). Then with of a curiously-shaped saw, the tail of which he inserted into the hole, he began to saw... (Pyman, 1990, p. 240).

• Lexical repetition of key attributive metaphorical expressions. Никогда не возникал перед глазами людей скорченный убедительный крючок из пальца, и никто больше не слышал скрипучего квакающего голоса. Nikogda ne voznikal pered glazami ludey skorchenny ubeditelny kruchok iz plaza, i nikto bolshe ne slishal skripuchego kvakauchego golosa (Булгаков, 1988, p. 104). No more didpeople ... hear the rasping croaking voice (Pyman, 1990, p. 192). Вся оранжерея жила как червивая каша. Vsya oranzereya zila kak chervivaya kasha (Bulgakov, 1988, p. 91). The conservatory was a terrible writhing mass (Pyman, 1990, 177). Очень часто, тревожно завывая, обгоняя тяжелые автобусы, мимо милиционеров проносились шипящие машины с надписью «Мосздравотдел. Скорая помощь». Ochen chaste, trvozno zavivaya, obgonyaya tyazelie avtobusi, mimo militzionerov pronosilis shipyachie mashini s nadpisju "Moszdravotdel. Skoraya pomoch." (Булгаков, 1988, p. 67). Hissing ambulances with "Moscow Health Dept." on them raced past policemen and overtook heavy buses, their sirens wailing (Pyman, 1990, p. 147).

• Lexical repetition of verbs denoting the behavior of animals. Затем красные волны ходили по экрану, неживой дым распухал и мотался клочьями, полз струей, выскакивала огненная надпись: «Сожжение куриных трупов на Ходынке». Zatem krasnie volni hodili po ekranu, nezhivoi dim raspuhal i motalsa klochyami, polz struey, viskakivala ognennaya nadpis: "Sozzenie kurinih trupov na Hodinke " (Bulgakov, 1988, p. 66). Red waves washed over the screen, deathly smoke belched forth, swirling in clouds, and drifted up in a column, then out hopped the fiery letters: "Dead chickens being burnt in Khodynka " (Pyman, 1990, p. 147).

• Lexical repetition of verbs imitating sounds of the animal world to demonstrate the sounds produced by artifacts and people. Что-то квакало и постукивало в трубке, и даже издали было понятно, что голос в трубке, снисходительный, говорит с малым ребенком. Chto-to kvakalo i postukivalo v trubke, i daze izdali bilo ponyatno, chto golos v trubke, snishoditely, govorit s malym rebenkom (Булгаков, 1988, p. 73) . Something croaked and rattled in the receiver, and when at a distance it was clear that the indulgent voice on the phone was talking to a small child (Pyman, 1990, p. 155). Persikov went into the corner, lifted the receiver and barked (Pyman, 1990, p. 164). — Вы мне мешаете, — шипел он и закрывался кулаками от фиолетового света. — Vi mne meshaete, — shipel on i zakrivalsya kulakami ot fioletovogo sveta (Bulgakov, 1988, p. 54). "Let go" he hissed, shielding his face with his hands to ward off the violet light (Pyman, 1990, p. 132). - Черт бы его взял, — прорычал Персиков, бросил на зеленое сукно лупу и какие-то диаграммы. — Chert bi ego vzyal, — prorichal Persikov, brosil na zelenoe sukno lupu i kakie-to diagrammi (Bulgakov, 1988, p. 58). "The devil take him," Persikov growled, putting his magnifying glass and some diagrams down on the baize cloth. (Pyman, 1990, p. 137). Толпа завывала и в небо улетал, немного успокаивая мятущиеся сердца, гул «ура», «ура». Tolpa

zavivala i v nebo uletal, nemnogo uspokaivaya myatuchiesya serdza gul "ura ", "ura " (Булгаков, 1988, p. 100). The crowd howled, and their hooraysfloated up into the sky... (Pyman, 1990, p. 187).

4. Conclusion

This study aimed at showing generating power of the conceptual metaphor "A Man is an Animal/Beast" in the literary discourse. The corpus of examples for the analysis excerpted from Bulgakov's literary works illustrates the modeling potential of the conceptual metaphor. It may be concluded that some of the established mappings of the "Animal/Beast" metaphor may be evaluated relative to the behavior and social position of people as well as the mirror image of the dualistic world shared by animals and men. The results confirm that the conceptual metaphor "A Man is an Animal/Beast" is capable of fulfilling several functions in the literary discourse. Firstly, the conceptual metaphor "A Man is an Animal/Beast" represents an integrated phenomenon of the literary discourse. Secondly, this metaphor has the qualities of "folding and unfolding" mechanism because it can easily refer the reader and the interpreter to other key textual metaphors and metaphorical expressions it forms and highlights. At the same time the results obtained show the nature of any conceptual metaphor realization in the literary discourse. Created by the culture and embedded in the stories by the author it is used to perform, and present new dimensions of the picture of the world.


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