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Metaphors Used In The Conceptualisation Of Happiness

2050 words - 9 pages

University of Nis
Faculty of Philosophy
English Department

Term Paper for the Semantics Course (Autumn 2008 – Spring 2009)

Metaphors Used in the Conceptualization of HAPPINESS

Lecturer: Student:
Prof. Djordje Vidanovic, Ph.D. Ana Panajotovic

May, 2009
Current approaches in cognitive linguistics emphasize the importance of metaphor in language, and they consider it an essential and indispensable phenomenon in both language and thought (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980). In fact, the importance of metaphor and its study in language is ...view middle of the document...

It is these mappings that provide much of the meaning of the metaphorical linguistic expressions (or linguistic metaphors) that make a particular conceptual metaphor manifest.

Emotion concepts such as anger, fear, love, happiness, sadness, and so on are primarily understood by means of conceptual metaphors. So, in order to “explain” a certain emotion concept, its “role” in the metaphor must be that of a target domain and the number of “explanations” is the number of different concepts we use for the source domain. Since concepts have several aspects to them, speakers need several source domains to understand these different aspects of target concepts.

Metaphors used in the conceptualization of HAPPINESS

-Being happy is Being Off the Ground-
The first major group of conceptual metaphors gives ‘happiness’ an upward oreintational denotation where happiness is associated with some kind of elevated place “off” the ground. This metaphor involves many other sub-metaphors which share the same metonymic mapping “Being happy is being off the ground”,” Being happy is being in heaven”.

Linguistic expressions: He is on top of the world./ She was on cloud nine. /He’s sitting on high cotton./ When Carol won the lottery she went right into orbit. /When Eric won the lottery he was high as a kite.

Asp.of SD[1]-the goodness of being up, Asp. of TD[2]-the goodness of happiness

-Being happy is Being in Heaven-

Linguistic expressions: That was heaven on earth. /It was paradise on earth. /I was in seventh heaven.

Asp.of SD-the goodness of being up, Asp. of TD-the goodness of happiness

-Happy is Up-
Besides depicting a positive evaluation of happiness, another motivations for conceptualizing happiness with upward orientation may be its association with some behavioral responses that involve an upward movement. For example, “jumping” (up and down) is an activity that implies an upward orientation.

Linguistic expressions: He was elated with joy./ We had to cheer him up./ They were in high spirits. /He jumped for joy.

Asp.of SD-the goodness of being up, Asp. of TD-the goodness of happiness

-Happiness is Light-
Light, as opposed to dark, is valued positively. Therefore, the light metaphor also highlights the positive evaluation of happiness. Also, a happy person’s external brightness can be considered a reflection of his internal body’s heat resulted from his lively activity.

Linguistic expressions: He radiates joy./ There was a glow of happiness in her face. /Mary gets stars in her eyes when she thinks of her boyfriend. /She was shining with joy. /He reflects joy. /Young people are often starry-eyed.

Asp.of SD-the goodness of being “light”, Asp. of TD-the goodness of happiness
Asp.of SD-the energy of light Asp. of TD-the energy that accompanies


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