Journal directory listing - Volume 56 (2011) - Journal of NTNU: Linguistics & Literature【56(2)】September

What Animals Reveal about Grammar and Culture: A Study of Animal Metaphors in Mandarin Chinese and English Author: Shu-Fen Chen(Department of Chinese Literature, National Tsing Hua University),Li-Chi Lee Chen(Department of English, National University of Tainan)

Vol.&No.:Vol. 56, No. 2
Date:September 2011


This study compares the use of animal metaphors between Mandarin- and English-speaking societies. We adopt the Great Chain Metaphor as the theoretical framework, and employ semantic molecules in the analysis. The findings of this study are as follows: First, animal terms in Mandarin and English can be used as denominal verbs. In English, these verbs can be used transitively (fox the people) and intransitively (chicken out of a fight). By contrast, Mandarin has significantly fewer animal terms that can be used as denominal verbs, most of which are static verbs. Among them, many are collocated with human relations (ji1po2 雞婆 “chicken-grandmother; to be a busybody”) or body parts (zhu1tou2 豬頭 “pig-head; to be stupid”). Animal metaphors reflect cultural history, and different animal metaphors used in various cultures may possess the same connotations. For example, metaphors with niu2 牛 “cattle” in Mandarin correspond to those with “horse” in English (li4da4ru2niu2 力大如牛 “power-big-as-cattle; as strong as an ox” vs. “as strong as a horse”). Additionally, metaphors with hu3 虎 “tiger” in Mandarin are similar to metaphors with “lion” in English, most of which are presented positively (hu3jiang4 虎將 “tiger-general; a general as brave as a tiger” vs. “as regal as a lion”). People from different cultures may regard the same animals differently. Dogs, for example, are viewed differently by the two cultures. English speakers have a high opinion of dogs, while Mandarin speakers despise them (lao3gou3 老狗 “old-dog; a cunning guy” vs. “old dog; an experienced person”). In summary, numerous aspects of animal metaphors are culture-specific and are, therefore, perceived differently by people from diverse cultural backgrounds.

Keywords:animal metaphors, denominal verbs, gender bias, semantic derogation, semantic molecules

《Full Text》 檔名

APA FormatChen, S.-F. (2011). What Animals Reveal about Grammar and Culture: A Study of Animal Metaphors in Mandarin Chinese and English. Journal of National Taiwan Normal University: Linguistics & Literature, 56(2), 121-152. doi:10.3966/207451922011095602005