The Metaphorical Interpretation of English and Chinese Body-part Idioms Based on Relevance Theory


  • Fangfang Di Shanxi Normal University



Relevance Theory, conceptual metaphor, body-part idioms


As a special language coding way and language phenomenon, metaphor is an important form when humans use language in communication. However, metaphorical mappings are not arbitrary. They are based on our physical experience of the world around us. Idioms are the crystallization of human language and culture and play an important role in human communication. The idiomatic meaning is not simply the sum of the lexical meanings, but often the metaphorical meaning extended from the literal meaning. The paper is based on the relevance theory proposed by Sperber and Wilson (1995), adopts the methods of comparative analysis and text analysis, and takes the idioms of “body metaphor” contained in English and Chinese as the main research object to explore the following questions: 1. What is the interpretation model of the “body-part metaphors” in idioms? 2. In English and Chinese idioms, what are the similarities and differences in the use and interpretation of body-part metaphors? Firstly, the idioms of body-part metaphor are classified based on their projection types, then analyzing the projection methods of each type. Finally, through the new reasoning model guided by relevance theory to analyze the reasoning process of body-part metaphor in English and Chinese idioms, exploring the importance of cognitive context in the interpretation of body-part idioms.


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