Conceptual Metaphor in Daily Chinese

I didn’t realize the prevalence of metaphor usage in daily life until once I read some excerpts from professor Lakeoff, who devoted himself to linguistic research, especially in conceptual metaphor. I felt so interested in this amazing field and I suddenly realized that conceptual metaphor does not only apply to English world, but it also appears frequently in Chinese, which is my mother language. I think up some interesting examples and I would like to share with you.

  1. Home is the bay of soul.

This is a well-known conceptual metaphor in my mother language. In Chinese, home represents a safe place that you can rely on or cure yourself whenever you confront obstacles and difficulties in your life. Children whose ages over 18 are supposed to go out of their homes and fight for their future. Away from home, a group of children who have just grown up to adults are exposed to an unfamiliar and sophisticated new world where loneliness and sadness is unavoidable. However, in order to survive and become successful, they often hide their actual fragility and pretend to be happy and firm in front of strangers. Only when people approach bay one day, which means they come back home some day, they can confess themselves and truly relax themselves. This metaphor comes from a Chinese societal situation that children have to become adults and leave home after certain ages. Confronting life’s ups and downs, stress and fears, home is the warmest bailment in hearts.

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  1. Books are the wings for flying.

In this metaphor, books have a correlation with wings and doing things or generally achieving success has a correlation with flying. Like wings are necessary for flying, books are inalienable for achieving success. This metaphor reveals the importance of books based on a societal common view that reading books can broad people’s horizon and provides helpful information about how to live lives. The more books you read, the greater chance you will achieve success. (Even though there is no 100 percent of direct relationship between these two things.)

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  1. Eyes are the windows to the soul.

According to Menci, who is on behalf of the Confucianism, there is nothing better than eyes to observe a person. This metaphor comes from a broadly agreed idea that eyes can convey rich emotions of people. If a person is kind-hearted, he or she will have sparkling eyes. On the contrary, if a person is dirty, his or her eyes will be dark and elusive. Eyes are important when you try to communicate with someone else because you cannot disguise your emotion when someone is looking at you. This metaphor especially embodies in social interaction and own unique values in socializing.

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About Xiaoyan Liu

My name is Xiaoyan Liu, which means smiley face in English. I come from China and Chinese is my mother language. This my first time to study abroad and I am so excited to embrace beautiful Bucknell. My intended major is accounting and financial management.
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