Metaphoric Representation of the Concept "Beauty" in English Proverbs

The term "concept" in various fields of linguistics. Metaphor as a language unit. The problem of defining metaphor. The theory of concept. The notion of concept in Linguistics. Metaphoric representation of the concept "beauty" in English proverbs.

Рубрика Иностранные языки и языкознание
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Язык английский
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Ministry of Education of Russian Federation

North Caucasus State Technical University

Department of Linguistics, Intercultural Communication and Tourism

Course paper in English Lexicology

Metaphoric Representation of the Concept “Beauty” in English Proverbs

Stavropol, 2011

Contents

Introduction

Chapter I. Metaphor as a language unit

I.1 The problem of defining metaphor

I.2 Functions of metaphor

Chapter II. The theory of concept

II.1 The notion of concept in Linguistics

Chapter III. Metaphoric representation of the concept “beauty” in English proverbs

Conclusion

References

Introduction

concept linguistic english metaphor

The term “concept” is widely used in various fields of linguistics. To call something a concept means to pose the problem: to reconstruct the meaning of something for a particular spiritual culture. Considering, for example, the question of the concepts of beauty, truth, friendship, etc., one try to reconstruct that essence, which in usage is behind the words beauty, truth, friendship, etc. Exploring concepts that are implemented in the texts in a definite language, we can identify the concepts prevailing in this usage, combine them into a group of “concepts”, which are attributed to the status of the most immediate and adequate implementation of the concepts. The concept “beauty” is among the most important landmarks of human behavior, is the leading scientific concept of aesthetics (as “excellence”). Comparing the characteristics of this concept in various cultures would represent more clearly the system of value priorities of different language communities.

The actuality of our work is in the prospect of studying concepts like entity, revealing the ideology of the people.

The object of the work is proverbs which metaphorically represent the concept “beauty” in the English language.

The subject is the concept “beauty” in English proverbs.

The aim of this work is characterization of the concept “beauty” in English consciousness, and revealing its metaphorical representation in proverbs.

The tasks of our work are the following:

1. Determine the definition of metaphor and its classification.

2. Define the notion of concept in Linguistics.

3. Reveal the metaphoric representation of the concept “beauty” in proverbs.

The purposes and tasks identified the following methods: description, observation, a method of component and functional analysis.

The material is English proverbs.

Chapter I. Metaphor as a Language Unit

I.1 The Problem of Defining Metaphor

Study of the concept of metaphor involved and engaged in many domestic and foreign linguists. But so far in the linguistic sense of metaphor, there is disagreement among scientists. Efforts of modern linguists, in particular Cherkasova E. T., Serebrennikov B. A., Kubryakova E. S. identified linguistic concepts and processes, causing the appearance and functioning of metaphor in the speech. These include: the basic meaning of the word, a common semantic element, the lexical-semantic context of words, which is not logically relevant to actual relationships of objects and phenomena of reality, a certain semantic type of speech, grammatical categories of animated - inanimated nouns.

We referred to some dictionaries and find out the definition of metaphor. So, according to Oxford Dictionary metaphor is [19: 415]:

1. a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance.

2. something used, or regarded as being used, to represent something else; emblem; symbol.

3. a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them.

According to Collins English Dictionary metaphor is [18: 500]:

1. a figure of speech in which a word or phrase that ordinarily designates one thing is used to designate another, thus making an implicit comparison.

2. one thing conceived as representing another; a symbol.

So, these definitions completely open the meaning of metaphor, according to them metaphor is a figure of speech in which one word or idea is used to denote another one which are practically similar.

Thus, we follow A. P Chudinov and define metaphor as a basic mental operation that combines two conceptual scopes and makes it possible to use the potency of structuring the scope of the source using the new field [10: 7].

In a study of metaphors the prime importance is given to the basic lexical meaning of the word. But even here there are some problems, since in this case it is a noun as a metaphor for the position of the predicate, applications, in combination with the genitive of another noun. But characterizing function of metaphor requires its expression in the form of a predicate. N. D Arutyunova wrote: “The thesis that metaphor is correlated with the position of a predicate does not imply that any of their figurative meaning of the predicate is a metaphor. Metaphor in the predicate is facing limitations caused by morphological and lexical-semantic factors”. [3: 5] The question of the syntactic design of metaphors is also considered to be unresolved, and its complexity is aggravated by the possibility of combining in one and the same language several tropes. Thus, the metaphor may be hyperbolic, metonymic, ironical, there are metaphorical comparisons, metaphorical paraphrases.

It should be noted that metaphor exists in language as a real semantic-syntactic unit. So, here we can talk about the signs of metaphors:

1) a sign of distraction;

2) a sign of expressivity;

3) syntactic feature;

4) morphological traits.

Metaphor - is a statement about the properties of an object based on some similarity with the already designated in the reconsidered meaning of the word. Technique of metaphor is the main method of indirect nomination. This pattern is due to the fact that, when the indirect names in the reinterpreted meaning actualized those features that are essential to the meaning and the detonation of a reference name. [9: 64]

I.2 Functions of Metaphors

Metaphor as a language unit, used in speech, carries its own language load. Consequently, it is advisable to identify the main functions of metaphors in order to define its role in language. Kharchenko V. K. identifies the following functions [14: 115 - 125]:

1) Nominative function.

The unique role of metaphor in nomination system is connected with the fact that, thanks to the metaphor the balance is restored between the inexplicable and almost inexplicable, simple name and the explicable, transparent crystal name.

2) Informative function.

The first feature of the information transmitted through the metaphors, is the integrity, panoramic image. Panorama is based on the visual nature of the image, makes for a fresh look at the essence of the Gnostic-specific vocabulary, the specific words that are the basis, the foundation of all metaphors.

3) Mnemonic function.

Metaphor contributes to better information memorizing. Increased memorability of the image is due, apparently, to its emotional-evaluative nature.

It is combined with the explanatory function of scientific and popular literature, with genre-forming function in folk riddles, proverbs, aphorisms on literature, from the heuristic function in the philosophical concepts, scientific theories, hypotheses.

4) Text - forming function.

Text - forming properties of metaphor are called its ability to be motivated, developed, that is explained and continued.

Text - forming effect - is a consequence of such features of metaphorical information, such as a panoramic image, a large proportion of the unconscious in its structure, the plurality of figurative reflections.

5) Genre - forming function.

Genre - forming properties of metaphors can be called those which are involved in the creation of a certain genre.

6) An explanatory function.

In academic and popular scientific literature, metaphors play a very special role in helping to assimilate complex scientific information, terminology.

7) Emotional and evaluative function.

Metaphor is a great means of influence on the recipient's speech. A new metaphor in the text itself causes emotional and evaluative reactions of the recipient of speech.

In the new, unexpected context, the word not only gets emotional evaluation, but sometimes changes its assessment of the opposite.

8) Play function.

Metaphor is sometimes used as a means of comic relief as a form of language game.

10) The ritual function.

Metaphor has traditionally been used in the greetings, greetings, holiday toasts, as well as in the expression of condolences and sympathy. So its function can be called a ritual.

Thus, we have found out the main points of the use of metaphors in the speech, defined the notion of metaphor as a linguistic unit. Furthermore, we considered the basic functions of metaphor. According to our research we can do the following conclusions: a metaphor as the linguistic phenomenon commonly accompanies language and speech; the study of metaphor involved in many linguists, they are considered a metaphor from different points of view and give their definitions of this phenomenon in the language. We, in this work are of the opinion Chudinov A. P, which defines metaphor as a basic mental operation that combines two conceptual scopes and makes it possible to use the potency of structuring the scope of the source with the new scope. We have also determined the function of metaphor, which gives Kharchenko V. K . From the above it is clear that metaphor performs in a speech sufficient number of different functions and are widely used in the language.

Chapter II. The Theory of Concept

II.1 The Notion of Concept in Linguistics

At the present time the concept is the key notion of cognitive linguistics.

Y.S. Stepanov defines the concept as follows: “The concept - is like a bunch of culture in human consciousness in the form of what culture is a mental world of man. And, on the other hand, the concept - is that by which a person - ordinary person, not “the creator of cultural values” - himself enters in the culture, and in some cases affects it. [12: 824]

S.A. Askoldov, who one of the first referred to the study of concepts, considered the concept “mental entity that replaces in the mental activity a lot of objects of the same kind.” He further said that “one should not, of course, think that the concept is always a replacement of real objects, it may be the replacement of different kinds.” [4: 267 - 279]

G.G. Slyshkin and V. I. Karasik understand the concept as “a multidimensional mental unit with a dominant value element.” [8: 75 - 80] Concept groups around some “strong” point of consciousness, from which associative vectors diverge. The most relevant associations for native speakers are the nuclear of concept, the less significant - the periphery. According to their view the concept hasn't clear boundaries. Language or speech units, which updated the central point of the concept, is the name of the concept. Concept characterized by a set of “entrances”, i.e. units of speech and language with which this concept is actualized in the mind of its informant. Entrances to the concept may relate to different levels of language. To appeal to one and the same concept lexemes, idioms, free combinations, suggestions, and texts are used.

Z.D. Popova and I.A. Sternin define the concept as a complex mental entity which is in the process of mental activity turns the different sides actualizing in the process of thinking its different signs and layers; appropriate signs or layers of the concept may not have the linguistic symbols in native language. [13: 81 - 90] Concept are represented in language with ready lexemes from the lexical-phraseological language system, free phrases, structural and positional diagrams bringing model propositions (syntactic concepts), the text and the set of texts. Concepts can be stable - have ascribed to them linguistic means of verbalization, and unstable - don't have assigned to them verbalization, yet emerging, deeply personal, rarely, or almost not verbalized. The presence of a linguistic expression for the concept, its regular verbalization support the concept stability, steady state, make it well known (because the meanings of words, which is transmitted, are well known, they are interpreted by native speakers, recognized in the dictionaries).

The authors propose the following model of the concept: a sensual base image is the nuclear of the concept, acting as a universal way of encoding the object code. This image belongs to the everyday layer of consciousness and according to some observations, has an operational or substantive nature, based on biodynamic and sensuous fabric of consciousness. Base image is surrounded with a concrete sense by its origin the cognitive layer, which reflects the sensual perceived properties, attributes of the object. This layer together with the base layer refers to the everyday layer of consciousness. Further in the structure of the concept (although not all concepts) are allocated more abstract layers, reflecting a certain stage of everyday signs related to the reflective layer of consciousness. Finally, the interpretative field of concept, which includes the evaluation of the content, interpreting some cognitive signs and forming the national consciousness arising from the contents of the concept the advice about comprehension of reality, may be associated with the spiritual level of consciousness, which involves a broad sense, an assessment of the concept in terms of its value to the nation.

Chapter III. Metaphoric Representation of the Concept “Beauty” in English Proverbs

In the following chapter we'll try to find out the meaning of the concept “beauty” in the English language and its metaphoric presentation in proverbs as it will help us to understand the peculiarities of this concept in the given language.

At first we referred to the dictionaries. We found out that the concept “beauty” in Oxford dictionary has the following meanings:

1. a combination of qualities, such as shape, colour, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight I was struck by her beauty | an area of outstanding natural beauty.

2. a combination of qualities that pleases the intellect; denoting something intended to make someone more attractive beauty treatment.

3. a beautiful or pleasing thing or person, in particular; a beautiful woman a blonde beauty .

4. an excellent example of something.

5. the pleasing or attractive features of (something)

6. the best aspect or advantage of something.

According to Collins English Dictionary beauty is:

1. the combination of all the qualities of a person or thing that delight the senses and please the mind.

2. the state or quality of being beautiful

So, as we can see in English consciousness “beauty” is connected with excellence, pleasure, grace, loveliness, health; both animated and inanimated things can be beautiful. Beauty is the quality which brings some aesthetic pleasure.

We studied English proverbs and made a conclusion that beauty can be internal and external. The concept “beauty” is metaphorically represented through such concepts: soul, face, clothes and actions. Internal beauty is the beauty of soul and external - the beauty of clothes, face and actions.

We classified the proverbs which we had analyzed according to the internal and external beauty.

1. The first group includes proverbs which express external beauty:

a) represent beauty through the concept clothes:

Good clothes open all doors.

Fine feathers make fine birds.

The tailor makes the man.

According to these proverbs clothes are the part of the external beauty, they can make people look better; clothes play one of the main parts in connecting people's relationships, especially in modern life. Person's clothes can say a lot about his social status, job, etc.

b) represent beauty through the concept face:

A good face is a letter of recommendation.

The face is the index of the mind.

These proverbs show us that appearance is also a part of beauty, sometimes it can help person to reach some success, to attract people.

c) represent beauty through the concept action:

Handsome is that handsome does.

A tree is known by its fruit.

These proverbs express the idea that beauty is not only face or clothes, but also person's actions. It's very important to do beautiful things which speak well of the person as there are many cases when people with good face and clothes do bad, harmful things which destroy their reputation. So, person's actions tell about his nature.

2. The second group contains the proverbs expressing internal beauty:

a) representing beauty through the concept soul:

A little body often harbours a great soul.

A rich heart may be under a poor coat.

Heart rather than appearance.

These proverbs show the inner beauty, person's soul. Often people with simple appearance have great soul, reach inner world, they are kind and do good things. So, people shouldn't underestimate persons who are not good - looking. Especially in our modern life we are convinced that pretty face, good figure and expensive clothes are the most important things, and unfortunately, people forget about the beauty of human's soul.

There are a number of proverbs in English which express the concept “beauty” from the other point of view. In this proverbs beauty is represented as something deceptive, changeable and temporal; a feature which, in fact, hasn't any great value.

Appearances are deceitful.

Never judge a book by its cover.

You cannot judge a tree by its bark.

These proverbs represent beauty as something that people shouldn't relay on as it is deceitful. One mustn't judge a person only by his appearance, as it can't give real information about him. It often happens that people like someone or something which seems to them rather attractive at first sight but then they become disappointed. And in contrary, people sometimes can think badly about others by their appearance without taking into consideration their inner world.

A fair face may hide a foul heart.

Fair without, foul within.

Many a fine dish has nothing on it.

According to these proverbs person's heart and soul are considered as the more important thing than face or appearance. These set of proverbs prove again that good - looking people can have evil heart, dark soul and remind us that one mustn't judge person by his appearance, as it can be deceiving.

After analysing all these proverbs we can say that the concept “beauty” has a wide meaning in the English language, as it isn't only loveliness, excellence, and grace. The concept beauty is metaphorically represented through other notions, ideas, which open the depth of beauty from different views and help to understand its peculiarities in the given language.

Good clothes open all doors.

A good face is a letter of recommendation.

Handsome is that handsome does.

A rich heart may be under a poor coat.

Beauty is also represented in the negative meaning as well as in positive, because it is considered as something deceitful, which has no great value. Person's soul and heart are still more important. People shouldn't judge from appearance.

Appearances are deceitful.

You cannot judge a tree by its bark.

A fair face may hide a foul heart.

So, we can see that the concept “beauty” is wide spread in English proverbs, maybe, because people pay it great attention, and it is also of some value for them. But beauty is represented from different points of view. From one hand it is important and plays a great part in people's life, but from the other hand, the beauty of soul and heart are of greater value, as loveliness is something temporary and changeable.

So, due to the metaphoric representation of the concept “beauty” in proverbs, we can understand what it means in English consciousness, how they understand and perceive beauty, and what their real attitude to this concept is.

Conclusion

According to our research we can do the following conclusions: a metaphor as the linguistic phenomenon commonly accompanies language and speech; the study of metaphor involved in many linguists, they are considered a metaphor from different points of view and give their definitions of this phenomenon in the language. We, in this work are of the opinion Chudinov A. P, which defines metaphor as a basic mental operation that combines two conceptual scopes and makes it possible to use the potency of structuring the scope of the source with the new scope. We have also determined the function of metaphor, which gives Kharchenko V. K . From the above it is clear that metaphor performs in a speech sufficient number of different functions and are widely used in the language.

In our practical chapter we found out the meaning of the concept “beauty” in the English language and its metaphoric presentation in proverbs as it helped us to understand the peculiarities of this concept in the given language.

At first we referred to the dictionaries and found out what is the meaning of the concept “beauty” in the English language. So, as we can see in English consciousness “beauty” is connected with excellence, pleasure, grace, loveliness, health; both animated and inanimated things can be beautiful. Beauty is the quality which brings some aesthetic pleasure.

We studied English proverbs and made a conclusion that beauty can be internal and external. The concept “beauty” is metaphorically represented through such concepts: soul, face, clothes and actions. Internal beauty is the beauty of soul and external - the beauty of clothes, face and actions.

We classified the proverbs which we had analysed according to the internal and external beauty. The first group includes proverbs which express external beauty through the concept clothes, face and action. Second group contains the proverbs expressing internal beauty through the concept soul.

There are a number of proverbs in English which express the concept “beauty” from the other point of view. In this proverbs beauty is represented as something deceptive, changeable and temporal; a feature which, in fact, hasn't any great value.

These proverbs represent beauty as something that people shouldn't relay on as it is deceitful. One mustn't judge a person only by his appearance, as it can't give real information about him.

After analysing all these proverbs we can say that the concept “beauty” has a wide meaning in the English language, as it isn't only loveliness, excellence, grace. The concept beauty is metaphorically represented through other notions, ideas, which open the depth of beauty from different views and help to understand its peculiarities in the given language. Beauty is also represented in the negative meaning as well as in positive, because it is considered as something deceitful, which has no great value. Person's soul and heart are still more important. People shouldn't judge from appearance.

So, we can see that the concept “beauty” is wide spread in English proverbs, maybe, because people pay it great attention, and it is also of some value for them. But beauty is represented from different points of view. From one hand it is important and plays a great part in people's life, but from the other hand, the beauty of soul and heart are of greater value, as loveliness is something temporary and changeable.

So, due to the metaphoric representation of the concept “beauty” in proverbs, we can understand what it means in English consciousness, how they understand and perceive beauty, and what their real attitude to this concept is.

References

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2. Арутюнова, Н.Д. Метафора и дискурс // Теория метафоры, 1990. - 350 c.

3. Арутюнова Н.Д. Типы языковых значений: Оценка. События. Факт. М., 1988. - 5 c.

4. Аскольдов С.А. Концепт и слово // Русская словесность. От теории словесности к структуре текста. Антология. / Под ред. проф. В.П. Нерознака. - М.: Academia, 1997. - 267 - 279 с.

5. Гусев, C.C. Наука и метафора. - Л.: ЛГУ, 1984. - 322 c.

6. Дубенец Э. М. Morden English Lexicology. Theory and Practice. - M.: Глосса - Пресса, 2002. - 127 - 131 с.

7. Дэвидсон Д. Что означают метафоры. - M. 1990. - 366 c.

8. Карасик В.И., Слышкин Г.Г. Лингвокультурный концепт как единица исследования // Методологические проблемы когнитивной лингвистики: Сб. науч. тр. / Под ред. И.А. Стернина. - Воронеж: ВГУ, 2001. - 75 - 80 с.

9. Кубрякова Е.С. Части речи в ономасиологическом освещении. М., 1978. - 64 c.

10. Минаева Л.В. Лексикология и лексикография английского языка. - М.: Ступени, 2003. - 61 - 71 с.

11. Скляревская, Г.Н. Метафора в системе языка / Г.Н. Скляревская. - СПб., 1993. - 271 c.

12. Степанов Ю.С. Константы. Словарь русской культуры. Опыт исследования 1997. - 824 с.

13. Стернин И.А., Попова З.Д. Язык как национальная картина мира, 2000. - 81 - 90 с.

14. Харченко В.К. Функции Метафоры. - Воронеж, 1992. - 115 - 125 с.

15. Arnold I. V. The English Word. - M., 1973. P. 209 - 222.

16. Ginzburg R.S. et al. A course in Modern English Lexicology. - M., 1979. P. 39 - 46.

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20. Bodrova J.V. Russian proverbs and sayings and their English equivalents. - M., 2008.

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