An Analysis of Conceptual Metaphs in President Barack Obama’s Speech at Fudan University毕业论文
1. 1 Previous researches on Conceptual Metaphor
1. 1. 1 Studies on Conceptual Metaphor by Foreign Scholars
About 2000 years ago, Aristotle first did research on the nature and functions of metaphor. As is known to all, metaphor refers to a comparison between unlike things without using “like” or “as”. During the time of ancient Greece, people always considered metaphor as a matter of human language rather than thought. However, with the development of cognitive linguistics, some scholars began to study metaphors from a brand-new perspective. Their views on metaphor shifted from a kind of figure of speech to a kind of particular mental mapping. Lakoff and Johnson first proposed the view of conceptual metaphor. In their famous book Metaphors We Live By, they reveals that metaphor is not only “a device of poetic imagination and the rhetorical flourish—a matter of extraordinary rather than ordinary language”, “it is pervasive in everyday life, in our thought and action” (Lakoff and Johnson 3). In cognitive linguistics, conceptual metaphor, or cognitive metaphor, refers to the understanding of one idea, or conceptual domain, in terms of another. A conceptual metaphor consists of the target domain and the source domain. In order to offer a better understanding of the interactive relationship between the two domains, Lakoff and Johnson introduce the term “mapping” from mathematics. A mapping process is to link one idea to another, which helps people understand the implied meaning of abstract concepts. Thus, conceptual metaphors are often seen in our communication and also affect our daily life.
Conceptual metaphor theory being put forward paves the way for many cognitive
linguists to carry out relevant study. The application of cognitive approaches extends the range of metaphor research from linguistics to philosophy or even politics. For example, Stern studies metaphor from a semantic perspective and shows us how metaphor can illuminate semantic theory in general and attempts to map out the semantic topography of metaphor. (Stern 90)Lopez explores metaphor and social structure in Society and Its Metaphors.(Lopez 96) Black studies persuasive power of
metaphor by discussing the relationship between politicians and rhetoric in his book
Politicians and Rhetoric.(Black 243)
1. 1. 2 Studies on Conceptual Metaphor by Chinese Scholars
In China, scholars have done research on Metaphor from the perspective of rhetoric because of some historical reasons. Therefore, Chinese scholars have not done research on Metaphor from the cognitive view until the emergence of the Chinese version of Metaphors We Live By. Zhao Yanfang initially published an essay about Conceptual Metaphor in 1994. A year later, she introduced the conceptual metaphor theory to Chinese linguistic circle. Yan Shiqing and Lin Shuwu also followed her footsteps in studying Conceptual Metaphor. At this point, Chinese studies on Metaphor are on the right track, and attract more attention.
1. 2 Purpose and Significance of the Thesis
1. 2. 1 Purpose
Nowadays, some scholars focus on the study of conceptual metaphor in political speeches. We all know that the function of a speech is to show speaker’s opinions on some issues in public. Delivering a speech is to illustrate certain ideas and attitudes, which must be closely related to real life. The purpose of a speech is to impress the audience, so that the audiences can empathize with the speaker’s point of view or attitude. Coincidently, conceptual Metaphors often play an important role in political speeches, thus making linguists always do research on some famous speeches given by celebrities.
In a word, this thesis will probe into the application of conceptual metaphors in President Barack Obama’s speech at Fudan University from the perspective of Mapping Theory, trying to find how vivid the words are by using conceptual metaphors.
2. 2 Significance
This thesis will analyze conceptual metaphors in President Barack Obama’s speech at Fudan University. In fact, President Barack Obama’s Speech at Fudan
University is not as famous as his inaugural speech. However, there are still lots of applications of conceptual metaphors showing in this speech. This speech was delivered by President Barack Obama after he was elected. He is the first US president to visit China within the first year of taking office. He said that Washington would work hard to build on newer relations with Asian nations, especially China. As Jeffery states,“ Metaphors offer solutions to political problems or events. They offer a course of action, and politicians hope their metaphors persuade the public to follow the prescription suggested by the metaphors.”(Jeffery 131) President Barack Obama used lots of conceptual metaphors in order to make his words more vivid and distinctive and enhance the appeal of his language. The accurate and appropriate use of conceptual metaphors brings President Barack Obama a positive impression.
In this part, Conceptual Metaphors in President Barack Obama’s speech at Fudan University will be analyzed from the perspective of Mapping Theory and its effects in political discourse will be illustrated.
2. 1 Metaphor
2. 1. 1 Definition of Metaphor
As we all know, metaphor is a word or phrase used to describe sb./sth., in a way that is different from its normal use, in order to show that the two things have the similar qualities and to make the description more powerful.
2. 1. 2 The Cognitive Function of Metaphor
In a famous book Metaphors We Live By, Lakoff and Johnson reveals that metaphor is not only “a device of poetic imagination and the rhetorical flourish—a matter of extraordinary rather than ordinary language”, “it is pervasive in everyday life, in our thought and action” (Lakoff and Johnson 3) In China, Shu Dingfang summarized four cognitive functions in metaphor. (Shu Dingfang 29) The first one is that human organize conceptual system on the basis of Metaphor. The second one is
that human regard Metaphor as a tool of summarizing experience. The third one is that Metaphor is a new angle to understand something. The last one is that Metaphor is a means of analogical reasoning. This part will focus on the first two functions in order to analyze Conceptual Metaphor.
2. 2 Conceptual Metaphor
2. 2. 1 Definition of Conceptual Metaphor
Cognitive linguists think that human organize conceptual system on the basis of Metaphor. Therefore, Conceptual Metaphor refers to the understanding of one conceptual domain in terms of another conceptual domain. For example: conceptual domain A is conceptual domain B. In other words, a conceptual domain that is understood in terms of another is called a conceptual metaphor.
2. 2. 2 Mapping Theory of Conceptual Metaphor
A conceptual metaphor consists of the target domain and the source domain. In order to offer a better understanding of the interactive relationship between the two domains, Lakoff and Johnson pointed out that the metaphor of the human conceptual system is a cross-domain mapping, the realization of the cross-domain mapping through the words, expression. In other words, a mapping process is to link one idea to another, which helps people understand the implied meaning of abstract concepts. In short, metaphor is a tool of summarizing experience.
2. 2. 2. 1 Source Domain
Conceptual domain from which we draw metaphorical expression to understand another conceptual domain is called source domain.(Zoltán Kövecses 116) Source domain is concrete and based on sensory experience, such as journeys, war, buildings, food, plants, etc.
2. 2. 2. 2 Target Domain
The target domain X is understood in terms of the source domain Y. (András Kertész 32) It is abstract, such as life, arguments, love, theory, ideas, social organizations, etc.
2. 2. 3 Classification of Conceptual Metaphor
According to Lakoff and Johnson, Conceptual Metaphor is divided into three main types: Structural Metaphor, Orientational Metaphor and Ontological Metaphor.
2. 2. 3. 1 Structural Metaphor
Structural Metaphors are “cases where one concept is metaphorically structured in terms of another”. (Lakoff and Johnson 14) Let me take “argument is war” as an example. Argument is the target domain and war is the source domain. Argument is conceptualized in terms of war. In other words, both argument and war have the same characteristic that is conflict. In structural metaphors, source domain provides a concrete understanding for the target domain. In our life, we still have another metaphorical expression:
He attacked every weak point in my argument. I demolished his argument.