Emotion Expressing Idioms in English and Vietnamese: A Contrastive Analysis

Van-trao Nguyen (2009). Emotion Expressing Idioms in English and Vietnamese: A Contrastive Analysis PhD Thesis, School of Languages and Comp Cultural Studies, The University of Queensland.

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Author Van-trao Nguyen
Thesis Title Emotion Expressing Idioms in English and Vietnamese: A Contrastive Analysis
School, Centre or Institute School of Languages and Comp Cultural Studies
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2009-10
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Prof. Ping Chen
Prof. Roland Sussex
Total pages 350
Subjects 20 Language, Communication and Culture
Abstract/Summary Abstract Language is a repertoire of culture and a powerful and versatile medium in communication. Idioms mirror human wisdom in the process of conceptualization of the world. Idioms have interlocked and grown into records of a community’s past culture. Idioms therefore constitute a rich, but at the same time elusive, area of cross-cultural exchanges. Idioms reflect the colour and variety of human social activities, and so play an important role in the linguistic ontologization of emotions. The vocabulary of emotions has been the object of intensive investigations in many languages, but bibliographical exploration reveals that idioms as a component of the lexicon are not yet part of the main field of theoretical interest. In particular, while there have been studies of idioms of emotion in English, there have been few on emotion idioms in Vietnamese, and very few systematic investigations of emotion idioms (EIs) across English and Vietnamese. Hence, our linguistic study of the conceptualization of emotions in English and Vietnamese will significantly contribute to the development of this research domain with data from a language other than English. The study undertakes a contrastive investigation of idioms that express the seven basic emotional concepts of HAPPINESS, SADNESS, ANGER, DISGUST, LOVE, FEAR, and DESIRE in English and Vietnamese. There are three foci: (1) similarities and differences in formal structure between the EIs in English and Vietnamese; (2) similarities and differences in semantics between such idioms; and (3) an investigation of the patterning and regularities of the established similarities and differences between the EIs in the two languages. To the end, we have conducted a hand search approach of the dictionaries in both languages, which has enabled the establishing of a corpus of 1065 entries (603 for English and 462 for Vietnamese). As regards the formal structure, the study sets up the lexicogrammatical frames for the canonical forms and variation patterns of the idioms, and interrelates quantitatively and quantitatively the relationship of the idioms’ variant form vis-à-vis the canonical form. In light of the findings, the study has shown that a high level of canonicity is observed in the idioms in both English and Vietnamese. In general, they conform to a restricted number of construction types: verbal, nominal, adjectival, prepositional, and sentential. Nevertheless, many other idioms permit variable flexibility in their composition: the substitutability of their component parts, insertion of lexical items, and some variation in syntactic patterning. For the idioms which are logged as canonical and variant, we have suggested rules to cover the patterns. As regards the semantic features of the idioms, the study is substantially reliant on the theory of conceptual metaphor (CMT) and metonymy, as first developed by Lakoff & Johnson (1980), to analyze the data. The data analysis leads to the discovery of conceptual mappings/correspondences from the various source domains on to the target domains of emotions, which are very productive of idioms. An in-depth analysis of cross-linguistic and cross-cultural aspects in the idioms is provided to determine similarities and differences in terms of conceptualization of the emotions between the two languages. The contrastive analysis of idioms reported in the traditional literature is usually the comparison of idioms with body-part terms: e.g., mát mặt (‘cool face’) ‘HAPPINESS’ in Vietnamese; lose one’s head in English, animals: e.g., gầm như hổ đói (‘roar like tiger hungry’); go ape ‘ANGER’, and colours: e.g., đỏ mặt tía tai (‘red face purple ear’); blue in the face ‘ANGER’. The present analysis seeks greater explanatory depth and theoretical grounding in the framework of cognitive linguistics. We present the semantic patterning of the idioms, and the patterning in turn reveals how English and Vietnamese people talk about and structure the abstract conceptual domains (i.e., emotions) (Gibbs & Wilson, 2002). In light of the findings, this research has revealed both commonalities and differences in the conceptualization of the emotions in English and Vietnamese. The affinities are grounded in common bodily experiences. On the other hand, cross-cultural variations are also obvious. The most important conclusion that can be drawn for the study is that metaphors and metonymies involved in emotion-expressing idioms are not only heavily subject to physiological basis (Solomon, 1984), but also to cultural influences on the basis of the cultural image schemas (Dobrovol'skij & Piirainen, 2006; Emanatian, 1995; Geeraerts & Grondelaers, 1995; Ungerer, 1993). The thesis also presents implications concerning the linguistic ontologization of emotions, and their application to second language learning and the translation of idioms.
Keyword idioms, idiomaticity, conventionality, English-Vietnamese contrastive idiom analysis, theory of conceptual metaphor and metonymy, conceptual domains, image schemas, folk theory, cultural models

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Created: Mon, 23 Aug 2010, 15:01:25 EST by Mr Van-trao Nguyen on behalf of Library - Information Access Service