Cognitive metaphors in Thai

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Cognitive metaphors in Thai

Postby Richard » 14 Oct 2020 11:51

Based on the work of George Lakoff, the idea of cognitive or conceptual metaphors has become influential in research into English. Life is a journey or Anger is heat or Time is money are used to account for how people conceptualise the world. The idea is also used in CDA for specific texts where perhaps Politics is war. The field has been dominated by analyses of English conceptual metaphors. Are there any common conceptual metaphors in Thai? Are Thai conceptual metaphors different to those in English? If so, from a Whorfian perspective, does this mean that English and Thai speakers think differently?
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Re: Cognitive metaphors in Thai

Postby Jatupon P. » 23 Oct 2020 10:36

“เขาเป็นแพะรับบาป” is the Thai metaphor that comes up in my mind. This metaphor may be closest in meaning to “he is a scapegoat” in English metaphor, referring to a person who was blamed for something that someone else has done. If we compare these Thai and English version of metaphor, it can be roughly said that English and Thai speakers think in a quite similar way as the source domain of metaphor in Thai version (แพะรับบาป) and in English version (scapegoat) has strong semantic closeness.

However, things become more complex for the two languages that use clearly different analogical items to construct mataphoric languages. For example, “น้ำขึ้นให้รีบตัก” is used in Thai while “Make hay while the sun shines” is used in English to describe seizing opportunity while conditions are good. For these two languages with different analogical choices, it can suggest that English and Thai speakers think differently.

Whorfian perspective claiming that individuals using different analogical choices or structure should have different worldview does not convince me though. Such claim implies that language is a dominant entity that controls how a speaker of a language thinks about the world. However, I seem to think that what makes the speakers of the two languages think differently is not the language, but is the geographical, contextual and cultural factors. These factors also shape and control variations in each language use.

In this sense, "น้ำขึ้น" (rising tide) might be alternatively used in Thai as Thai people have traditionally been exposed to agricultural life where rising tide is deemed as good opportunity. In contrast, "shining sun" might be used by native speakers of English whose countries have to be confronted with long and extreme cold weather. This way, metaphorical language is just a communicative tool to help explain the reality in a colorful and dramatic way.
Jatupon P.
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Re: Cognitive metaphors in Thai

Postby ronnakritong » 08 Nov 2020 22:42

What about using 'buffalo' in Thai and 'sheep' in English as a symbol of stupidity? "You are dumb like a buffalo/sheep".
they both are unfairly stereotyped animals. In this case, do you think it's because of how people perceive the world differently through possibly cultural differences?
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