Linguistics ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-15-2018



This dissertation presents a comparative study of the metaphoric and metonymic systems underlying the conceptualizations of two emotions, anger and sadness, in Vietnamese, American English, and Chinese. The analytic and theoretical approach is based on previous studies by Lakoff and Kövecses (1987), Kövecses (1988), Barcelona (1986), King (1989) and Yu (1995). The research presented here on emotion concepts reveals cultural variation and potential universals in the conceptualization of emotions. These results support the “Cultural Embodied Prototype” view proposed by Kövecses (2004:14) which proposes that conceptualizations of human emotions is motivated by both physiological embodied experiences (physiological embodiment) and the particular system of social-cultural experiences, which Maalej (2004, 2007, 2008) calls cultural embodiment.

This study, based on analysis of anger and sadness expressions in Vietnamese, presents conceptual metaphors, metonymies, and cognitive models of the two emotions in Vietnamese in order to examine the similarities and differences in the ways the two emotions are conceptualized in Vietnamese, Chinese, and American English.

Recent research on metaphor (e.g., Steen 1999; Cameron 1999; Semino et al., 2004; Pragglejaz Group 2007) have stressed the importance of rigorous metaphor identification procedures. This study offers a new metaphor identification procedure, based on the principles of the MIP (Pragglejaz Group 2007), which is designed to improve the identification of conceptual metaphors, especially those in discourse contexts.

I examine discourse contexts to focus, in particular, on the metaphors and metonymies of the emotions in the three languages in order to distinguish the physiological and cultural embodied experiences which motivate them. The results of this study show that the shared and possibly universal conceptualizations of emotions can be found at the generic level, while the cultural variations of emotion operate at the specific level. The study thus contributes to the research on universality versus cultural specificity of emotion conceptualizations by presenting linguistic evidence of the use of emotion language in Vietnamese.




metaphor, metonymy, emotion, cultural variations, universals, Vietnamese language

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Linguistics

First Committee Member (Chair)

Dr. Melissa Axelrod

Second Committee Member

Dr. Sherman Wilcox

Third Committee Member

Dr. Phyllis Wilcox

Fourth Committee Member

Dr. Zouhair Maalej

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Linguistics Commons