MINISTRY OF SCIENCE AND EDUCATION OF UKRAINE
LVIV POLYTECHNIC NATIONAL UNIVERSITY
INSTITUTE OF COMPUTER SCIENCES AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES
of Applied LinguisticsCOURSE PAPER IN CONTRASTIVE LEXICOLOGY AND
PHRASEOLOGY OF UKRAINIAN AND ENGLISH
COGNITIVE MECHANISMS OF FUNCTIONING OF IDIOMS WITH CORE COMPONENT “????” I “HAND”
the student of the group FL31
Supervised bythe senior lecturerR. Z. Nazarchuk
1. Theoretical part
1.1. The role of idioms
Cognitive mechanisms reflect the work of human consciousness and give an idea of the ways of analysis, structuring of specific objects and abstract entities. Particular attention is paid to the study of the metaphor by cognitivists, believing that it occupies a central place in the cognitive model of speech.
Idioms are a necessary unavoidable cognitive and linguistic tool in English. They usually contain two layers of meaning: literal and extended. Literal meaning can be directly obtained from the literal meaning of constituent parts of the idioms, while extended meaning is generalized and abstracted on the basis of literal meaning.
In accordance to Kövecses,Chen and Lai in cognitive linguistic view majority of idiomatic expressions are based on conceptual metaphors and metonymies. This means that they are “conceptually motivated” by metaphors and metonymies. Cognitive linguistics views metaphor and metonymy as helping mechanisms to structure the human conceptual system.The human conceptual system is largely metaphorical and controls systematic metaphorical mappings between abstract and concrete conceptual domains. Abstract structures are meaningful only indirectly, and can be understood due to their systematic relationship to directly meaningful structures. Conceptual metaphors and metonymies that help import structure to certain abstract domains of our experience, are motivated by, and grounded in, our bodily experience. This grounding provides the experiential basis of metaphor and metonymy. Idioms, which make use of parts of the human body, are more predictable than other idioms, simply because as human beings, we are completely familiar with our perceptions of the shape, size, and functions of individual parts of our own bodies, and we experience them every day. This is why it is easier for us to interpret the meaning of idiomatic expressions containing parts of the human body than, for example, idioms which contain names of animals.
1.2. ?onceptual methaphor and conceptual methaphor theory
A conceptual metaphor is not used in language, but is rather a conceptual idea in our minds that allows us to create a multitude of metaphorical linguistic expressions based on this metaphor. Kövecses (2010) summarises this relationship efficiently: “We can state the nature of the relationship between the conceptual metaphors and the metaphorical linguistic expressions in the following way: the linguistic expressions (i.e., ways of talking) make explicit, or are manifestations of, the conceptual metaphors (i.e.,ways of thinking)” . Metaphors are conceptual ideas in our minds, and they underlie the linguistic expressions that we use when talking. In his discussion on idioms, Kövecses (2010) claims that “idioms are products of our conceptual system and not simply a matter of language … hence the meanings of idioms can be seen as motivated and not arbitrary”. According to him, it is no accident that idioms look the way they do; they have been motivated by conceptual mechanisms when they were coined. Kövecses (2010) goes on to list the three most common conceptual mechanisms behind idioms: “The kinds of mechanisms that seem to be especially relevant in the case of many idioms are metaphor, metonymy, and conventional knowledge” . These three aspects of our conceptual system seem to play a vital role in the formation of idioms, and it is important to understand what is understood by these terms.
Conceptual metaphor theory is one of the most important ones in cognitive linguistics. It holds that metaphor is not a mere matter of words, but also an important way of categorization and conceptualization of human beings; the aim of conceptual metaphor is to realise and experience one thing or entity in terms of another; metaphor is both linguistic and conceptual phenomenon; our thoughts, languages and action are constructed based on conceptual metaphors; metaphorical expressions are the representation of metaphorical thoughts; the essence of our thoughts is metaphorical, and the essence of metaphor is conceptual; metaphorical mapping operates between two different conceptual domains; the direction of mapping is from the source domain to the target domain, and the basis of metaphorical mapping is abstract image schema structures . Conceptual metaphor is an important cognitive mechanism, which plays a major role in the meaning extension of the idioms.
1.3. Cognitive approach to idiom analysis
For instance, idioms can be approached in a cognitive linguistic way, which suggests that some idioms have analysable characteristics and the meanings can in fact be derived from the components . A comparative-contrastive description of the idioms is as necessary as useful since it allows a better understanding of their behaviour and of the boundaries conditioning their appropriate use. It becomes obvious that Cognitive Linguistics, with its experiential theory, has brought a completely new alternative analysis to the study of idiomatic language. Moreover, the cognitive linguistic approach is often thought of as one of the most useful methods in teaching idioms since the aim is to teach how to use the idioms and not only to learn them by heart .
?ognitive linguistics divides metaphors into two: conceptual metaphors and image metaphors . Image metaphors are conceptually simpler and are based on resemblance between two entities, whereas conceptual metaphors involve the mapping of rich knowledge and inferential structure which gives rise to a larger number of linguistic expressions . Besides, the cognitive semantic view can facilitate the learning and understanding of idioms for non-native speakers.
Cognitive linguistics claim that most idioms are motivated, where motivation arises from conventional images, conceptual metaphors and conceptual metonymies, which provide the link” between the idiom and its meaning.1.4. System of idioms
Cognitive Linguistics has managed to successfully create a system in idioms. Cognitive linguists have grouped idioms and created a system based on their common concepts. As an example, expressions such as spark off and fan the flame have one common concept: fire. The idioms can be considered as motivated conceptually by general knowledge of the world, which entails a systematic structure that characterises a corresponding coherent system of the idiomatic structure . Chen and Lai (2013: 15) have brought an example of fire-related idioms used to describe the emotion anger, by using FIRE as the source domain and ANGER as a target domain and the connection made between the two ANGER IS FIRE.
This means that idioms can in fact be considered as motivated rather than arbitrary. Moreover, the connection between the concepts is called conceptual metaphor and it illustrates the connection between fire and anger. Conceptual metaphors are usually represented in capital letters . According to Chen and Lai it is easy to develop an understanding of the meaning of idioms through the awareness and knowledge of the conceptual metaphors behind them. However, according to Gibbs conceptual metaphors are not fixed, but rather created by the linguists following their intuition .
In other words, cognitive linguists follow their intuition to uncover language-mind links, image schemas and conceptual metaphors. Image schema is considered to be an abstract conceptual representation of the embodied experience of the everyday interaction and the observation of the world around us .
Gibbs (2007) questions cognitive linguists’ intuition-based approach because it focuses too heavily on introspection about matters of linguistic structure and behaviour, but agrees that intuition is a 13 necessary source for constructing hypotheses and suggests caution in creating conceptual metaphors, experiments etc. Stöver states that in order to have metaphoric understanding and not experience tension between the literal and non-literal while encountering a metaphor, learners should be made aware of metaphoricity (Moon 2009) and what it contains . In other words, using conceptual metaphors while teaching figurative language is not useful if the learners have not been familiarised with the concept and how it can be used.
1.5. Methods of idiom analysis
A comparative analysis of idioms is based on a confrontation of a source and a target language with the aim of finding parallel lexical items. According to Kvetko (Frazeológia 101), idioms of two different languages can be approached either from the systematic linguistic point of view (contrastive approach) or from the point of view of translating idioms in literary texts (translation approach).
In the contrastive approach idioms of L1 are compared with idioms of L2, the focus being placed on the mutual equivalence and language interference. Differences may occur in the form, content, meaning and usage of individiual words and expressions. Contrastive phraseology reveals that when comparing idioms of two different languages, two types of equivalents are recognized – phraseological or non-phraseological (word, collocation or periphrasis). An idiom either has its idiomatic counterpart in the target language or an idiomatic equivalent is not available because it either does not exist or the reality described by the idiom is not known in the target language. Such an idiom can be then substituted by a non-idiomatic counterpart, periphrasis or calque. As far as the degree of equivalence is concerned, Kvetko proposes three basic types (Lexicology 109) :
absolute equivalence – idioms that literally correspond in several languages and come from the same source allowing for some variations, however, mutual correspondence prevails
relative equivalence – idioms have identical or very close meaning but different lexical items
non-equivalence – idioms that do not have their idiomatic equivalent and need to be substituted by a word, collocation or description
Within the spheres of absolute and relative equivalents Kvetko further distinguishes between the identical and close equivalents on the one hand, and partially and totally differentiated equivalents on the other (Frazeológia 103).
Based on Kvetko’s broad distinction and with regard to the continuum of absolute and relative equivalents, the degree of similarities and differencies between the idiomatic expressions will be in this thesis explored and sorted into the following categories:
Absolute equivalence – the idioms in both languages are identical in terms of semantic, lexical and formal level
Close equivalence – in this group belong idioms with a certain extent of varieties, however, these are not considered as substantial, such as morphological deviation (different grammatical case or preposition, use of singular in one idiom and plural in the other, use of compounds as opposed to single words)
Partial equivalence – the idioms are semantically equivalent but realized with different constructions (use of different lexical means, different body lexeme, different syntactic structure, holonyms or meronyms, etc.)
Non-equivalence – these idioms do not have any equivalents and are expressed non-idiomatically
The above listed categories will be more elaborated on in the practical part of the paper.
2. Practical Part2.1. Idioms with core component “????”in Ukrainian and “HAND” in English
The idiomatic expressions in which the other two cognitive links, i.e. conceptual metaphors and metonymies, motivate the figurative meaning of idioms are examined and divided into groups accordingly.
THE HAND STANDS FOR THE PERSON
In the English idiom from hand to hand, the hand is taken to mean the person, i.e. one part of the body is taken to mean the whole body. This idiom has its Ukrainian equivalent in ?? ??? ? ???? (literally ‘from hand to hand’). We know that when we pass something to someone, we have to use our hands to hold it and the person receiving it uses the hands too. The conceptual metonymy THE HAND STANDS FOR THE PERSON seems to act as the linking vehicle which connects the literal meaning of this idiom to its idiomatic meaning, which is ‘to pass something directly, from one person to another’.
This conceptual metonymy can also be said to underlie the idiom to ask for someone’s hand (in Ukrainian ??????? ?????? ????; literally ‘to ask someone for the hand.)
THE HAND STANDS FOR THE PERSON actually refers to the person one wishes to marry. This conceptual metonymy links the literal meaning of the idiom, the act of asking a particular person for their hand, with the idiomatic meaning, which is ‘to ask a woman to become one’s wife’. The conventional knowledge which is also at work here is the image people have when a man asks a woman to marry him, that is usually holding the woman’s hand in the process. This act probably comes from the traditional Christian marriage service in which the woman’s hand is placed into the man’s by her father or guardian. Finally, we could mention the idiom to be someone’s right-hand man (in Ukrainian ???? ?????? ?????? ?????; literally ‘to be someone’s right hand’) which means ‘to be someone’s chief helper, advisor’.
THE HAND STANDS FOR THE ACTIVITY
The conceptual metonymy THE HAND STANDS FOR THE ACTIVITY seems to motivate the figurative meaning of the idiom to give a helping hand, which can also be helping hand to someone’). Conventional knowledge tells us that people are usually active. We also know that the vehicle used in various activities is the hand. Here we can see a combination of conventional knowledge and the metonymy THE HAND STANDS FOR THE ACTIVITY at work when language users make sense of this idiom, whose meaning is ‘to help someone’. This metonymy can also be said to motivate the meaning of the idiom to sit on one’s hands (in Ukrainian ?????? ??????? ????; literally ‘with one’s hands/arms folded’). We know that if we do not use our hands to work, we are usually not manually active. The conceptual metonymy THE HAND STANDS FOR THE ACTIVITY seems to be connecting the literal meaning of this idiom with the figurative meaning, which is ‘to be inactive, to do nothing’. Another example of this metonymy being at work is the idiom which is also in Ukrainian ??’????? ?????? ???? (literally ‘to tie someone’s/one’s hands’). When our hands are tied together, we naturally cannot perform any activity with them. So the literal meaning of this idiom, having one’s hands tied, is connected to its idiomatic meaning with the conceptual metonymy THE HAND STANDS FOR THE ACTIVITY which, in this particular case, is negated and renders the meaning of the idiom as ‘not to be able to do anything.’ On the other hand, the idiom with one hand/both hands tied behind one’s back implies that something can be done very easily.
There are more examples of idioms in which this conceptual metonymy seems to be at play when motivating idiomatic meaning, such as to put one’s hands in one’s pockets (in Ukrainian again ?????? ??????? ????; literally ‘with one’s hands/arms folded’) meaning ‘to deliberately do nothing’, or to do something with one hand tied behind one’s back (in Ukrainian ?????? ????? (?????) literally ‘to do something with the left hand’ – here the left hand is considered to be more awkward or less capable than the right hand), meaning ‘to do something without much effort, very easily’. ++
THE HAND STANDS FOR THE SKILL
In order for us to perform an activity successfully, we have to possess a certain skill to do it. Conventional knowledge helps us in this respect, as we know that to be skillful at something requires learning very precise movements of the hand as well as remembering certain procedures in the process of becoming skillful. The conceptual metonymy THE HAND STANDS FOR THE SKILL, together with this conventional knowledge, seems to be the main motivation for the idiomatic meaning of the English expressions to have a hand in something (‘to have acquired the necessary skill to perform an activity’) which has its Ukrainian counterpart ?????? ???? (literally ‘to train hand’).
THE HAND STANDS FOR CONTROL
There are several expressions in Ukrainian and English which have to do with the notion of control over someone or something. For example, the English idiom (one’s) life is in (someone’s) hands which can be found in Ukrainian as ??????? ????? ????? ? ????? ????? (literally ‘to hold one’s life in someone’s hands’). The reason is that hands are usually used by the person to control the acts or processes. Also, the conceptual metonymy THE HAND STANDS FOR THE VEHICLE seems to be at work here.
This metonymy can also be found in the idiom to eat out of someone’s hand (in Ukrainian ???? ? ??????? ???; literally ‘to peck out of someone’s hand’) meaning ‘to be completely under someone’s control, like a captive animal.
CONTROL IS HOLDING IN THE HAND
It is not only conceptual metonymies which motivate the meaning of many idioms in Ukrainian and English. Many expressions which can be found in both these languages seem to be motivated by conceptual metaphors, as well as general conventional knowledge people share across cultures. For example, we have complete control over the thing (or person). The conceptual metaphor CONTROL IS HOLDING IN THE HAND seems to be connecting the literal meaning of this idiom (i.e. ‘holding something in one’s hands’) to its idiomatic meaning, which is generally understood as ‘to have complete control over something/someone’. The example where this conceptual metaphor seems to be at work is to fall into someone’s hands. The Ukrainian idiom which is close in meaning is ???????? ? ??????? ????? (literally ‘to be someone’s hands’). Here again, the language users of both languages know that if something or somebody ‘falls’ into our hands, it is probably done unintentionally. Once we hold something in our hands, we are the chief manipulator (for example Ukrainian ‘???? ???? — ???????’), we decide what is going to happen. The conceptual metaphor CONTROL IS HOLDING IN THE HAND links this knowledge to the figurative meaning of this idiom, which is ‘to unintentionally come under someone’s control’.
There are other idioms, both in English and Ukrainian, which further illustrate that this conceptual metaphor could be the element which plays a significant role in the motivation of these idioms. Such examples include the English idiom to be out of one’s hands (in Ukrainian ????????? ??? ???; literally ‘it has slipped out of my hands’) meaning ‘not to have any control over someone/something’.
AGREEMENT IS SHAKING HANDS
In the English idiom to shake hands on it which has its equivalent in the Ukrainian ‘????????? ???? ? ??????’ (literally ‘to shake hands on it’), the conceptual metaphor which seems to connect our conventional knowledge of the typical gestures associated with the human hand with the idiomatic meaning of this idiom (‘to agree on AGREEMENT IS SHAKING HANDS. Apart from the conventional knowledge which tells us that shaking hands means greeting people, we also know that after people have negotiated something, they usually shake hands with each other (which signifies a promise and also confirms that their intentions are honest). This knowledge is based on our life-long experience with people shaking hands after they have agreed upon something.
POSSESSION IS HOLDING SOMETHING IN THE HAND.
English idiom a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush has its equivalence in Ukrainian ‘????? ?????? ? ?????, ??? ???????? ? ???? ‘(literally ‘the titmouse in hands is better than a crane in the sky’)which means ‘a smaller advantage which can be taken now is better than a bigger advantage at an uncertain time in the future’. The metaphor can also be found to motivate the idiom to pass from hand to hand (in Ukrainian ? ??? ? ???? ; literally ‘to go from hand to hand’) which means ‘to change owners’. A further example could be mentioned here, e.g. from first hand (in Ukrainian ? ?????? ???; literally ‘from first hand’) whose idiomatic meaning, ‘from the first owner/possessor’ also seems to be linked with its literal meaning by the conceptual metaphor POSSESSION IS HOLDING SOMETHING IN THE HAND.
FREEDOM TO ACT IS HAVING THE HANDS FREE29 This conceptual metaphor very likely underlies the motivation of an idiomatic phrase which can be found in both Czech and English. It is the English idiom to have a free hand in something which finds its Czech counterpart in mít volnou ruku/volné ruce v nìèem (literally ‘to have a free hand/free hands in something’). We know that if our hands are not involved in an activity, we can decide of our own will what to do. Also, if our hands are not full of anything, we are free to do what we wish. The conceptual metaphor FREEDOM TO ACT IS HAVING THE HANDS FREE seems to be linking the knowledge we have about the hand not being used in an activity with the image of freedom which is expressed in this idiom. Thus the meaning of this idiom, ‘to be able to decide of one’s own free will’ is arrived at with the help of the conceptual metaphor.
COOPERATION IS HOLDING HANDS
(???? ???? ???)
In the English idiom is to be hand in glove with someone (also found in Ukrainian as ???? ???? ????? (???????) — ???? ?????? (???????: ? ???? ??? ?????; ? ???? ????? ?????). literally ‘…’)?? the conceptual metaphor COOPERATION IS HOLDING HANDS seems to be at work. We know that THE HAND STANDS FOR THE ACTIVITY and our conventional knowledge tells us that when we work together with someone, we join our efforts in cooperation. The conceptual metaphor COOPERATION IS HOLDING HANDS seems to be linking the literal meaning of the idiom to its figurative counterpart, which is ‘to cooperate’. Another example which illustrates the point is the idiom someone’s left hand does not know what the right hand is doing (in Czech levá ruka neví, co dìlá pravá; literally ‘the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing’). We know that when we perform a manual activity, we usually use both our hands in coordination so as to achieve the best desired result. When we use only one hand in an activity in which both hands are necessary, we are awkward and cannot easily reach our goal. The conceptual metaphor underlying the motivation of this idiom seems to be COOPERATION IS HOLDING HANDS. Another cognitive mechanism which helps us link the literal to the figurative meaning of this idiom (‘the activities of an organization are not coordinated and there is confusion’) is the conceptual metonymy THE HAND STANDS FOR THE PERSON (??).
TO BE HONEST IS TO HAVE CLEAN HANDS
There are several idiomatic expressions in both Ukrainian and English which relate to honesty. It is the idiom ???? ????? ???? (literally ‘to have clean hands’) which is also in English as to have clean hands. These expressions seem to be motivated by the conceptual metaphor TO BE HONEST IS TO HAVE CLEAN HANDS. This idiom is motivated by the knowledge of people who have committed a serious crime (usually murder) and have blood on their hands. The conceptual metaphor TO BE HONEST IS TO HAVE CLEAN HANDS helps to convey this knowledge to the figurative meaning of this idiom which is ‘to be honest’. Another expression which illustrates the point is (also in Ukrainian as ???? ????? ???? ?? ????? ; literally ‘to have someone’s blood on one’s hands’) whose figurative meaning is ‘to be involved in some dishonest/illegal activity’. An extension of this idiom is the expression to wash one’s (dirty) hands of something, also in the Czech (u)mýt si nad nìèím ruce (literally ‘to wash one’s hands over something’) which means ‘to transfer one’s responsibility for one’s wrong-doings to someone else so as to avoid it’. All these expressions seem to be motivated by the conceptual metaphor TO BE HONEST IS TO HAVE CLEAN HANDS which links their literal with their figurative meaning.
Naturally, there are idioms which are not shared by both languages. Such expressions, which do not have Czech equivalents, include the English idiom to play a lone hand which means ‘to manage one’s life/to do a project without cooperation’, or the idiom the devil finds work for idle hands (meaning ‘people who are lazy will usually resort to doing something mischievous’). Both these expressions seem to be motivated by the conceptual metonymy THE HAND STANDS FOR THE PERSON. A Czech idiom which does not have an English equivalent but which is also motivated by the conceptual metonymy THE HAND STANDS FOR THE PERSON, is, or example, prodloužená ruka (zákona) (literally ‘the extended hand (of law)’), meaning ‘institutions which execute law and order, usually the police’.
As can be seen from the above examples, people rely on many images of the hands which are anchored in everyday experiences they have about the uses, function, position, and shape of the hand. Thus the hand is taken to represent the person, the instrument, the activity, the skill. People also seem to conceptualize control, freedom to act, possession and cooperation on the basis of their images of the human hand
The selected English and Ukrainian idioms have been analysed and divided into the following four categories according to the level of their equivalence:
1. Absolute equivalence
The compared idioms correspond on all three levels, i.e. on the semantic, lexical and formal (syntactic) level.
the hand idioms, since they are used to conceptualize the most frequently addressed target domains of the specific body part as well as its characteristics.
This is also supported by the fact that most of the English human body idioms are hand idioms according to the database. Our everyday experiences with our hands provide the cognitive basis for us to conceptualize more accepted wisdom that are abstract, thus the hands can be used in the conceptualization of various target domains. All the metaphors and metonymies describing these targets are well grounded in our cognitive system and do not contradict our conventional knowledge about the hand. Thus, the hand is taken to represent the person, the instrument, the activity, the skill and we seem to conceptualize control, freedom, possession and cooperation based on the images of the human hand. In addition, achieving goals are an important facet of hand idioms, which are commonly addressed by linguistic expressions of the Even Structure metaphor system.