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OVER THE MOON: A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF ENGLISH AND CZECH


METAPHORS FOR HAPPINESS
Abstract
El presente estudio examinae las similitudes y las diferencias entre las metforas utilizadas
para hablar de la felicidad en el ingls y el checo. A nivel bsico se encontraron muchas
similitudes, pero a los sub niveles existen diferencias importantes en la conceptualizacin
de la felicidad.

A traditional view of metaphor is that it is a poetic embellishment which does not add
information (Gibbs, 1994 in El-Haq and El-Shairf, 2008). In this view metaphor is not
necessary it is just nice (Yu, 1995: 60). Others regard it as a sort of special language
which does have a basic meaning (Slingerland, 2004 in El-Haq and El-Shairf, 2008).
However, contemporary approaches to metaphor follow the highly influencialinfluential
work of Lakoff and Johnson (1980) who claim that metaphor is a means of understanding
and experiencing one kind of thing in terms of another (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980: 42), that
is they are not just lyrical embellishments, as an Aristotelian perspective would have it, but
serve an important function in cognitive organization and conceptualization of events.
One argument is that metaphor is not just a figure of speech, it is a figure of thought and is
a process by which we understand and structure one domain of experience in terms of
another domain of a different kind (Johnson, 1987: 15). Metaphor is central to the
understanding of cognition in as much as it reflects cognitive organisational structure.
One claim is that metaphor is central to the conceptualization of emotions. This is supposed
to be a universal concept central to the cognitive structure of all languages. However, such
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is the hegemonic dominance of the English language; the vast majority of studies of
metaphor are derived from English.
In a previous cross-cultural investigation I examined Coleman and Kays (1981) semantic
definition of a lie, which has largely been accepted as universal. I applied their criteria to a
Spanish speaking community and found that there were significant differences in how lie
was defined. To be able to claim universality, a concept has to be applicable to languages
other than English. More scrutiny needs to be placed on concepts and definitions which
claim universality and cross-cultural investigation is one way of achieving this.
The study of metaphor has increased but there is still a dearth of cross-cultural evidence to
support claims of universality. This area still needs further investigation. Cross-cultural
investigation is important because language reflects cultural particularities; cross-cultural
studies of metaphor should reveal similarities and differences between linguistic
conceptualization of emotions.
Previous Studies
Yu (1995) demonstrates that there are common central metaphors for the conceptualization
of happiness and anger between English and Chinese. However, these central
conceptualizations differ at a sub level where English has selected FIRE AND FLUID
metaphors, Chinese uses FIRE and GAS for the same purpose (capitals and quotation
marks in original) (p.1). The two languages, according to Yu share the same metonymic
pattern which is that they talk express about these two emotions in terms of the
physiological effects, yet they differ in that Chinese uses more body parts than English
when conceptualizing happiness and anger.
Comment [h1]: How is this paragraph relevant
to the discussion at hand?
Comment [h2]: What is meant by central and
sub-level? Explain, please.
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A comparative linguistic examination of anger and happiness in both English and Arabic
was undertaken by El-Haq and El-Sharif (2008) in which they discovered that the two
languages share some basic-level metaphors (p.1) such as orientational metaphors and
light metaphors. They found that the metaphor happiness is coldness is culturally specific
to Arabic and is not found in English.
Li (2010) found similarities between the metaphors used for happiness in English and
Chinese. The differences were that Chinese used more body parts in the metaphors for
happiness, while English refers to the whole body. She concludes that this is because
English people are more extroverted in character in contrast with introverted Chinese. So,
when the body is the container in English, the fluid of happiness that overflows is more
readily seen. (p. 476). It would seem a little rash to arrive at such a large generalisation,
but the point that metaphors reflect cultural differences is certainly valid.
Objectives
The objective of this study is to ascertain whether the conceptual groupings of happiness
which exist for English also apply to other languages, in this case Czech, through a
comparative analysis of the two languages. It aims at testing the cultural particularity of the
linguistic conceptualization of happiness in English.
Theoretical Framework
Contemporary study of metaphor supposes that concepts fundamental to human
understanding are universal and mapped on to metaphorical expressions in all languages.
For example Lakoff and Johnson (1980) conceptualized the idea of more as an upward
direction: More is up. Conceptual mapping is believed to give abstract notions a more
Comment [h3]: Please see previous comment.
Comment [h4]: Please provide examples.
Comment [h5]: Justification of the present
study, please elaborate.
Comment [h6]: This is the first mention of this
term. I suggest you introduce the concept earlier so
that the reader can understand what the goal of the
study is.
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concrete presence (Al-Haq & El-Sharif, 2008), for example the abstract concept anger is
understood in more concrete terms as heat, reflected in phrases such as she was boiling mad
in English.
The work of Lakoff (1980) and Kveceses Kvecses (1991) has had an enormous impact
on the study of metaphor, particularly on the study of how happiness and anger are
conceptualized. All three of the above mentioned studies use a conceptual organisation
based on their work and this is what will be used in the present study.
The expressions are categorized according to the type of metaphor they deploy. These
categories are based on the work of Lakoff (1980) and Kveceses Kvecses (1991) and are
orientational metaphors, light metaphors, container metaphors. The orientational metaphor
is usually conceptualized as happiness is up and the sense of being off the ground is also
related to happiness. This can be seen in English in phrases such as she was over the moon,
she was on cloud nine and so on. Happiness is also associated with light; her face beamed;
she was radiant with joy. The container metaphor is commonly used to describe the body as
a container of emotion and the emotion is often described as a liquid in English, for
example happiness welled up inside her.
Methodology
Methodological challenges
Using corpus- based what? methods? at first seems to be the most logical way to proceed
with metaphorical analysis as the orthographic word plays such an important role; in
corpus-based studies the word is the focal point around which observations are made
(Stefanowitsch, 2004). However many metaphorical mappings cannot be identified by
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particular words. For example the metaphor I am over the moon, which is used to describe a
state of extreme happiness does not include any words from the target domain. The
expression does not contain any linguistic clues to happiness and therefore would be
impossible to retrieve it automatically.
Stefanowitsch (2004) discusses the problems of the systematic characterization of linguistic
expression of mental organisation. If metaphors are collected from introspective data or
more or less systematically collected citations (p.138) there is no way of knowing
whether all metaphors have been exhaustively charted, quantifying results is problematic
and applying standards for cross linguistic comparison is difficult. However, when looking
for evidence of the existence of certain metaphors, using introspective methods is useful.
In their study of metaphorical mappings of anger and happiness in Arabic and English Al-
Haq and El-Sharif (2008) collected a set of metaphorical expressions from the work of
Lakoff (1980) and Kvecses (1991), dictionaries and literary works which they classified
into metaphorical groups. Then they regrouped the expressions into major and minor
categories which revealed shared cross-cultural mappings in the two languages. In his
analysis of anger and happiness in English and Chinese Yu used a similar methodology,
based on Lakoff and Johnsons (1980) categorization of happiness. By the same vein,
Xiuzhi Li (2010) compared Chinese and English idioms using the categories established by
Lakoff and Johnson (1980).
Theis present study uses introspective data to investigate the existence in Czech of
metaphorical structures which have been evidenced in English, which will provide evidence
Comment [h7]: It is not clear what is meant by
major and minor categories
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for or against large scale mappings rather than an exhaustive account of the linguistic
mappings in one language.
Data Collection Process
A list of expressions of happiness in English was drawn up. This was based on the study by
Xiuzhi Li (year) in which a comprehensive list of phrases was identified. This list was
presented to a native speaker of Czech who was instructed to give equivalent phrases for
each of the phrases in the list (see Appendix A). It was important that they the informant
did not simply give a literal translation, but looked for phrases which they would really use.
Despite the low number of results for processing, the study can be seen as a case study
which provides a basis for further investigation.
The expressions in the list given to the subjects informant were randomly ordered so as to
avoid that the subjects detected a pattern and tried to respond to it.
Findings and discussion
The results show that there are remarkable similarities between the two languages at basic-
level. Each metaphor group will be discussed in turn. The transcriptions are given first as
the original English followed by the Czech and then a gloss showing the literal translation
of the Czech back into English. Attention has been paid to the transcription of the lexical
items, as this is the focus of the study. For this reason grammatical inflections have not
been transcribed except in the case of the reflexive pronouns (ref.pron.) so that the reader
can more easily follow the transcription.
Comment [h8]: Same as comments 2 and 3.
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Orientational Metaphors
The expressions given in English to represent this conceptual mapping were
1. We had to cheer him up.
2. Hes been in high spirits all day.
3. Edward is not very cheerful; he needs a holiday to boost him up.
4. I feel elated at beating him.
5. The old woman was in the seventh heaven at meeting her long-lost son.
6. Mary was up in the air because John asked her to the party.
7. Hearing the news that he had passed the exam, he walked on air.
8. She was on cloud nine.
9. At present everything is going smoothly and I feel on top of the world.
10. They were riding high.
11. They were in the clouds.
12. I left the island with a light heart.

Likewise Czech has many expressions which use the same concept, such as:

1. Hes been in high spirits all day.
1 a. Byl v povzneen nlad cel den.
1 b. He-was-above the thing-mood-all-day

2. The old woman was in seventh heaven at meeting her long-lost son.
2 a. Star pan byla v sedmm nebi pi setkn se svm dvno ztracenm synem.
Comment [h9]: Highlight the metaphorical
expressions by using a different font style to guide
the readers attention to these forms.
Formatted: Font: Bold
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Formatted: Font: Bold
Formatted: Font: 12 pt, Bold, English (U.K.)
Formatted: Font: 12 pt, Bold, English (U.K.)
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Formatted: Font: 12 pt, Bold, English (U.K.)
Formatted: Font: 12 pt, Bold, English (U.K.)
Formatted: Font: 12 pt, Bold, English (U.K.)
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2 b. Old-woman-was-in-seventh-heaven-upon-meeting-ref.pron.-his/her-long ago-lost -
son.

3. Mary was up in the air because John asked her to the party.
3 a. Mary se vznela protoe ji John pozval na party.
3 b. Mary- ref.pron.-hovered-because-she-John-invited-to-party

4. Hearing the news that he passed the exam, he walked on air.
4 a. Slyel, e sloil zkouku a vznel se tstm
Heard-that-passed-exam-and-hovered-ref. pron.-happiness.
4 b. Heard-that-passed-exam-and-hovered-ref. pron.-happiness.
Slyel, e sloil zkouku a vznel se tstm

5. They were in the clouds.
5 a. Byli v oblacch.
5 b. They were in - clouds

6. I left the island with a light heart
6 a. Opoutla jsem ostrov s lehkm srdcem.
6 b. Left-I-island-with-light-heart.

The concept of happiness is up seems to be represented most strongly by happiness is being
off the ground in Czech. Words such as cloud and heaven are used in the same way as in
English however Czech uses the concept of hovering and being up above, which is not seen
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in these examples in English. The Czech conceptualization seems to be conceptualized in
relation to the ground rather than being in the world of the gods. Being off the ground or
floating, then seems to be the central conceptualization in Czech.

Light Metaphors

The following sentences were used to represent the conceptualization of happiness is light
in English:

13. Her face lit up when she received the letter from her boyfriend.
14. I left the island with a light heart.
15. His eyes gleamed with pleasure.
16. The child has brought sunshine into the old couple's life.
17. She brightened up seeing her lost child.
18. She was radiant with joy.

6. Her face lit up when she received the letter from her boyfriend.
6 a. Jej obliej se rozzil, kdy obdrela dopis od svho milho.
6 b. Her-face-ref. pron- shined-when- received-letter-from-her-boyfriend

7. His eyes gleamed with pleasure.
7 a. Jeho oi se leskly potenm.
7 b. His- eyes ref. pron.-gleamed- pleasure
Comment [h10]: Revise
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8. The child has brought sunshine into the old couples life.
8 a. Dte pineslo tst do ivota starho pru.
8 b. Child- brought happiness- into life old couple

9. She brightened up seeing her lost child.
9 a. Rozzila se pohledem na jeho ztracen dt .
9 b. Brighten up-ref.pron.-look-on-his-lost-child

10. She was radiant with joy.
10 a. Zila tstm.
10 b. Shined-happiness

Again, there are striking similarities in the use of light to describe happiness in Czech and
English. Perhaps the most interesting difference is that English uses the concept of
sunshine, whereas Czech uses the word tst which is the word for happiness. This
provides evidence that the concept happiness is light is applicable in both languages.

Container Metaphors
The following expressions were used in the questionnaire to represent the concept
happiness is fluid in a container:

19. Seeing his funny look, all of the students burst into laughter.
Comment [h11]: The translation equivalents for
expressions 8 and 10 are somehow different. Please
reconsider this statement.
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20. Joy welled up inside him.
21. The good news filled him with joy.
22. We were full of joy.
23. He brimmed over with happiness.

11. Seeing his funny look, all of the students burst into laughter.
11 a. Kdy vidli jak legran vypad, vypukli student
11 b. when-saw-how-funny-look-erupted-students-laugh.

12. Joy welled up inside him
12 a. Tryskalo z nj tst
12 b. spouted-from-him-happiness

13. The good news filled him with joy.
13 a. Dobr zprva ho naplnila tstm.
13 b. good-news-him-complete happiness

14. We were full of joy.
14 a. Byli jsme pln tst.
14 b. we were ref.pron. full- happiness

15. He brimmed over with happiness.
15 a. Petkal tstm.
15 b. He overflowed-happiness
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The concept of a container is apparent in Czech as it is in English. However, in English it is
possible to detect the idea that happiness is a liquid in expressions such as joy welled up
inside him, whereas this metaphor does not seem to be present in Czech. This is further
enunciated in English as it is possible to denote the body as a container which slowly fills
up; welled up; brimmed over, yet in Czech these expressions are translated with the idea of
complete fullness or of the emotion already bursting out. This distinction could come from
the fact that in Czech there is no continuous tense,tense; however it is still possible to
represent actions that are in process. Native speaker reactions suggest that the emotion is
not envisioned as something which gradually fills the body, but that it an instantaneous
action.

Conclusions
This short case study provides some evidence that there are similarities between Czech and
English in how they conceptualize happiness. At a basic level??, they share the same three
conceptual metaphors; happiness is up; happiness is light; happiness is a substance
contained within the body.
Regarding the orientational metaphor, Czech seems to favour the idea of hovering just
above the ground, which is different from English that conceptualizes happiness as being
further away from the earth. Despite this, the central metaphor seems to be the same similar
in both languages.
Czech represents happiness using light, just as English does. It was shown that English
uses sunlight as a metaphor, but in Czech this was simply translated as happiness. Further
Comment [h12]: You mean your informants
reaction?
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investigation might reveal if this is a feature of the metaphorical structure of Czech.
Concepts such as gleam, shine, and bright which are to do with reflected light are present in
both languages.
The container metaphor works in both languages, yet in this study no evidence was found
that the emotion happiness is conceptualized as a liquid. This particular conceptualization
may be particular to English, as AL-Haq & El-Sharif (2008) demonstrated that in Arabic
happiness is coldness. This brings to light the point that English should not be taken as the
default language against which all other are judged.
The information gathered here represents a preliminary study and cannot be generalized to
tendencies in Czech. As mentioned in the methodological section, it is difficult to know
using introspective methods whether a study is exhaustive or not as there may always be
expressions which have been left out because the informants didnt remember them. The
results here provide promising evidence that further studies could be undertaken which may
provide evidence for the universality of the conceptualization of happiness.
The data collected here are suggestive of a descriptive difference between the two
languages in that emotion is seen as a liquid which can slowly fill the body, whereas in
Czech it seems that the body fills up straightaway with the emotion.
Finally, it should be mentioned that this methodology will not account for metaphors that
exist in Czech but are not known in English. By asking the subjects informant to translate
English phrases in to their Czech equivalents the possibility for discovering metaphors
unique to Czech is eliminated. This is a strong argument for studying Czech (indeed any
Comment [h13]: I suggest you do a morpheme
by morpheme gloss of the Czech translation
equivalents. My guess is the effect you report is due
to aspectual differences between English and Czech.

ASPECT: Aspect is a grammatical category
associated with verbs that expresses a temporal
view of the event or state expressed by the verb.
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language) in its own right so that the hegemonic dominance of English might also be
challenged.


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Appendix A
The following questionnaire was used to collect the data which were used in this study.

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Universidad Autnoma del Estado de Mxico
Facultad de Lenguas

Data collection for investigation into cross-cultural metaphors

The objective of this study is to obtain cross-cultural information about linguistic metaphors of
happiness.
Thank you for agreeing to participate.

INSTRUCTIONS:
Please give an equivalent phrase in Czech for each of the following phrases.
The objective is to find phrases in Czech which express the same degree of emotion; therefore
literal (word-for-word) translation is not necessary.
Please do not use any translation software.
Where more than one translation may be possible, please indicate all possibilities. Where no
translation is possible, please write no translation.

1. Her face lit up when she received the letter from her boyfriend.


2. Hes been in high spirits all day.


3. The old woman was in the seventh heaven at meeting her long-lost son.


4. Mary was up in the air because John asked her to the party.


5. I left the island with a light heart


6. Hearing the news that he had passed the exam, he walked on air.


7. She was on cloud nine (seven).


8. She was radiant with joy.


9. At present everything is going smoothly and I feel on top of the world.


10. They were riding high.


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11. They were in the clouds.


12. The child has brought sunshine into the old couple's life.


13. Edward is not very cheerful; he needs a holiday to boost him up.


14. I feel elated at beating him.


15. His eyes gleamed with pleasure.


16. Seeing his funny look, all of the students burst into laughter.


17. Joy welled up inside him.


18. The good news filled him with joy.


19. We were full of joy.


20. He brimmed over with happiness.


21. His heart is overflowing with joy.


22. She brightened up seeing his lost child.



This space is for you to add any comments or observations you might have:


Where there any comments?




Thank you for your participation

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References
Al-Haq, F. & El-Sharif, A. (2008). A comparative study for the metaphors in use in
happiness and anger in English and Arabic. In US-China foreign language. 6 (11) 1
19.
Coleman, L. & Kay, P. (1981) Prototype semantics: The English word lie. In Language. 57
(1) 26 44.
Johnson, M. (1987) The body in the mind: The bodily basis of reason and imagination.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
KvecesesKvecses, Z. (1991) Happiness: A definitional effort. In Metaphor and symbolic
activity. 6 29 - 46.
Li, X. (2010). A comparative analysis of English and Chinese idioms from the
perspective of conceptual metaphor of happiness. In Journal of Language
teaching and research. 1 (4) 473 476.
Lakoff, G. & Johnson, M. (1980) Metaphors we live by. Chicago: University of Chicago
Press.
Stefanowitsch, A. (2004) Happiness in English and German: A metaphorical-pattern
analysis. In Michel Achard and Suzanne Kemmer (eds.), Language, Culture, and
Mind. Stanford: CSLI.
Yu, N. (1995). MetphoricalMetaphorical expressions. In Metaphor and symbolic activity 10
(2) 59 92.