Idioms have always attracted attention of linguists, although they were not given enough recognition in the past. The new trends in English lexical studies, however, have thrown a completely different light on these multi-word units with more or less unpredictable meanings.
Idioms are very common in languages, and identical idioms can be found in different languages, including English and Ukrainian. Lakoff and Johnson’s seminal work Metaphors We Live By (1980) was a groundbreaking work in the field of cognitive linguistics. Their study on, and re-definition of, the use of metaphors in language changed our understanding of language. They claimed that language is formed and understood by the way people cognitively conceptualise their experiences of the world around them. Zoltán Kövecses is one of the leading scholars on the topic of conceptual metaphors today, and his Metaphor: A Practical Introduction (2010) is one of the most comprehensive introductions to the topic of metaphor and thought.
The fields of metaphor and metonymy seem especially appropriate when dealing with idioms, since idioms are particularly inclined to use various forms of imagery in their linguistic structures. This research is to inspire further studies into the field of cognitive and conceptual understanding of idioms.
The topicality of this research consists in the analyzing the similarities and differences of the cognitive structures of Ukrainian and English idioms with core component “????” I “HAND” and exploring the cognitive mechanisms that motivate their meaning.
The object of the study is Ukrainian and English idioms with core component “????” I “HAND”.
The subject of the study is the differences between Ukrainian and English idioms with core component “????” I “HAND” from cognitive point of view and their distinctive features.
The aim of the research is to reveal and show metaphorical and metonymical structures which might explain the motivated meanings of the pairs of idioms and their level of equivalence.
The research objectives include the following:
1) to analyse the theoretical basis of cognitive approach to idiom analysis and its methods;
2) to select idioms with core component “????” I “HAND” in Ukrainian and English;
3) to figure out cognitive links which motivate the figurative meaning of the idioms;
4) to carry out analysis of cognitive mechanisms of functioning of idioms with core component “????” I “HAND” in Ukrainian and English.
The following research methods have been applied:
means of cognitive approach;
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.2
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 metaphor and conceptual metaphor 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 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)” 6. Metaphors are conceptual ideas in our minds, and they underlie the linguistic expressions that we use when talking. In his discussion on idioms, Kövecses 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”7. 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 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” 6. 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 6. 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 8.
?ognitive linguistics divides metaphors into two: conceptual metaphors and image metaphors 9. 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 claims 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 3. Chen and Lai 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 4 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 3 .
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 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 and what it contains 11. 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 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)9.
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 individual words and expressions. Contrastive phraseology reveals that when comparing idioms of two different languages, two types of equivalents are recognized – phraseological or