Каталог статей из сборников научных конференций и научных журналов- Typological Analysis of Emotion Metaphors in Belarusian and English

Научный мультидисциплинарный журнал
Paradigmata poznání. - 2016. - № 1

Typological Analysis of Emotion Metaphors in Belarusian and English

O. Shymanskaya, candidate of philological sciences, associate professor

Belarusian State University,

Minsk, Belarus


The sphere of emotion is conceptualized through similar images in different cultures which lets us talk about emotion metaphors as a cognitive-semantic universal. While our languages are very different, people of different nations and cultures tend to compare the same things and notions to express similar ideas [6; 7].

Studying typological characteristics of emotion metaphors helps to reveal national characteristics woven into the language. The regularity and strength of emotional connotation implemented into metaphorical structures of a language serves an indicator of qualities and feelings important for this nation [5]. At the same time, semantic lacunes usually appear to reveal less valued qualities or sometimes taboos.

The aim of the research is to define typologically common and specific features of metaphorical representation of emotion in the Belarusian and English languages (on the basis of nouns). The research is based on typological and contrastive methods and includes methods of semantic universals and semantic oppositions suggested by Russian linguists [1; 2], component and definitional analysis methods, methods of step identification and data processing, and modes of classification.

Metaphorical representation of emotion is implemented by conventional and novel metaphors which name different phenomena of human psychology (mental processes, mental conditions, and personality traits) and also describe their duration, intensity, quality, and orientation features. The nominative or descriptive function of the metaphors is defined by their semantic structure as well as by the micro context (word combination) they are used in.

The research shows that there are more descriptive metaphors than nominative ones. It does not mean that our languages are deficient in nouns naming mental and emotional phenomena, moreover, most today’s non-figurative namings are usually metaphorically motivated (e.g. emotion is interpreted in relation to motion (compare to Latin ēmoveo, ēmōtum), абурэнне ‘anger’ – in relation to бура ‘storm, gale’). While there is a limited number of words that represent human psychology sphere not metaphorically, the reservoir of metaphorical nominations is by far larger [4, p.82]. One more point is that we need to describe and evaluate emotions much more that just to name them. That explains the complexity and variation of the metaphorical field of emotion.

Emotion metaphors can name or (and) describe mental processes (чарвяк цікаўнасці, лёт дум, прыліў пяшчоты, foliage of reveries, shades of opinion, barrage of thoughts), mental conditions (пахмурасць і незадаволенасць, творчае кіпенне, creative juices, glow of pride, hunger for woman), and personality traits (пачуццёвая мяккасць, душа з чарвяточынай, sobriety of thought, moral timbre). Social level of emotions reflects activity, behaviour and relations, which allows us to include the mentioned aspects into emotional sphere [3, p.287]: беспрынцыповая мімікрыя, выкінуць нумар, to end affair without theatricals, intellectual fireworks, a flurry of activity.

Specific features of Belarusian and English metaphors are revealed on different levels – word structure, semantics, connotations, and context use. In Belarusian, there are many phonetic and morpheme variants of metaphors while in English derivatives of nouns, adjectives and verbs are more widely used. As far as in English substantivation occurs easier (through suffixation), it explains the large number of metaphors corresponding to projections ‘animal → personality trait’ and ‘physical impact → psychological impact’: sheepishness, worminess, foxiness, rattiness, jab, jolt, knock, lash.

In English, judging by definitions and context, about 56% of metaphors denoting intense emotions possess negative connotation. It is evinced in definitions which reflect the way metaphors are interpreted by informants. We find words like excessive and insincere quite often, as well as combinations with words anger, rage, controversy, abuse, etc. Quite the contrary, the Belarusian language culture metaphors denoting intense emotions do not necessarily acquire negative connotation: прыліў злосці, наплыў радасці, разліў пяшчоты, усплёск эмоцый, хваля абурэння, сэрца захліснула пяшчотная хваля, a blaze of publicity, a firestorm of controversy, a fit of jealous rage, a tide of euphoria, a surge of anger, a torrent of abuse, a flood of complaints, a gush of praise.

In descriptive function, emotion metaphors very often appear in genitive structures (genitive case in Belarusian and an of-phrase in English). Such metaphors characterize some mental condition or process: жар кахання, усплёск эмоцый, вуж рэўнасці, патайнікі душы, a flare of anger, a tide of enthusiasm, a whirlwind of emotions, a stab of envy. When we compare broader contexts, we realize a typological difference in metaphorical representation of emotion in English and Belarusian. In Belarusian we often come across metaphors with components душа, сэрца ‘heart, soul’, where a feeling or emotion is perceived as a part of a person’s inner world and is the focus of attention: Замілаванасць сціснула сэрца абцугамі. Агонь нянавісці рваў сэрца на кавалкі. Боль і горыч ахапілі сэрца. Мінор у душы. English conventional metaphors denoting feelings or emotions construe with words heart and soul quite rare. The typical structure for English metaphor of such type is ‘to feel a [metaphor] of [emotion]’, where a feeling or emotion is an object of a person’s experience while the person is the focus of attention: She felt a prick of resentment. She felt a flare of anger within her. He had killed her in a fit of jealous rage.

Comparison of emotion metaphors in Belarusian and English helps to reveal not only regularities in modeling of human psychology and specific features of contextual actualization of metaphorical meanings, but also exposes cases when words with equivalent primary meanings have different metaphorical meanings: мяккі тэмбр душы – one’s moral timbre, узнімаць са дна душы ўспаміны – his views have bottom. Likewise, words with different primary meanings may have equivalent metaphorical ones: адкінуць шалупінне нагавораў – their proposals were too much chaff, нейтралізаваць прычэпкі вучня – to take potshots at critics, гаварыць з запалам – he’s gone off the boil.

In conclusion it has to be said that for Belarusian, it is common to approve of greater intimacy between interlocutors and to identify a feeling or emotion with a person. English metaphors tend to reveal the tendency to disapprove of excessive expression of feelings and to distance emotional experience.

Community of metaphorical representation of emotion in Belarusian and English is rooted in the semantic and cognitive universals and becomes apparent through equivalence of metaphors with equivalent primary (non-metaphorical) meanings. Specific features in modeling human psychology in both languages are determined by linguistic and extra-linguistic factors.


1. Апресян В.Ю. Метафора в семантическом представлении эмоций // Вопросы языкознания. Науч. журнал института языкознания РАН. –Москва: Наука, 1993. – № 3. – С. 27–35.

2. Гак В.Г. Метафора: универсальное и специфическое // Метафора в языке и тексте. Коллективная монография. Oтв. ред. В.Н. Телия. – Москва: Наука, 1988. – С. 11–26.

3. Общая психология. Учебник. Под ред. Р.Х. Тугушева, Е.И. Гарбера. – Москва: ЭСМО, 2006.

4. Старычонак В.Д. Метафара ў беларускай мове: на матэрыяле субстантываў. – Мінск: БДПУ, 2007.

5. Шыманская, В.Ю. Менталітэт беларусаў у люстэрку метафар / В.Ю. Шыманская // “Этналогія: генезіс традыцыйнага” : матэр. Міжнар. навук. канф., Мінск, 25–26 красавіка 2014 г. / Бел. дзярж. нац.-тэхн. ун-т; рэдкал.: Н.П. Мартысюк (адк. рэд.), М.В. Макарыч. – Мінск : БНТУ, 2015. – С.101 – 103.

6. Kövecses, Z. Metaphor and Emotion: Language, Culture, and Body in Human Feeling. – Cambridge University Press, 2000.

7. Lakoff G., and M. Johnson. Metaphors we live by. – University of Chicago Press, 2003.

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