“QI” Metaphors and Chinese Classical Concept: Analysis on the Basis of Conceptual Integration Theory

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Siqi Yao


The purpose of this article is to study and analyze figurative meaning of “QI” in mandarin Chinese when the word “QI” is used as a metaphor. It also explains the metaphorical process of "QI" according to the theory of cognitive linguistics on the subject about conceptual integration. The results showed that a total of 85 words that contain the term “QI” as a metaphor were found. The metaphorical meaning of the word “QI” in Chinese could be separated into 3 main meanings, including the meaning about life energy, about characteristics of human beings and definition that particularly specified destiny. Moreover, when considering metaphorical process of the word “QI”, it can be seen that metaphorical process of the term "QI" does not only contains a conceptual mapping from the source domain to the target domain. It also has a conceptual projection among multiple mental spaces. These mental spaces of Chinese language users’ are contructed which based on both their own cognitve experiences and socio-cultural background, and forms a conceptual integration process that is consistent with interpretation of contextual cognition. In so doing, it does not only help people to further understand the cognitive process of Chinese people’s thinking activities, but it also enables people to profoundly realize their understanding about meaning contruction process, especially metaphorical terms such as “QI” that completely covers Chinese philosophy details and traditional Chinese medicine which plays an indispensable role in the inheritance of traditional Chinese culture and historical development of Chinese civilization for five thousand years. Therefore, metaphorical meaning cognition for the word “QI” have to merge with Chinese specific social background knowledge, diverse historical and cultural elements as well as the unique thinking mode and national concept of the Chinese people. In this way, the formation for metaphorical cognitive mechanism related to the term “QI” and its thinking process of metaphorical meaning construction can be analyzed and demostrated more accurately and thoroughly.


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