Cultural Influence on the Expression of Cathartic Conceptualization in English and Spanish: A Corpus-Based Analysis

Document Type: Research Paper

Author

Pablo de Olavide University, Spain

Abstract

This paper investigates the conceptualization of emotional release from a cognitive linguistics perspective (Cognitive Metaphor Theory). The metaphor weeping is a means of liberating contained emotions is grounded in universal embodied cognition and is reflected in linguistic expressions in English and Spanish. Lexicalization patterns which encapsulate this conceptualization include the caused-motion construction, the resultative construction, and the reaction object construction (Goldberg, 1995; Levin, 1993). These patterns are common in English but atypical or non-existent in Spanish and other Romance languages. Results from a corpus analysis, however, reveal that syntactic manifestations of this metaphor are abundant in Spanish, but rare in English. I argue that specific socio-cultural rules are imposed on universal human schemas and particular linguistic availability in this specific domain. In line with recent research on the culture-language interface (Kövecses, 2005; Sharifian, 2011; Wierzbicka, 1999, 2002) this article attempts to show how cultural filters restrain English speakers from using typologically ‘preferred’ constructions in this specific emotional domain.

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