Metonymic Extensions of the Body Part ‘Head’ in Mental and Social Domains

in Embodiment in Cross-Linguistic Studies

Abstract

This chapter focuses on cross-linguistic patterning of metonymies and metonymic-metaphoric chains involved in mapping from the body part ‘head’ onto mental and social activity domains which particularly favor such conceptualizations due to high expressiveness of figurative “embodied” language. It will be demonstrated that certain metonymies are cross-linguistically very common, e.g. HEAD FOR PERSON, HEAD FOR RULER/IMPORTANT PERSON, HEAD FOR REASON/INTELLIGENCE, while others are encountered only in specific cultural settings, e. g. HEAD FOR A KIN, HEAD FOR LANGUAGE. In addition, many conceptualizations are based on a common general schema which is modified in a culture-specific way. In general terms, the findings contribute to research on metonymy and shed light on the interplay of embodiment, cognitive universals and specific cultural models.

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