1. Rationale of the study

1.1. Social relationships are a great concern of a number of researchers due to their human and scientific values. Friendship, love and relationships are considered the most fundamental, massive and influencial relationships in social life of the human beings [134, p.5].  The study on social relationships manifested in language would be a contribution to the awareness and knowledge of basic human relations of the human beings. 


1.2. Idioms belong to lexical aspects of each language. As a means to enable people to show their awareness, behaviours as well as social, psychological and physical development process vividly and profoundly, idioms are “a treasure of typical and diverse cultural features and sediments of a nation” [12, p.142].  Idioms are believed to realize national cultural views of the native people in the conceptual process of social relationships. The diversity of semantics of the idioms denoting social relationship encourages me to do this research. 

1.3. As a discipline of Cognitive Science, Cognitive Linguistics focus on the study of natural language of the human beings as a means of organizing, processing and tranferring information.  Even though a number of researches have been conducted on idioms from the cognitive approach,  the investigation into semantic and cultural features of idioms denoting social relationships has not been sufficiently concerned. Especially, there have not been any studies on Vietnamese and English idioms denoting social relationships from the cognitive perspectives, which motivates me to conduct this dissertation. 

 1.4. One of the cognitive linguistic applications of metaphors is the study on idioms. Idioms are the products of human conceptual systems and they are not merely linguistic phemomena. [111, p. 231]. Idioms are under investigation because they are challenging issues for the foreign language teaching and learning. The way to use idioms appropriately in each context is an obstacle for learners due to the fact that the meaning of an idiom is different from the sum of literal meanings of its components and idioms date back the long tradition of each nation. This dissertation is expected to illustrate the practicality and application of metaphor theory. As a result, there would

be additional supplementary materials for teachers, students as well as researchers who are interested in educational and training activities in Vietnam. 

 1.5. With critical selections and thorough investigation into cognitive linguistics, idioms and metaphors, especially the views of cognitive semantics about human-related conceptual aspects, this dissertation would be a great contribution to the theoretical background, partially enhancing the studies from the perspectives of cognitive linguistics. 

 From all the above theoretical and practical implications, we have conducted the dissertation entiled A study on idioms denoting social relationships in Vietnamese and English from the perspectives of cognitive linguistics. 

2. Research aims and objectives

2.1. Aims

 The dissertation aims at clarifying semantic features, cognitive basis and cultural characteristics of conceptual metaphors denoting social relationships. At the same time, the dissertation focuses on the similarities and differences of conceptual metaphors denoting social relationships in Vietnamese and English idioms from the perspectives of cognitive linguistics. 

 2.2. Objectives

(i). To investigate and systematize, analyze and synthesize theoretical background of the thesis. 

(ii). To investigate and analyze semantic features, cognitive basis, cultural characteristics of conceptual metaphors denoting social relationships in Vietnamese and English idioms.

(iii). To analyze, synthesize and explain the similarities and differences in conceptualization of the three social relationships. 

3. Research methods

 The research methods applied in the research are principally descriptive and constrastive analysis. Especially, the dissertation is conducted on the linguistic statistics, component semantic analysis, discourse analysis, descriptive and analytic, contrastive analysis. In addition, additional interdisciplinary methods and instruments are also taken. 

 4. Research subjects and material scope 

4.1. Research subject

 The dissertation focuses on semantic features, cognition basis and cultural characteristics of conceptual metaphors denoting social relationships in Vietnamese and English idioms. 

4.2. Material scope

(i) Scientific works (books, textbooks, journals, dissertations, thesis) related to the dissertation

 (ii). Two linguistic corpuses: BNC and COCA 

 (iii) Vietnamese and English dictionaries

 (iv) Internet websites 

5. New contributions of the dissertation

 Firstly, the analysis of semantic features, cognitive basis and cultural characteristics of conceptual metaphors denoting social relationships in Vietnamese and English idioms has provided a profound and convincing explanation to manifest the viewpoints of the native speakers more logically, vividly and clearly. 

Secondly, the systematic contrastive analysis of the language and cultures of the two communities has demonstrated the similarities and differences in the conceptualization of the social relationships in Vietnamese and English idioms. 

 Thirdly, the dissertation would be a contribution to the study of idioms from the perspectives of cognitive linguistics. 

6. Design of the dissertation

The dissertation is developed into three chapters, excluding the Introduction, Conclusion, Bibliography, and Index:

Chapter 1:  Literature review and theoretical background 

Chapter 2:  Semantic features of conceptual metaphors denoting social relationships in Vietnamese and English idioms 

Chapter 3:  Cognitive basis and cultural characteristics of conceptual metaphors of social relationships in Vietnamese and English idioms 

 

Chapter 1 LITERATURE REVIEW 

AND THEORETICAL BACKGROUND  

1.1. Introduction 

1.2. An overview of previous studies

1.2.1. Previous studies of idioms in English 

Idioms have been investigated from various perspectives depending on the prevailing views in linguistics at a specific time. The approaches taken by linguists can be roughly divided into five categories that reflect different lines of thinking in linguistics at various times. 

(i) Structure and variations of idioms (from 1960 to early 1970s)

Even though the meaning and collocation of idioms were taken into consideration,  a great majority of the studies conducted during this period by Uriel Weinreich [154], Makkai [121] Newmeyer [124], Fernando [79] focused on the structure and construction of idioms. 

(ii) Processing and storing of idioms (late 1970s-1980s)

Nippold and Martin [125], Nippold and Rudzinski [126], Bobrow and Bell [65], Ortony [127], Swinney and Cutler [148], Gibbs [83] stated that idioms are processed more quickly than a separate string of words. This fact partially confirms that idioms are treated as a fixed expression, processed as an independent word and figurative meaning is considered the most important . 

(iii) Metaphoricity of idioms (1985 up to present)

Gibbs [83, p.471] was the pioneer to study idioms and their metaphoricity from various perspectives. Up to present, metaphoricity of idioms has been widely accepted and considered as one of the most typical features of idioms. 

(iv) Teaching and learning idioms (late 1980s up to present)

A majority of research on idioms have been put in the EFL teaching and learning relationships. There have been controversaries on the necessity of teaching idioms and what idioms should be selected to teach. Idioms were considered unteachable by several researchers because they lack common principles. [142]. 

 (v) Idioms within the wider perspective of idiomatic language and the functions of idioms (1990s)

Studies conducted by Strässler [146], Fernando [79] show that idioms are popular in daily language and commonly used for a variety of purposes.  In corpus-based study on English fixed expressions by Rosamund Moon [123], a wider definition of idioms were proposed. 

Approaches to idioms in English have changed considerably and different definitions of idioms have been proposed at specific times. 

1.2.2. Previous studies of idioms in Vietnamese

 As an essential component of the lexicology of each language, Vietnamese idioms have been studied systematically. 

 Hoàng Văn Hành [12] confirms the role of this linguistic-cultural unit in Vietnamese lexicology. Idioms are considered as “a combination of fixed expressions with steady morphology and complete and figurative in meaning” and “ idioms are one of the first criteria to recognize its nation” [12]. Dictionaries of idioms [55], [26], [25] carefully compiled from reliable and plentiful resources have provided useful references for researchers, teachers and students.

Studies by Nguyễn Công Đức [8], Trần Thị Hồng Hạnh [13], [14] investigated the morphology and semantics of idioms and the profound relationships between idioms and metaphors. However,  these studies only focused on morphology of idioms. 

In Vietnam, contrastive analysis of idioms has been given considerable attention. Doctoral dissertations by Phan Văn Quế [36] Ngô Minh Thủy [40], Đặng Nguyên Giang [9] mentioned the similarities and differences of idioms in Vietnamese and other languages such as English, French and Japanese. 

Recent studies have been conducted on idioms from the perspectives of Cognitive linguistics, especially the relationship between metaphor and idioms. The research subject in Hữu Đạt [7] was cognition of space and time in Vietnamese idioms and proverbs. The concern in Phan Thế Hưng [18], Trần Thị Phương Lý [27] was conceptual metaphor, a fundamental in cognitive semantics.

Several scientific works have done contrastive analysis of idioms in different languages from the perspectives of cognitive linguistics, in which the most remarkable are Nguyễn Ngọc Vũ [54], Trịnh Thị Thanh Huệ [17], Huỳnh Ngọc Mai Kha [19], Ly Lan [22], Trần Bá Tiến [47], Vi Trường Phúc [35]. 

These studies have investigated and manifested the semantic features, cultural characteristics as well as cognition background of idioms.   

Up to present, there have not been any profound researches into the idioms denoting social relationships in Vietnamese and English from the perspectives of cognitive linguistics. 

1.3. Theoretical background of the study

1.3.1. General introduction of cognitive linguistics

 Studies by Lakoff & Johnson [113], Lakoff [114, 116], Kövecses [109, 110, 111] are considered to lay the foundation and motivate the approach of cognitive linguistics. Lý Toàn Thắng [37] và Trần Văn Cơ [5, 6] are among the pioneers to introduce cognitive linguistics in Vietnam. 

 1.3.1.1. Experience and embodiment

 According to Lakoff & Johnson [113], knowledge of the world is obtained from the interaction between the human body and the reality and then evaluated through practical experiences. 

1.3.1.2. Concept and conceptualization

 The most fundamental issue of cognitive linguistics is concept. According to Trần Văn Cơ, a concept comprises three elements: a notion, emotion/ figure and culture [6, p.93].

 Lý Toàn Thắng [38] states that the conceptualization of the world results in different world pictures. A language reflects the way its nation conceptualizes the world. As a consequence, the world picture is characterized by its nation.

1.3.1.3. Category and categorization

 According to Trần Văn Cơ [5], categorization combines similar units or units of similar features to make greater categories. 

  1.3.1.4. Prototype

 In Rosch [137], things are categorized through prototype. Prototype is considered an abstract mental representation, with a combination of characteristics or typical features of a category. 

1.3.1.5. Cognitive model 

 Cognitive model is a non linguistic model of concepts. Each cognitive model is the generalization of established experiences. Once idealized, cognitive model does not resemble the reality but depends on the explanation of the human being. Cognitive model is knowledge basis associated with the understanding of a specific concept, including concepts and interrelationships of the concepts. [77, p.13].

1.3.2. Principles and theories of cognitive semantics

 1.3.2.1. Principles of cognitive semantics 

 Evans, V et al [77] summarized four principles of cognitive semantics: (a) Conceptual structure is embodied ; (b). Semantic structure is conceptual structure; (c). Meaning representation is encyclopaedic; (d). Meaning construction is conceptualization. 

 1.3.2.2. Theories of cognitive semantics

 (a). Image schema theory

 Johnson [102] states that one way to manifest embodied experiences at cognitive level is on the image schemas theory.  

 (b). Idealized cognitive models

 Lakoff [116] assumes that categorization involves idealized cognitive models (ICMs). These are relatively stable mental representations which illustrate theories about the world. 

 (c). Conceptual metaphor theory

 Lakoff & Johnson [113] affirms that thought itself is naturally metaphoric. Cognitive structure is organized through cross-domain mappings and corresponding linguistic representations.  

 (d). Conceptual metonym 

 According to Lakoff & Turner [115], mechanism of metonymy enables one entity represent another because both of the concepts exist in the same domain.  

1.3.3. Metaphor

1.3.3.1. Metaphor in traditional linguistics

 Metaphor is considered as tranferring the name on the implicit comparison of the two similar items. Kövecses [98] summarize the characteristics of metaphors in traditional linguistics: Firstly, metaphors are figurative words. Secondly, metaphors belong to language, not a cognitive phenomenon. Thirdly, the conceptual basis is on the similarities.  

1.3.3.2. Metaphor in cognitive linguistics

 The focus of metaphor is not in language at all, but in the way we conceptualize one mental domain in terms of another. Metaphor is defined as “understanding one domain in terms of another” [111]. Two domains involved in the conceptual metaphors are named source domain and target domain. Source domains

are more material and concrete (a journey, war, home) whereas target domains are more general and abstract (friendship, love, marriage).  

 According to Lakoff & Johnson [113], it is essential to differentiate metaphors and metaphoric expressions. Metaphors mean cross-domain mappings in conceptual system. Metaphoric expressions refer to surface linguistic expressions like words, phrases, sentences of those cross-domain mappings.  

1.3.4. Idioms denoting social relationships

1.3.4.1. Idioms

 Although there still exist controversaries on the definitions, we have assumed three widely accepted characteristics of idioms for the the study: (1) in terms of morphology, an idiom is a combination of words, (2) in term of structure, an idiom is fixed, (3) in terms of semantics, an idiom bears the non-literal/ figurative meaning, not the sum of componential meaning. 

1.3.4.2. Social relationships

 A variety of complex social relationships can be classified into two major types: power relation and interpersonal relation [21, p.199]. A social relationship is coded in language as a relationship of power and solidarity [66], voluntary and intimacy [151, p.95]. Apart from blood relationship, friendship, love and marriage are the most fundamental and influential relationship in people’s life.  

 We assume that all three social relationships within the scope of this dissertation (friendship, love, marriage) are all interpersonal, voluntary and intimate relationship. In addition, these interpersonal relationships are closedly interrelated to each other: friendship functions as the basis of love, love is considered to be the foundation of marriage. 

 1.3.4.3. Idioms denoting social relationships

 Among 872 Vietnamese and English idioms denoting conceptual metaphors of three social relationships, the number of friendship idioms accounts for a small percentage of 15.6% with 136 occurrences. However, Vietnamese and English idioms denoting conceptual metaphors of love rank the highest (419 idioms, accounting for 48.05%). Out of 317 idioms relating to conceptual metaphors of marriage, the number of Vietnamese idioms (223 occurrences) is more dominant than that of English (94 occurrences). 

1.4. Summary of chapter 1

 The literature review of Vietnamese and English idioms has shown a long and varied development history with the focus on different aspects of idioms. In the developmental flow of cognitive linguistics, a great number of researches have investigated the relationship between idioms and conceptual metaphors as idioms are the most significant and outstanding realizations of cognitive basis, mental, cultural and social life of the native speakers. However, up to present, there have been no studies on idioms denoting conceptual metaphors of social relationships in Vietnamese and English. 

 Although there still exist different approaches and controversaries about the idioms, the idea assumed in this dissertation is that idioms are a fixed expression; the meaning of idioms is not the sum of meaning of components, and non-literal (figurative) meanings are typical of idioms. 

 Studies on social relationship demonstrates the typical features of each nation in its viewpoint and thought as well as the role of culture. Theoretical background of this dissertation is cognitive semantics, on which, analysis and explanation of similarities and differences of Vietnamese and English idioms denoting social relationships are proposed. 

Chapter 2 SEMANTIC FEATURES OF CONCEPTUAL METAPHORS DENOTING  SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS IN VIETNAMESE AND ENGLISH IDIOMS  

2.1. Introduction

The classification and analysis of conceptual metaphors denoting social relationships (friendship, love, marriage) in Vietnamese and English idioms are conducted on the six metaphor systems proposed by Kövecses [107].  

 2.2. Conceptual metaphors of friendship

2.2.1. Metaphors of communication

Among 136 idioms denoting conceptual metaphors of communication, metaphor FRIENDSHIP IS SHARING accounts for the highest percentage with 35 occurrences of idioms. A number of Vietnamese idioms contain the image of concrete, specific objects and popular in human life such as a divided flea, sharing of rice and clothes (con chấy cắn đôi, nhường cơm sẻ áo)

 [V-44]. Minh Hằng và cô bạn con chấy cắn đôi Hoàng Thùy Linh .(Minh Hằng and her friend 'divided flea” Hoàng Thùy Linh)

 Concepts of friendship utilize metaphor of communication, human being and experiences. What makes friendship different from other relationship is the essence of the experience to be shared, the way to share and the intimacy of these sharings.  

2.2.2. Metaphor of emotions

Metaphors of this system are related to the intimacy. Such elements as temperature (fire), a magic or a force are not manifested in this system.

Experiences of real space result in the metaphor FRIENDSHIP IS INTIMACY. The closeness between two friends are illustrated in vivid, specific language expressions which are associated with a human body part. 

[V-24]. Tôi muốn tự mình lái xe đưa người bạn chí cốt tìm một nơi thanh vắng để tâm tình. ( I want to drive my best friend to a quiet place for a talk)

 2.2.3. Metaphors of states

The number of idioms denoting friendship in term of conceptual metaphors of bonds ranks the highest with 10 occurrences. The second highest are economic exchange, possession and unity.  

Considered as the voluntary relationship, friendship is also conceptualized in terms of material bonds between two friends.  

  [V-25]. Họ chẳng phải là anh em ruột, là bạn nối khố của Tám Sang đó sao? (They are siblings and close friends of Tam Sang, aren’t they?)

 In this system, friendship is conceptualized on the container of the deepest  experience, stable state, long-life relationship and benefit interaction.   

2.2.4. Metaphor s of event structure

 In this system, the number of English idioms four-fold that of Vietnamese with 19 and 5 idioms corresponsively, especially conceptual metaphors of a journey.  

[A-58]. So, ten years from now, when we're on the same boat, and she can't get over.

Friendship is also conceptualized as a war or a game. The number of idiom occurrences is limited, we thus exlude them and do not assume them to be prototype of friendship. 

2.2.5. Metaphors of complex objects

 The common thing shared by conceptual metaphors of this system is that all source domains are complex objects. Metaphors of a building are involved in the structure and stability, metaphors of a machine are related to the working operation and metaphors of living organisms are concerned with the developmental aspect of friendship. Among 19 idioms of this group, conceptual metaphors of living organisms account for the highest number with 10 idioms. 

 [A-91]. So why do celebrities find best friends in other celebrities? Birds of a feather  flock together.

 2.2.6. Metaphors of positive/ negative judgement

Friendship is regarded as a positive relationship, a valuable commodity, a desire which is mapped from the conceptual metaphors of valuable commodity. Of all the idioms investigated, there are 12 idioms relating to this conceptual metaphor.  

[A-177]. So he had cold feet about his friends, but they wouldn't get the better of him. 

2.2.7. Semantic features of conceptual metaphors of friendship

All the friendship metaphors originate from 6 major metaphor systems. Communication, which is understood as the sharing of objects between friends is the most typical feature of friendship metaphors. The nature of the friendship is the

closeness on the voluntary and selective basis. Elements relating to such lack of control as force, magic are not typical in this relationship. Friendship is conceptualized as a special case of state metaphor: stability (a possession), a steady relationship (a bond) and benefit interaction (economic exchange). In addition, friendship is also partially conceptualized in terms of event metaphor. In complex metaphor, friendship is typical of a variety of mappings at general level. Metaphors of this system are based on the structure and typicality of complex objects. 

2.3. Conceptual metaphors of love

 Love seems to be a universal and popular phenomenon in all cultures [151].  In the research, there are 419 English and Vietnamese idioms denoting love metaphors, accounting for 48.05%. 

2.3.1. Metaphor s of communication

 Among 65 idioms of this system (accounting for 15.5% of love metaphors), English idioms far outnumber the Vietnamese ones. Idioms denoting conceptual metaphor LOVE IS A CONTAINER  account for the highest percentage (51 idioms, accounting for 78.46%). 

 The nature of love includes belief, attitudes, desires, possession feelings, (possession of lover), behaviours (sexual relation), physical reactions (an increase of heart beat), etc. Containers with their shapes, sizes and volumes, etc lay the foundations for mapping from the source domain of container to the target domain of love. All of these elements happen in a specific container  like in example [A-248]. 

 [A-248]. "love will find a way" whirling about in her poor love-starved heart

  2.3.2. Metaphors of emotions

 Among 94 idioms of this system, metaphors relating to the force account for the highest percentage (52/94 idioms, accounting for 55.31%). All metaphors involve the intensity of love: love is a fire which can burn everything ( LOVE IS A FIRE), love is a force which can sweep everything away (LOVE IS A FORCE), love is a magic which can make people attracted (LOVE IS A MAGIC)

 [V-336]. Bao nhiêu ý nghĩ ngổn ngang bay đi hết nhường chỗ cho một sự thật về người đàn bà bằng xương bằng thịt cháy như thiêu như đốt.  

2.3.3. Metaphors of states

There are 29 Vietnamese idioms and 33 English ones among 62 idioms in this system. In metaphors of unity, lovers are considered a complementary unity of two parts to make a perfect combination (như hình với bóng, heart and soul, etc). 

  [V-319]. Trở về rồi thì thằng Junkim bám Hường như hình với bóng.  

  2.3.4. Metaphors of event structure

In this system, source domains of a journey, war or game are utilized in mappings onto the target domain of love. The most typical is the metaphor LOVE IS A JOURNEY (58 idioms, accounting for 65.9%). In love, two people have a special relationship with an aim for living together.  

  [A-215]. We have come a long way and you know, like I say, I have a lot of successful women in my life. 

 2.3.5. Metaphors of complex objects

 Idioms ranking the highest percentage are the realizations of the conceptual metaphors LOVE IS FOOD (41 idioms, accounting for 52.56%). The second highest is LOVE IS A LIVING ORGANISM (33 idioms, accounting for 42.3%).

   [V-447]. Của đáng tội cũng có mấy cô săn lùng chàng, sùng sục cả lên, nhưng cô nào cũng xôi hỏng bỏng không.  

 2.3.6. Metaphors of positive/ negative judgement

The number of idioms in this system is limited (32/ 419 idioms, accounting for 7.64%). This partially illustrates the conceptualization of love on the source domain of valuable commodity and lovers are considered the people who exchange commodity.  

  [A-234]. I want you all to know that my relationship with you is one that I hold very dear

 2.3.7. Semantic features of conceptual metaphors of love

Cognitive models of love investigated in the dissertation are ideal with a variety of elements such as beliefs, attitudes (in the system of communication), affection and intimacy (in the system of emotions), wishes and desires (in the system of complex objects). 

In the system of communication, love is considered a personal experience inside the human body. Love is conceptualized as a container of deep emotions and feelings, associated with the need to be physically close to the lover. Intensity

is the central element in the system of emotions and feelings: Love is conceptualized in terms of fire, force or magic. Love is mapped on the source domains of a journey, war or a game. In terms of state system, the target domain of love is likely to have chosen correspondences in the source domain (a possessed object, a unity, a physical bond) on the physcial characterisitcs such as sexual relations (a unity) or maternal relations (a physical bond). Semantic features of the stability and steadiness of the source domains are mapped onto the target domains, which results in corresponding language expressions. 

2.4. Conceptual metaphors of marriage

 2.4.1. Metaphors of communication

 The groups with the highest occurrences of idioms are associated with conceptual metaphors of containers (20/39 idioms, accounting for 51. 28%) and the sharings (11/39 idioms, accounting for 28.21%). 

 Sharing in marriage can be seen as a commitment, in which, husbands and wives share four types of needs: internal needs (emtions), external needs (finance and material), physical needs (sexual relation), formal needs (legal states).

  [V-46]. Chị quyết định ly hôn sau tháng ngày dài dày vò trăn trở, buông tay người chồng từng đồng cam cộng khổ.    

 In addition, conceptual metaphor MARRIAGE IS A CONTAINER is illustrated with the space boundaries such as  front/ rear, up/ down, in/out (có thủy có chung, trong ấm ngoài êm),..

  [V-432]. Tôi thì không thích kiểu “ông chằng bà chuộc”. Nên gia đình tôi vẫn được sự thuận hòa trong ấm ngoài êm

2.4.2. Metaphors of emotions

Among 20/317 idioms of this system, the number of idioms denoting conceptual metaphors of intimacy ranks the highest with 15 occurrences, accounting for 75%. Other elements such as fire/ temperature, force or magic are not common. The intimacy is illustrated with the space (ăn cận nằm kề), or physical contact (đầu ấp tay gối, ra đụng vào chạm)

  [V-152]. Vợ chồng người ta đang là đồng tịch đồng sàng, đồng sinh đồng tử, cưu mang đồng lần.  

2.4.3. Metaphors of states

 In this system, idioms related to the unity account for the highest percentage of 37% with 47 occurrences, followed by a physical bond (38/127 idioms) and destiny/ fate (18/127 idioms). Non physical unity results from the structure of the source domain associated with physical unity. [111, p.222]. This is the core feature of conceptual metaphors of marriage. 

  [V-234]. Bởi vì chàng không được kết tóc trăm năm với Cẩm Vân thì chẳng còn trông mong gì nữa mà học.  

 Conceptual metaphors of destiny/ fate are common in Vietnamese with some expressions like căn duyên thiên định, cái duyên cái kiếp, ông tơ bà nguyệt. Especially, there are no English idioms denoting such conceptual metaphors of marriage.

  [V- 45]. Tại cái duyên cái số cả đấy. Ông ta đã ngoài năm mươi. Còn cái Huyền mới bước sang tuổi hai mươi ba.

2.4.4. Metaphors  of event structures

 In this system, conceptual metaphors associated with journey are the most common with the highest occurrences of 45 idioms, accounting for 84.9%. The features of a journey are mapped onto the target domain of marriage. 

 [A-28]. She shared in a battle that had begun when she was at one of many crossroads in her marriage. 

 In addition, the source domain of a war is also mapped onto the target domain of marriage.  

2.4.5. Metaphors of complex objects

Idioms denoting conceptual metaphors of marriage are associated with the source domains of food (25/58 idioms), living organism (17/58 idioms), home (15/58 idioms). Conceptual metaphors of home involve the structure of the object and the stability of the relationship.  

  [A-408]. Now they are back under the same roof.

 Conceptual metaphors related to the source domain of food are realized in the idiom in the example [V-435]. 

  [V-435]. Tuần trăng mật trôi đi nhanh, cô và Tùng lại hối hả bước vào cuộc sống mưu sinh.

 2.4.6. Metaphors of positive/ negative judgement

 In this system of metaphor, marriage is conceptualized as a valuable commodity: giữ giá làm cao, như bắt được vàng,  

  [V- 317]. Lấy được Liên, Quân như bắt được vàng

2.4.7. Semantic features of conceptual metaphors of marriage

Conceptual metaphors of love are not only related to source domains of journey, but also associated with other elements such as intimacy, unity or bond, etc. 

The nature of a marriage is the unity of the two complementary parts. As a result, the closeness or intimacy in marriage is considered to be typical and realized in the physical space and contact between a husband and a wife. Marriage is also defined as the legal and emotional bond. Conceptual metaphors associated with a physical bond reflect the interdependence of marriage. 

In the system of conceptual metaphors of events, marriage is conceptualized as a long journey. In addition, the cognitive basis of marriage relationship originates from the complex objects, in which, the most outstanding are conceptual metaphors relating to source domains of home, living organism or food.  

2.5. Summary of chapter 2

Firstly, all conceptual metaphors of social relationships share the same experientialism: features of specific, popular objects are the foundation for the conceptualization of abstract, complex social relationships. 

Secondly, idioms denoting conceptual metaphors of social relationships share a variety of semantic features such as the closeness, intimacy, sharing, bond, etc. Although the language expressions to denote conceptual metaphors of social relationships are different in the two languages, social relationships of friendship, love and marriage are universal interpersonal relationship in the human life. 

Thirdly, there are some differences in the quantity and semantic features of Vietnamese and English idioms denoting social relationships. This reflects the fact that there is a close relationship between the language, conceptualization process and experientialism. Studying the language helps provide a more profound and thorough understanding of the conceptualization and experientialism of the human beings. 

 

Chapter 3 COGNITIVE BASIS AND CULTURAL CHARACTERISTICS

OF CONCEPTUAL METAPHORS OF SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS 

IN VIETNAMESE AND ENGLISH IDIOMS

 

3.1. Introduction

In this chapter, we aim to investigate the influential factors of conceptual metaphors such as experiences, cultures, society, etc. At the same time, we expect to identify the similarities as well as differences of conceptual metaphors of social relationships in Vietnamese and English idioms. 

3.2. The relations of culture and language

3.2.1. Definition of culture

Culture is considered the shared understandings typical of a group of people. In that sense, the relation between metaphors and cultures is more clearly identified. [110].

3.2.2. Characteristics of culture

 Trần Ngọc Thêm [39] summarizes four typical characteristics of culture: human, valuable, systematic and historical. These are the required criteria that enable the discrimination of culture and other related issues. 

 3.2.3. Relations of culture and language

Language and culture are closely interrelated to each other [41]. Language is the most important factor which bears the most typical cultural characteristics of a nation. The selection of language expressions manifests the relation of culture and language. 

3.3. Cognitive models of conceptual metaphors of social relationships

There are different viewpoints of cognitive models of conceptual metaphors of social relationships. We are in favour of the opinion that experiences determine the corresponding conceptual metaphors and different conceptual metaphors gather to make cognitive models. The analysis and assumption in the dissertation are based on this model together with three- level model of metaphors proposed by Kövecses [111. 

3.4. Similarities of conceptual metaphors of social relationships in Vietnamese and English idioms

3.4.1. Similarities of source domain 

A great number of source domains are associated with basic human needs. This is not a complete and perfect investigation of all domains associated with conceptual

metaphors. However, we confirm that these source domains is a simplified world, but they are actually the nature of the world that enables people to create more abstract concepts like social relationships. 

3.4.2. Similarities of semantic features of conceptual metaphors

Firstly, cognitive basis of three social relationships of the native speakers are reasonably similar: conceptual metaphors of communication is the most typical of friendship, conceptual metaphors of emotions and feelings are the most outstanding ones of love; conceptual metaphors of bond or commitment are the fundamental of marriage.  

Secondly, a great quantity of conceptual metaphors are based on the embodiment. The correspondences between targeting the aim and reaching the destination, desire of love and the increase of temperature, etc are common in Vietnamese and English idioms.  

 However, the embodiment on which the native people conceptualize different abstract concepts must be natural and widely accepted in the language community of the native speakers. 

 3.5. Differences of cultural characteristics and cognitive basis of conceptual metaphors of social relationships in Vietnamese and English idioms

 3.5.1. Crosscultural differences

3.5.1.1. Differences of conceptual metaphors

 Marriage is considered to be the most profound and popular concept in Vietnamese with 223 occurrences. In contrast, the number of English idioms denoting conceptual metaphors of love occupies half of the data with 226 occurrences out of 419 idioms. Differences are manifested in the conceptual metaphors that each language and culture use to conceptualize the target domain of social relationships. 

 (a). The number of idioms denoting conceptual metaphors of friendship ranks the lowest in the two languages, in which the number of English idioms in the system of communication metaphors five fold that of Vietnamese.

(b). Love is a highly conceptualized category both in Vietnamese and English. Firstly, the number of English idioms denoting conceptual metaphors of possession, economic exchange is much higher than that of Vietnamese. Secondly, there are some differences in the quantity of idioms denoting conceptual metaphors of such source domains as journey, war or game (57 English idioms versus 31 Vietnamese idioms). Thirdly, Vietnamese idioms account for two thirds of the total number of 27 occurrences relating to conceptual metaphors of magic. 

 (c). Marriage is a very important category in Vietnamese people’s thought and

daily life, which is realized in the conceptual metaphors of states. The number of Vietnamese idioms denoting all conceptual metaphors are much higher than that of English, especially physical bonds with 26 occurrences in Vietnamese and 12 in English, unity with 45 Vietnamese idioms and 2 English ones, and destiny/ fate (18 and 0 corresponsively). Physical bonds are the basic concepts in Vietnamese people’s daily life: kết tóc trăm năm, chồng chắp vợ nối, rổ rá cạp lại, etc. In a culture which highly appreciates the harmony like Vietnam, the harmony is considered to be a significant element. In all social relationships, the harmony is the prerequisite and everything can be done on the basis of love: chồng hòa vợ thuận, chồng khôn vợ ngoan,.. Besides, the concept of fate is very complicated and overlapped, in which the nature is related to destiny: căn duyên thiên định, cái duyên cái kiếp, phải duyên phải kiếp,etc. This concept originates from the beliefs on karma and theory of samsara of Reincarnation in Buddhism.  

 Secondly, in the system of complex metaphors, the number of Vietnamese idioms five folds that of English (49 and 9 corresponsively), in which the most popular source domains are homes (13 and 2), living organism (15 and 2) or food (21 and 4). Marriage is conceptualized in terms of the stability and steadiness of the relationship. To Vietnamese people, the nature of agricultural culture highly appreciates the settlement, thus, the fact that home is significant in people’s life is quite consistent and obvious. [39]. In addition, hot and humid climate with a lot of rain in the East is a favourable condition for plants to grow. Vocabularies of plants and typical plants (cây lúa, cây tre, cây trúc, cây đào, etc ) occupy an imporant role in Vietnamese idioms. Also, idioms related to source domain of food are common in Vietnamese like cơm lành canh ngọt, ăn cơm trước kẻng, etc. We assume that in Vietnamese people’s thoughts, marriage is conceptualized in terms of basic physical and material needs in daily life.  

3.5.1.2. Differences of semantic features of conceptual metaphors

 In other cases, two languages may share the similar conceptual metaphors but their semantic features may not be the same. In  English, heart is regarded as the container of love emotions and feelings such as from the bottom of my heart, break one’s heart. However, in English, there are different expressions associated with concepts of lòng, dạ, bụng, ruột such as đau lòng xót ruột, một lòng một dạ, etc. 

 3.5.1.3. Causes of the crosscultural differences

 There are two main causes of the crosscultural differences: (i) natural physical environment (ii) broad cultural context (social context), that is the rules, basic

concepts of a culture.

 (i). Natural physical environment

 Natural physical environment (geographical conditions, sceneries, living environment, etc) influences the language, especially the vocabulary stock. On that basis, natural physical environment partially creates the metaphors.  

 Hot and humid climate with a lot of rain in Vietnam results in big rivers with complex and sophisticated topography. Living conditions of Vietnamese people are associated with water and rivers, therefore, in conceptual metaphors of social relationships on the source domain of a journey, lexical elements related to water and river are plentiful and diversed such as đứng mũi chịu sào, lỡ bước sang ngang, ngăn sông cấm chợ.... or elements reflecting the topographical features such as  trèo đèo lội suối, vượt suối băng rừng, etc.

 In contrast, its vast and flat topography enables Western citizens to travel on roads by horse, car, train, etc. As a result, the native speakers of English conceptualize social relationships manifested in idioms with vocabulary stock associated with this way of traveling such as off the road, burn the boat, at the crossroads, etc.   

 In addition, Vietnamese agriculture is separate and dependent so  it is difficult to mechanize it. Therefore, word groups indicating way of delivering goods by human force is (mang, vác, gánh, khiêng…) are quite common in Vietnamese idioms like giữa đường đứt gánh, đa mang đèo bòng, gánh tương tư, etc. In the meantime, there are several language expressions related to source domains of machine in English like oil the wheels

 Natural features put the life of the inhabitants under the influence of nature. Images of natural forces such as gió, bão, mây, mưa, etc are popular in Vietnamese idioms such as mây mưa chăn gối, nổi tình mây mưa, nhớ mây thương gió,etc. 

 (ii) Broad cultural context (social context)

 Broad cultural context is the social, national, cultural contexts of the native speakers [21]. A developed commodity economy associated with economic exchange has become an essential part of Western people. This makes a great effect on the conceptualization of social relationships in English with 39 idioms related to this concept such as on good terms of, big deals, etc. On the other hand, the conceptualization of social relationships in Vietnamese in terms of this domain is not as clear and popular as in English.  

 3.5.2. Intracultural differences

3.5.2.1. Differences of conceptual metaphors

 There are conceptual metaphors of different semantic features in each language. The two conceptual metaphors upon the mappings from source domain of unity and economic exchange to target domain of love take an important role in the construction of two cultural models: ideal love and typical love. Whereas in traditional love, ideal unity is highly appreciated, beneficial aspect of this relationship is much favoured in modern love. 

 3.5.2.2.  Differences of semantic features of conceptual metaphors

 The meaning of friend in English has changed time after time, which reflect a hidden change in human relationships. In a variety of discourses, the phrase close friend is a relatively common expression. It can be seen that the meaning of friend has been weakened. As a result, to make the friendship more influential and related, speakers have to select the language expression close friend.  

3.6. Summary of chapter 3

The consideration of relations of language, culture and thought reflects the involvement of culture in metaphors.  

The analysis in this chapter has showed a fact that Vietnamese and English share the same cognitive basis when conceptualizing social relationships. A number of source domains are widely used in both Vietnamese and English such as a journey, container, food, sharings, etc. Among them, the common cognitive basis of the two cultures are the experiential basis obtained from people’s daily life.  

Moreover, there still exist several differences of cognitive basis and cultural characteristics of conceptual metaphors denoting social relationships. 

Firstly, marriage is the most universal and profound in Vietnamese idioms with 223 out of 453 occurrences whereas love is more popular in English idioms with 226 out of 419 occurrences. 

Secondly, Vietnamese idioms associated with basic human needs such as food, sleep, accommodation, travel far outnumber that of English due to the fact that Vietnamese people tend to conceptualize social relationship in terms of concrete and familiar source domains in their life. 

Thirdly, the differences of geography result in the differences of culture. Agricultural nations of rice paddy depend hugely on nature so they appreciate stability and harmony. Source domains of physical bond, unity of two complementary parts, home, food, are more popular in Vietnamese idioms. In contrast, nomadic people favour the movement and activeness as well as individualism.  As a result, the number of

English idioms denoting conceptual metaphors of social relationships associated with source domains as journey, war, communication, force, possession, etc account for higher percentage compared with that of Vietnamese idioms. 

Fourthly, social and economic conditions result in differences of conceptual metaphors. Underdeveloped and unmechanized economy influences the occurrences of Vietnamese idioms associated with plants, domestic animals, movement. In contrast, the Western developed industries encourage the appearances of English idioms denoting conceptual metaphors in terms of machines, travel on the sea, etc

In short, cognitive pictures of social relationships of native speakers are realized vividly, specifically and clearly in the system of Vietnamese and English idioms. The cultural and cognitive differences of conceptual metaphors of social relationship in Vietnamese and English idioms contribute to the better understandings of cognitive mechanism that people use to conceptualize the world. 

 

 

 

CONCLUSION

 

Within three different chapters, the dissertation investigates the idioms denoting social relationships in Vietnamese and English from the perspectives of cognitive linguistics. The followings are some conclusions drawn from the analysis and explanations of semantic features, cognitive basis as well as cultural characteristics of conceptual metaphors of social relationships in English and Vietnamese idioms.  

1. Social relationship is a popular category in people’s daily life. It is a broad term and overlap of different interpersonal relationships. However, friendship, love and marriage are considered the basic relationships in human life. The foundations of these relations are the voluntary and intimacy. At the same time, these relationships are interconnected with each other: friendship is the basis of love and love is the foundation of marriage.  

2. Idioms have been chosen for investigation as they are considered to manifest the relationships of language, conceptualization and experiences. The study of linguistic expressions, specifically Vietnamese and English idioms denoting social relationship aims to demonstrate the process of conceptualization and experience of the two different cultures.  

3. Idioms have been investigated from the perspectives of cognitive linguistics. In term of semantics, language does not reflect the reality directly but via the concepts expressed in the language. Interactive relationships of such elements as source domain, target domain, mapping, experiences, language expressions, cognitive models have been considered. A conceptual metaphor involves a certain basic source domain and a target domain. Experiences partially influence the selection of specific source and target domains. Through the conceptual mappings from the source to the target domains, these conceptual metaphors determine the correspondent language expressions. A variety of conceptual metaphors gather to create a cognitive model. These models illustrate the typical specific features of cultures and cognition of each nation and language. 

4. The dessertation has conducted a profound and thorough survey and investigation into such social relationships as friendship, love and marriage in terms of semantic features, cognitive basis and cultural characteristics of these conceptual

metaphors in Vietnamese and English idioms. It can be seen from the investigation results that the majority of the knowledge of social realtionship is realized in idioms. Apart from the similarities between Vietnamese and English idioms, there still exist some differences which reflect the typical cognitive basis and cultural characteristics.  

5. It can be concluded that the similarities and differences of conceptual metaphors denoting social relationship result from the experientialism (embodiment), sociocultural experiences (contexts) and cognitive process (style and selection). These elements exit in almost all metaphors investigated in the study. 

6. The analysis of the dissertation has showed the close relationship between the use of Vietnamese and English idioms and the experiences of the human beings. A great number of conceptual metaphors base on the relationship resulting from the experiences. In which, the conceptualization process of metaphors involving physical experiences are common in Vietnamese idioms with such elements related to basic human needs as food, sleep, accomodation, travel. In addition, culture is also an influential element of conceptualization of social relationships. It is assumed that the corresponding similarities of conceptual metaphors denoting social relationships in Vietnamese and English idioms originate from the experiences of the human beings. 

7. The dissertation has analyzed and contrasted the cultural characteristics and cognition of conceptual metaphors denoting social relationships via conceptual mappings in Vietnamese and English. Apart from the similarities of conceptual metaphors denoting social relationships in Vietnamese and English, there exist some differences. 

Firstly, marriage is the most popular and deeply rooted concept in Vietnamese people’s life, whereas love is much more influential in English. 

Secondly, language expessions are used to reflect different ways of thinking of native people. Elements associated with source domains of physical bond, unity, home, food, etc are common in Vietnamese idioms. In the mean time, the cognitive basis of English idioms associated with the concepts of a journey, war, communication or possession is more popular. This reflects the fact that Vietnamese people favour the stability and steadiness of the social relationships whereas English native speakers prefer the active and developmental aspects of these relationships. 

8. Mechanism of semantic construction of idioms denoting social relationship is considered in the interaction with the culture and living environment. This results

in the similarities as well as differences of different languages. The foreign language teaching should be flexible, in which, universal features in each language should be considered. At the same time, typical cultural characteristics of each languages should be given attention with an aim to facilitate the teaching, learning as well as scientific research.  

With the above mentioned conclusions, it is hoped that the dissertation would contribute to the resources as well as clarify the typical semantic features in the conceptualization of three basic social relationships among the native people. The research results would be a valuable reference for teachers, students, researchers in linguistics in general and English in particular. 

The potential studies in the approach of cognitive linguistics would be of the following topics:

- A study on the conceptual metaphors of love in Vietnamese and English from the perspectives of cognitive linguistics. 

- A study on the conceptual metaphors of human values in Vietnamese and English idioms from the perspectives of cognitive linguistics. 

- A study on the conceptual metaphors of time in Vietnamese and English idioms from the perspectives of cognitive linguistics.

 

PUBLISHED SCIENTIFIC JOURNALS

RELATED TO THE DISSERTATION 

 

1. Nguyễn Thị Kim Anh (2013), “Conceptual metaphor MARRIAGE IS A JOURNEY in idioms and proverbs (in Vietnamese and English languages), National Scientific Conference, Hanoi National University of Education. 

2. Nguyễn Thị Kim Anh (2014), “A preliminary study on conceptual metaphor FRIENDSHIP IS A PLANT in English and Vietnamese”, The 4th International Conference on Sciences and Social Sciences 2014. (ICSS2014), Thailand.

3. Nguyễn Thị Kim Anh (2015), “Cultural variation in Conceptual metaphors of love in English and Vietnamese”, The 1st International Conference on Humanities and Social sciences (ICHS 2015), Thailand.

4. Nguyễn Thị Kim Anh (2016), “A study on conceptual metaphors of love in system of event metaphors (in English and Vietnamese idiom)”, Vinh University, No. 1B.

5. Ngô Đình Phương, Nguyễn Thị Kim Anh (2016), “Cultural variations in conceptual metaphors of love in English and Vietnamese idioms”, Scientific journal, Foreign studies, No. 2, Volume 32, Hanoi National University.  

NGUYỄN THỊ KIM ANH