The Study of the Conceptual Metaphors of Sound in English

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Suparak Techacharoenrung
Sudaporn Luksaneeyanawin


Sound is regarded as the most significant medium for communication since it carries a great deal of information specific to human beings (Takada 2008). Understanding of sound, apart from the scientific perspectives, is closely related to the way humans conceptualize sound through languages. Sound is abstract and metaphorical (Sukrasorn and Prasithrathsint 2011; Wongthai 2009) as it depends on the interpretation of language users when experiencing a stimulus (Ritchie 2006; Cavallaro 2013). The study therefore aims to explore the conceptual metaphor of sound derived from the metaphorical expressions. The data were from the corpus of English contemporary novels. There were 1,491 English expressions with the keywords, “voice” and “sound,” and their co-occurring words found by the AntConc program developed by Laurence Anthony and the English-Thai parallel concordance provided by Department of Linguistics, Chulalongkorn University. It was found that the meanings of these expressions mostly involved the transfer from the common source domains including the force and action, the spatio-physical dimension, the movement and direction, and the container schema (Lakoff and Johnson 1980, 1987; Kövecses 2000, 2002, 2010). It can be concluded that the concept of sound was closely related to the bodily experience. Sound can also be described in terms of other concepts such as ferocious animals, opponents in a struggle, and mythical/supernatural concepts. In addition, it is interesting that sound was conceptualized through other sensory modalities i.e. visual, gustatory and tactile domains, resulting in the synaesthetic expressions such as “bright voice,” “bitter voice” and “a little sharp sound.” This conformed to the directionality patterns in terms of the co-occurrence of senses in English (Ullmann 1962, Williams 1976, Day 1996). The conceptualization of sound through metaphorical expressions also conveyed the emotive meaning. The implications of this study therefore contribute to universality and variation of human conceptualization, intercultural communication, and translation study.


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Suparak Techacharoenrung, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University

Suparak Techacharoenrungrueang, Department of Linguistics, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand

Sudaporn Luksaneeyanawin, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University

Sudaporn Luksaneeyanawin, Ph.D., English as an International Language, International Graduate Program, Graduate School, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand


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