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4B06 Phan Thi Ngoc Thach a Contrastive Analysis of Vietnamese and English Metaphor

4B06 Phan Thi Ngoc Thach a Contrastive Analysis of Vietnamese and English Metaphor

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English and Vietnamese Metaphors
English and Vietnamese Metaphors

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University of Pedagogy, Ho Chi Minh City English Department


A contrastive analysis of Vietnamese and English Metaphor

Instructor: Ph.D Nguyen Ngoc Vu Student: Class: Phan Thi Ngoc Thach 4B06

A red cock fell into your red monkey with a moustache. a servant came to him and said respectfully that “the best gentleman. we would like to suggest some application of those similarities and variances in teaching as well as some ways of giving a better understanding about metaphors in the classroom 2 . “the best gentleman” for his name. I’m afraid that the red cock would eat up your best mountain”. The “white swan” is a metaphor of “his bed”. “the monkey with a moustache” for his cat. and on utterances in daily life. Metaphors penetrate into the fables. One day. Metaphors are both similar and various across cultures. For example. please quickly move away from your white swan. “the deep blue pond” for water. fairy tales. Nguyen Thien Giap provide readers a fun story: “Once upon a time. “the white swan” for his bed.A contrastive Analysis of Vietnamese and English Metaphors Abstract In his book “Dan Luan Ngon Ngu Hoc”. It took the aristocrat such a long time to understand that his house was completely fired” (82) Many metaphors are used in the funny story above. If you don’t mind. This research is aimed at making clear the likeliness and the differences of Vietnamese and English metaphors. Furthermore. “the red cock” for the fire. “The red cock” and” the monkey with a moustache”… are also metaphors. take the deep blue pond immediately. or else. and the “best mountain” for his house. an English aristocrat forced his servants to use the special names for his possession.

Language is life’s reflector. 3 . For instance. the demanding of keeping secret and the need of using ornate style. The social environment is. we can see lots of Vietnamese use “bác” to indicate the person they are talking with. Foreigners could hardly understand the meaning of the word “cốm” in the sentence: “bọn cốm đến rồi kìa. In term of the ornate style. in both English and Vietnamese. language is also changing. In his work. when browsing Vietnamese forums. It is somehow similar to the English use of “my kitten”.. we can pick up thousands of examples. not a “young cat” but a cute woman of whom the speaker’s fond. These words not only carry the basic meaning “I” and “you” but also convey a positive connotation which indicate the longing for getting acquainted with the opposite. “cốm” means “the police”.. we can take “cốm” as example. In term of the keeping secret demand.. uttered by two men sitting in a café shop. “chị”. In Vietnamese. This habit makes the meaning of “bác” change one way or another. Social life is changing everyday. mainly. This word indicates the politeness since netizens do not know (or not sure) with whom they are talking. we can see the ornate style very clearly in the fork song below: “Bây giờ mận mới hỏi đào Vườn hồng đã có ai vào hay chưa” “Mận and “đào” mean “I” and “you”. The frequent use of a word makes the word change its meaning. Meaning change phenomenon Causes of meaning change phenomenon Metaphor is a subpart of meaning change phenomenon. Obviously. “Dan Luan Ngon Ngu Hoc”. Nguyen Thien Giap (81) clarifies the meaning change phenomenon into three causes The most important reason is the social environment. The second reason of meaning change phenomenon is the linguistic reason. chuồn thôi”.A contrastive Analysis of Vietnamese and English Metaphors 1. instead of “bạn”’ “anh”.

1. like “an angle of a problem”. one will say “con rùa này bò chậm ghê” to his friend when he is waiting hourly downloading a file on the internet. The Oxford English Advanced Learner Dictionary (49) states that “angle” means “the space between two lines or surfaces that join. a sour small. The food is spoilt. we can use “mùi” in Vietnamese and “compose” in English as examples. “Compose” is generally used with the meaning as “make up” or write music” (The Oxford English Advanced 4 . The first type of meaning change phenomenon is to extend the meaning of a word. Time passes. For example. “mùi” is a word that prefers to the smell of something. The meaning is curtailed from the general sense of odor to a specific smell. when it is in the sentence “thức ăn này có mùi rồi”. the word “đẹp” is basically used for describing the outside of something. However. Another example is the word “angle” in English. “Con rùa này” is a metaphor of the computer he is using. We can also find the same example in English. “mùi” means something sour. such as relationship (đẹp lời) or mentality (đẹp lòng).2 Three common kinds of meaning change phenomena In “Dan Luan Ngon Ngu Hoc”. people also use “angle” as “an aspect”. people also use this word the same as “human beings”. the meaning of “man” is changed.A contrastive Analysis of Vietnamese and English Metaphors One more example is the use of “man” in English. measured in degrees”. The moods of speakers at a momentary time will add more colors to his or her utterances. However. Nguyen Thien Giap (84) describes the meaning change phenomenon in three types. Therefore. The second type of meaning change phenomenon is to curtail the meaning of a word. “A “man” means a “male”. Now. The last main reason of meaning change phenomenon is the psychological status of a speaker. For example. Another example is “compose”. “an angle of a vision”. In Vietnamese. it is widely used in some other areas. To illustrate this point.

“Whitehouse” is for the US President. Do Huu Chau (134) divides metaphors into five subparts: • The first kind is metaphors based on form. the meaning of “compose” is curtailed. 3. In order word. The last type of meaning change phenomenon is changing the meaning of a word. 5 . Among them. in order to show that the two things have the same qualities and to make the description more powerful”. Metaphor will be analyzed clearer in the next part of the research. Metaphor’s definition According to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (925). “chân bàn”. in a way that is different from its normal use. 297). For example. In addition. it is obviously that this metaphor created more power in the utterance. the words “compose” in ‘he is composing his feeing” means that “he’s calm and able to control his feeling”. “metaphor is a word or phrase used to describe somebody or something else. It figuratively describes the angry “I” want to give “him”.A contrastive Analysis of Vietnamese and English Metaphors Learner Dictionary.1 About Vietnamese metaphors There are various ways of categorizing Vietnamese metaphor. Another example is “I give him an earful”. “Bật đèn xanh” in the sentence “cô ấy bật đèn xanh cho tôi” is a metaphor. the category sorted by Do Huu Chau and Nguyen Thien Giap are the most reliable. “nhà tôi” is used to talk about “vợ tôi” (wife). It creates the strength in the utterance. It consists of metaphor and metonymy. “mũi dao”. Some kinds of Vietnamese and English metaphors 3. This kind of metaphor based on the similarities in the outside appearance. On the other hand. in His book “Tu vung Hoc Tieng Viet”. For example. Based on the meaning change mechanism. For example. It is figuratively used to describe another different concept “giving the encouragement”. The meaning does not change completely but somehow related to the basic meaning. 2. Metonymy is the act of using something’s name for something else in the case that the two things have close relationship.

metaphors are based on the use of animal’s names for man. there are eight kinds of metaphors: • Firstly. metaphors are based on function as “đèn dầu”. metaphors is based on form like “mũi kim”. they both have some subparts like metaphor based on form. • The next kind is metaphors based on function like “bến sông”. metaphors are based on the use of one characteristic for another. “cắt” and “nắm” in “cắt hộ khẩu”. “răng lược”. the content is quite the same. “con chó con của mẹ”. • Secondly. In term of the differences. “màu chàm”. “con tàu chạy”. metaphors are based on colors. • Fourthly.A contrastive Analysis of Vietnamese and English Metaphors • The second kind is metaphors based on position. Therefore. “bến tàu”. For example. “ý nghĩ độc ác”. metaphors are based on inner features. In term of the likeliness. function. “tình cảm phai nhạt”. “đèn điện”. “mèo của anh”. such as “thời gian đi”. Based on Nguyen Thien Giap’s “Tu Vung Hoc Tieng Viet” (163). For example. For example. “màu râu”. For example. “nắm bài”. • The last kind is metaphors based on the result (of utterance into the feeling of listeners) as “lời nói chua chát”. “nắm tình hình”. 6 . • Thirdly. “Hoạn thư”. For example. “dưới sân”. metaphors are based on the outer features. “đầu làng”. method. • Next. • Next. such as “Chí phèo. the numbers of subparts are different since the category of Nguyen Thien Giap is more specific. • The third kind is metaphors based on method of action. however. • Last. “màu vàng nhẹ”. • Next. Vietnamese metaphor should not be sorted as clear-cut categories. metaphors is based on the concretization of the abstract concepts like “nắm ngoại ngữ:.

g. “to break the ice”. • Conceptual metaphors are understood based on the opposite concept. the difference is the structural metaphor is explanation by another structural concept. According to Wikipedia. “she doesn’t believe that he’s two-timing her”. • Mixed metaphors are a succession of two or more than two metaphors. he often attaches that feeling with “up” (“I’m feeling up today”) and vice versa (“you let me down”) 7 . • Extended metaphors are mainly based on the comparisons between the two subjects. According to Nguyen Ngoc Vu. For example. When a person is happy or when he has a positive feeling. • Structural metaphors are understood in the way of conceptual metaphor. “love is a journey” is a conceptual metaphor since the concept “love” is defined suitably as “a journey” in which people must try hard in order to reach the final destination. For example. For example. there’re 4 main kinds of metaphors. • Orientational metaphors are metaphors that the two concepts have some relationship with each other. • Absolute metaphors express concepts that cannot be understood by any other ways but its only way.A contrastive Analysis of Vietnamese and English Metaphors 3. talking about “light”. Since dead metaphors are used frequently in everyday life. For instance. For example. people will never think about unfairness or untruths but justice and rightness. e. there’re 4 common kinds of metaphor: • Dead metaphors are metaphors that do not have the image transfers. “if we can hit that bulls eye then the rest of the dominoes will fall like a house of cards”. the subject and the comparable subject.2 About English metaphors English metaphors are as various as Vietnamese metaphors. people tend not to regard those as metaphors. “anger is a fire” is an extended metaphor of whose main subject is “anger” and of whose comparable subject is “fire”. However. “Up” and “down” is a typical example of orientational metaphor.

“children’s mind is a blank page”. The tenor is “Michael”. to some extend. The second example is “Michael is a Barbie girl” one sees that his friend. 8 . we can see that both English and Vietnamese metaphors have two parts (the tenor and the vehicle) and the common ground. He will say. The vehicle is “a Barbie girl”.1 In term of their components Despite the variation metaphor have. we see that English metaphors are also divided by various ways. “The tenor (or the target) is the subject to which attributes are ascribed. metaphors should not be defined as straightforward categories. The similarity on which the metaphor is based is the two are both beautiful and active.A contrastive Analysis of Vietnamese and English Metaphors • Ontological metaphors are metaphor that based on the concrete concept. The first example is “bật đèn xanh” as an example. The actual metaphor is “cô ấy khuyến khích tôi tiếp tục“(she gave me a good response like a green light). we can say that its metaphor is hidden. To sum up. The concrete concepts define the abstract concepts. In general. The numbers of English as well as Vietnamese subparts of metaphors are based on the specific framings. 4. The vehicle is “bật đèn xanh”. and attractive. the tenor is “khuyến khích” (a good response or something like that). The similarities of Vietnamese and English metaphors 4. Richard). For example. in I. “Michael is a Barbie girl”. Wikipedia states they are both consist of two parts: the tenor and the vehicle (qtd. Since we cannot find out the two parts clearly. The vehicle is the subject who attributes are borrowed”. Therefore. The similarities on which the metaphor is based is both allow people or thing continue doing something. Therefore.Michael is beautiful. and the specific purpose of each author. A.

mắt tre of a potato.2. of nằm stairs Face Mặt bàn. being requested). of a gun giày Neck Hands Cổ chai.2 In term of their function 4.A contrastive Analysis of Vietnamese and English Metaphors 4. for going out and around. “Chân”-“foot” is the last part of the body. of a building đất Eye Nose Mắt dứa. mũi of an aircraft. In Vietnamese “mũi súng” hints at the pointed part of a gun. mặt of a watch. cổ lọ Tay lái. in English. For example. and “mặt”“face”…appeared very early to name after the parts in the body in order to help people distinguish each kind of body part as well as distinguish their outside appearances. đầu giường. contained the brain. mặt ghế. the use of “the nose of a gun” mentions that part. For example. “mắt”-“eye”. people develop hundred of words to name for hundred of things in case those words have some characteristics in common. đầu of a queue. The other examples are: Body’s parts Head Vietnamese English Đầu tủ. The purpose of meaning change is to make the words more vivid. of an altimeter 9 . in English. tay cầm Bottle-neck of a watch. “mũi”-“nose”. and serving a personal purpose (like keeping secret. functions and positions via the specific meaning of each word. the word “đầu giường” indicates the top of the bed. Let us take some metaphors about body part as examples. the word “the head of a bed” to talk about that. of a bed. Some words like “đầu”-“head” . of an animal Mũi tên. in Vietnamese. “đầu”-“head” is a top part of the body. mũi dao. Basing on the basic meaning of those words.1 They both serve as a way of changing the basic meaning.

In other words. Diggings deeper. Tôi luôn tỉnh táo để tạo ra chiến lược phản công trước những lời công kích của họ. That is because language is much easier to be observed than thought and action. people think about the world metaphorically and act metaphorically. Secondly. it is used with negative connotation (based on the function of controlling the brain) as “cứng đầu”. Metaphor serves as a way of changing the basic meaning of subjects for the use of the other subjects. Moreover. “Argument is war” is a typical example of the way people use metaphor as cognitive mechanism In Vietnamese: • • • • Họ tấn công vào điểm yếu trong bài phát biểu của tôi. “đầu bò” in Vietnamese and “bull-headed” in English. we see that metaphors serve as a way of using the basic meaning of one subject for the other subjects. There is a popular idea that metaphor exist only in language. using metaphor. metaphor is more universal than that.2. the word “head” also has some other meanings. 4. making words functionally various. we found out metaphors are not only the way of using the basic meaning of one subject for the other subjects but also a means of creating other meanings from the basic meanings. However. is often conscious. Tôi đánh gục mọi lí lẽ của bọn họ. the process of thought and action. Human beings not only use metaphors in language but also use metaphor in both their language and action. it is used with a positive connotation (the honored position or the leader) like “đứng đầu” in Vietnamese and “the head of the department” in English.A contrastive Analysis of Vietnamese and English Metaphors In the examples above. Firstly. For example. 10 . Họ không bao giờ thắng khi tranh luận với tôi.2 They both serve as cognitive mechanism. apart from the meaning “the first part”.

a war of verbal messages. time is connected with money.A contrastive Analysis of Vietnamese and English Metaphors In English: • • • • I knock down their argument. we regard the opposite as our enemies. In our modern society. hotels charge their customers by how much time they stay. In addition. the most important thing is that we can win or lose. Argument and war are two different concepts. However. We attack them in order to protect ourselves by planning s strategy. which is used in a certain way to get a certain result or purpose. time is money. Another example is “time”. the human beings’ thought and action through the cognitive mechanism influence the use of metaphors and present by the metaphors. workers are paid based on time (part-time jobs). For example. and even. Time in the examples above is priceless goods. It is a limited property. Sắp hết thời gian làm bài. Họ rất trân trọng những giây phút bên nhau. How do you spend your time? We are running out of time. In a real argument. They never won any arguments with me. 11 . argument is presented as war since on cognitive mechanism. In English: • • • You are wasting your time in a useless effort. a business is closely attached to time. In Vietnamese: • • • Thiết bị này sẽ giúp tiết kiệm được thời gian. The core of metaphor is the understanding of one thing based on the characteristic of something else. Therefore. arguments are seen as wars. Those things exist in our society now and will be continued in the future. the interests is charged by the borrow time. We really think of “time” in the view of cognitive mechanism. Many concepts about war are used in argument. I protect my viewpoint. To sum up. Shoot me! I am listening to you.

the word “river mouth” expresses the beginning of a river. 12 . In addition. there will be a shortcoming if we do not mention the relationship between the language and the culture. when they want to mention the eye of a needle. “lỗ” is comprehended as”eye”. 5. Vietnamese. Vietnamese’s conventionalization of the beginning of a river is “cửa sông”. In the two examples above. The examples in Vietnamese do not contain any words like that.1 In term of the logical thinking The logical thinking of Vietnamese and the English-speaking community are distinctively different. Therefore. In English. too. will use the word “lỗ kim”. The differences between Vietnamese and English metaphors 5.2 In term of the cultural features Talking about metaphors. When they conventionalize phenomena.A contrastive Analysis of Vietnamese and English Metaphors 5. the process of conceptualization between Vietnamese and English-speaking community are different. We cannot state that English’s minds are more specific and relating to the concrete object than Vietnamese’s minds. they have different kinds of expressing their thought via their ideas. Let us take some Vietnamese and English idioms as examples. For example. all the English ones contain words of body’s parts like “eye” or “mouth”. In English. The culture is a very important element of forming the soul of the peoples. The only conclusion is that the ideas are conveyed in different ways since the logical thinking are different. Idioms are also a kind of metaphors since it is also the way of using words or phrases different from their literal meanings and makes the description more vivid or powerful. it contributes partly to the language use. The word “cửa” in Vietnamese is recognized as “mouth” in English. Therefore. the eye of a needle is verbalized as “eye of a needle”. we cannot say that Vietnamese have a richer source of vocabularies than English does.

the idiom “đàn gảy tai trâu” come in to exist in Vietnamese. “Lợn” (swine) in Vietnamese conceptions is considered as a stupid animal. the languages (especially metaphors) which present thoughts and action are various. it means “vãi ngọc trước bầy lợn”. If we translate the idiom “cast pearls before swine” into Vietnamese. buffaloes are the very familiar animal (and even the holy animal). “đàn” and “pearls” have the same figurative meaning. which the English idiom conveys.” Secondly. Trâu ra ngoài ruộng trâu cày với ta. In the two idiom above. There are some reasons for the use of “trâu” in Vietnamese.A contrastive Analysis of Vietnamese and English Metaphors The idiom “đàn gảy tai trâu” is a Vietnamese idiom talking about some useless efforts that are unable to influence the listeners. buffaloes work with farmers. the effort which the speaker does to influence the listener. Firstly. Despite the working condition. Cấy cày vốn nghiệp nông gia. It indicates the attitude of not listening to the other’s ideas. that idea is voiced by the idiom “cast pearls before swine”. when hearing this. will misunderstand the meaning. The only difference and the main difference between the two idioms are “trâu” (buffalo) and “swine”. as in the fork song below: “Trâu ơi ta bảo trâu này. In English. For example. Vietnamese are usually saying “ngu như heo”(or “ngu như lợn”). “Gãi” and “cast” are figuratively understood as the action to carry out those efforts. Therefore. Basing on the two reasons above. 13 . buffaloes are assiduous. in Vietnamese consciousness. Vietnamese. Ta đây trâu đấy ai mà quản công.

gà mọc đuôi tôm When the cat ‘s away. it obsessed and controlled Othello’s mind. a work telling about the destiny of Vietnamese woman in the feudal system. Desdemona ended in a tragedy. Since he was always blaming his wife as infidelity woman. Vietnamese declaim “Keu”. he made many unpardonable mistakes. people will use the image of Othello. the mice will play Diamond cuts diamonds English You can’t get blood out of stone Combining one task with Một công đôi việc another task Someone enjoy themselves more and freely when the person in charge of them is away (Note: the underline words indicate the differences) Another example is the metaphor about jealousy in Vietnamese and English. The notion as “ghen như hoạn thư” began to exist since the great Vietnamese Poem. Nguyen Du. “Kieu is so famous that it takes root in Vietnamese’s soul. 14 . Jealousy likes a green-eye monster. the marriage of both Othello and his wife. If a Vietnamese woman is always following her husband or her lover like a shadow and has negatively strong reaction to any girl who intends to approach her object. At the end. In English. becoming the standard of behavior. talking about jealous.A contrastive Analysis of Vietnamese and English Metaphors Some other differences in expressing the thoughts via idioms are: The content of metaphor Vietnamese Doing some very difficult Mò kim đáy biển task that are unable to get a good result Using deeper scheme to Vỏ quýt dày có móng win the others tay nhọn Kill two birds with one stone Chủ vắng nhà. write “Kieu”. Shakespeare. “Othello” is a famous work of W. she is regard as “Hoạn Thư”. Vietnamese read “Kieu”.

How can the students completely understand the message without the knowledge about metaphors? They need to begin to understand by trying to find the literal meaning first. we also see the differences in the culture. they need to imagine getting the figurative message. woman often causes jealousy. Reading is a perceptive skill. “Hoạn Thư” and “Othello”. metaphors help the student in comprehending a reading text. In addition. the teachers could provide the student some model sentences that contained metaphor and ask the student to infer the figurative meaning of the metaphor. Both “Kieu” and “Othello” are so famous that they make strong influences to the culture of the two languages-Vietnamese and English In conclusion. the teacher could suggest the students brainstorming any words 15 . the jealousy is prejudiced against men. in English.A contrastive Analysis of Vietnamese and English Metaphors In the two ways of talking about jealousy. However. The application of metaphors Metaphors are a very important part of language use. That culture is different causes the variations in language. To begin with. Therefore. There are some tasks that the teacher could in the classroom to help the student realizing the importance of metaphors. Vietnamese has a famous fork song: “Ớt nào mà ớt chẳng cay Gái nào mà gái chẳng hay ghen chồng” Therefore. It is widespread use. Secondly. Firstly. understanding metaphor will help the student much. Writing is somehow more active than reading. to the Vietnamese’s mind. metaphors help much in the students writing. especially in enriching their vocabularies in order to have more ideas in putting more strength into their language’s expression. writing is a productive skill. 5. the difference in the verbalization between English and Vietnamese is due to the impact of cultural elements. After that.

Last but not least. Later on. after that. using the dictionary to find out the metaphors related to those words as much as possible. without them. those activities should be carried out first. the student themselves can renew their language by adapting or adopting the metaphors. Therefore. how can the teacher help the students realizing the importance of metaphors? Therefore. the teacher also could ask a student draw a picture. asking them to find the metaphors related to any parts of the pictures. However. explain and discuss in the classroom… Those tasks are somehow limited since it seems to be artificial. the teachers’ job is to help the student know that metaphors are understood by the conceptual mind of human beings and can de adapted or adopted.A contrastive Analysis of Vietnamese and English Metaphors they like. 16 .

Ha Noi: Giao Duc Publisher. Tu Vung Hoc Tieng Viet. 20 Dec 2009 <http://elearning. 2007. Nguyen Ngoc.khoaanh. The Philosophy of Rhetoric . Ha Noi: Hanoi: Vietnam National University publisher.php/6/Topic12_Cognitive_Linguisti cs/Conceptual_metaphor_analysis_of_English_and_Vietnamese_b ody_part_idioms. • Oxford English Advanced Learner Dictionary. 1936.2006.net. Oxford: Oxford University Press.A contrastive Analysis of Vietnamese and English Metaphors References • Chau. Doan Thien Thuat. and Nguyen Minh Thuyet. • Vu. • Giap. 2008.wikipedia. A S Hornby. Inov Armstrong. 20 Dec 2009 <http://en.khoaanh. “Conceptual metaphor analysis of English and Vietnamese body part idioms”. Nguyen Thien. Tu vung Hoc Tieng Viet. • Giap. Nguyen Thien. 1948 • Richards. Ha Noi: Giao Duc Publisher. 17 December 2009. Elearning.net/file.pdf > • Wikipedia. 7th Ed.org/wiki/Conceptual_metaphor > 17 . Do Huu. Dan Luan Ngon Ngu Hoc. Oxford: Oxford University Press. “Conceptual metaphor”.

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