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Unlocking Some of the Secrets of the Heart: A View on Conceptual
Gisele Wemeck Divardin

However, after studying them in an attempt to identify their metaphorical inspiration, we have come to the conclusion that they were generated from the same conceptual metaphor THE HEART IS A CONTAINER for emotions and people who are the object of our love and affection. There are many other expressions such as these in the two languages, which, in sharing the same motivation, characterize this conception as pervasive and very productive. Much more could be said about this conceptual metaphor that generated the sentences above, but it is not our intention in this workshop to discuss details about them, but simply demonstrate that conventional language can be studied in a more systematic and meaningful way. Let it be pointed out that if we accept the premise that metaphors also shape the way we see things in the world, conceptual metaphors will not only help our students to make sense of conventional language, but also have the further advantage of introducing them to the culture-specific differences in language since metaphors can be different across cultures (Ponterotto, 1994).

In my study, which involved the examination of 238 expressions in English and 218 in Portuguese, 11 conceptual metaphors were identified. However, for the purpose of this workshop, as far as the word heart in its figurative use in both languages is concerned, I will limit myself to an exercise (to be presented later on) in which the audience will have some hands-on experience of unlocking some of the secrets of the heart.

ACTIVITIES PRESENTED IN THE WORKSHOP

TASK 1: Literal and non-literal meanings

- Look at these pairs of sentences. Decide which contains the literal and which the non-literal use of the words in bold:

1a I’ve lost my car keys.
1b I’ve lost my confidence.

2a I picked up a few bargains at the market on Saturday.
2b I can’t pick up my suitcase. There is too much in it.

3a We can’t sit here. The ground is too wet.
3b This idea will never get off the ground.

4a So, what is your side of the story?
4b Somebody put a scratch right down the side of my car.

5a I don’t know what I have done to my back. It really hurts when I bend.
5b Have you been talking about me behind my back?

TASK 2: What is the conceptual metaphor?

- Match the idiomatic expressions on the left with the metaphors on the right:

1.I simply cannot afford more than a week off.
2.You win some, you lose some.
3.He had a constant stream of visitors.
4.I think I am in a rut.
5.Carry on but keep your head down.
6.We are going to have to weather the storm.
7.He was a bit hazy about the amount.
8.I just don’t see the point.
a. Moods are weather.
b.A company is a ship.
c. Life is gambling.
d. People are liquid.
e. Seeing is understanding.
f. Business is war.
g. Time is money.
h. Life is a journey.

TASK 3: Look at the following sentences in Portuguese and in English which have the word heart/coração in its figurative sense and group them according to the conceptual metaphors.

A alegria era tanta que não cabia no coração.
Edward was a lighthearted man.
Ela disputa com Lucinha o coração de Salviano.
Give me your heart and I’ll make you happy.
I still haven’t found anyone that really makes my heart flutter.
I still remember the poems I had to learn by heart.
I wish you the best from the bottom of my heart.
My heart is overflowing with happiness.
Quem conhece os segredos do coração?
Sua beleza atingiu o mais frio dos corações.
Sua imagem ficará gravada para sempre no meu coração.
The heart of the town.
Rick Martin ocupa o posto n.1 no meu coração.
You’re the tenant of my heart.
Quem vê cara não vê coração.

1.THE HEART IS THE EPICENTER OF EMOTIONS
2.THE HEART IS THE SITE OF MEMORY
3.THE HEART IS A CONTAINER FOR THE EMOTIONS
4.THE HEART IS THE CENTER
5.THE HEART IS A CONTAINER FOR THE BELOVED
6.THE HEART IS A VALUABLE OBJECT
7.TRUTH IS IN THE HEART
8.THE HEART IS THE PERSON

TASK 4: Making sense of phrasal verbs
- Fill in the adverbial particles up and down of the phrasal verbs in the following sentences:

1.Cheer _____, all the troubles are over now.
2.I want to bring _____the question of abortion now.
3.The dog has chewed _____my new shoes.
4.We were held _____on the road by a nasty traffic accident.
5.Make sure that you put_____every word she says.
6.Please turn the radio _____. I would like to hear the news.
7.I think it’s time to wind_____this meeting – we are all tired now.
8. It takes a while to quiet_____ the students after the break.
9. Sales are picking_____this month.
10. Speak_____.I can’t hear you.
11.You’re not going out unless you drink_____your milk.
12.We finally narrowed______the list of candidates to three.

4A Sort out the above phrasal verbs into the following conceptual metaphors:

HAPPY IS UP
COMPLETION IS UP
MORE IS UP
LESS IS DOWN
OBSTRUCTION IS UP
WRITTEN IS DOWN
UNKNOWN IS UP

CONCLUSION

The theory by Lakoff and Johnson elevated metaphor from a purely linguistic level to a cognitive one, which allowed us to look at conventional expressions – be they metaphorical or literal (a classical distinction that has been undermined by their theory) – with new eyes. In the words of Ponterotto (1994), “they demonstrate that metaphor is not a “special” use of language but pervades all interaction.

Therefore, expressions with the word coração, in Portuguese, and heart, in English, that at first glance seemed to belong to a chaotic universe, largely disparate because they elicit different images that are now looked upon as sentences that have something in common – the conceptual metaphor that generated them – and, therefore, can be grouped together. It is very likely that many other expressions, in both languages, come into existence on the basis of the conceptual metaphors revealed e.g. the heart of the family, coração do filme, pessoas que se hospedam no coração, Be still, my heart, take my heart back. That phenomenon corroborates the generative potential of the conceptual metaphors that resulted from my study and provide strong evidence that these conceptual metaphors as well as the others presented in this workshop are likely to continue generating new expressions that will certainly be immediately understood by a person who comes across them for the first time because they will be but “surface forms of already existent and deeply ingrained subjacent conceptions” (Bowles, 1995).

The exercises handed out to the audience were meant to give ideas of activities that can be used in the classroom to sensitize learners to the concept of metaphor and its function as an acquisition device in allowing and motivating the students to continue to collect expressions they meet outside the classroom because, due to the generative potential of the conceptual metaphors discussed above, new sentences are created all the time. We all know very well that vocabulary learning, and that includes conventional language, which constitutes much of the language of the effective language user, is a large part of the work when studying a language. Therefore, it is our responsibility, as teachers, to introduce our students to a variety of methods and activities for vocabulary learning, such as that of grouping conventional expressions under the same conceptual metaphor, that not only help them to continue learning outside the classroom, but also equip them with one more valuable, handy tool in making expressions more meaningful and therefore more likely to be remembered and recalled for use at the appropriate time. Hopefully, students, with a great deal of these expressions at their disposal, will be able to increase their communicative power.

Last but not least, we cannot forget that metaphors shape the way we think about the world and therefore the way we behave in relation to it. Negative metaphors can undermine our potential. Think of your teaching career as a journey of discovery and changes rather than as a daily battle.

REFERENCES

Bowles, H.L. (1997). Arqueologia da Censura. Publicatio UEPG–Ciências Humanas, 5, (1), 1997, 171-190.
Bowles, H.L. (1995). Metaphors of Fire and Ice. v.1,2,3. Dissertation (Doctoral), Universidade de São Paulo.
Deignan, A.; Gabrys, D.; Solska, A. (1997). Teaching English metaphors using cross-linguistic awareness-raising activities. ELT Journal, .51 (4), 352-360.
Divardin, G.W. (2000). Unlocking the Secrets of the heart – um estudo da representação da palavra coração no sistema conceitual das línguas inglesa e portuguesa através de expressões metafóricas convencionais, Dissertacão (Mestrado), Universidade Federal do Paraná.
Kovecses, Zoltán.(1986). Metaphors of Anger, Pride and Love: a lexical approach to the structure of concepts. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Lakoff, G.; Johnson, Mark. (1980). Metaphors We Live By.Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Lima, P.L.C. (1995). Usando a Cabeça. Dissertação (Mestrado), Universidade Estadual do Ceará.
Ponterotto, D. (1994). Metaphors We Can Learn By. Forum, 32 (3), 2-7.
Wrigh, John. (1999). Idioms Organizer: organized by metaphor, topic and key word. England: LTP.

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