A corpus-based study on animal expressions in Mandarin Chinese and German

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Abstract

This study is based on the Corpora of Animal Expressions in Mandarin Chinese and in German. I first apply Goddard's (1998) approach of semantic molecules to examine Cat expressions for the purpose of exploring the semantic interaction and the cultural backgrounds within the form of society. Various acts of speech in the form of animal expressions then reveal people's thoughts. The salient semantic molecules of cat are 'weak' in Mandarin Chinese and 'weak, false, small, unimportant, flattering, quick, shrill' in German; those of tiger are 'powerful, courageous, fierce' in Mandarin Chinese and 'powerful, fierce' in German. It is found that there is an interconnection and interaction between semantic molecules and these animal names serve as semantic contributors in distinct domains, e.g., cat for 'woman' in German. Furthermore, animal expressions demonstrate different mentalities as well as the Mandarin speakers' group-centric and German speakers' individualistic modes of thought.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2206-2222
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Volume38
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Dec

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence

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