Exploration of Hakka Animal and Plant Proverbs: On Types of Pragmatic Functions Metaphorical Referents and Cultural Reflections

  • 黃 琮瑄

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


This thesis investigates Hakka people’s language features and cultural reflections through Hakka animal and plant proverbs serving distinct pragmatic functions It further probes into animal/plant vehicles which metaphorically symbolize humans to explore a linguistic phenomenon—semantic change The data are mainly extracted from Hakka proverb books and proverb-related theses analyzed in terms of Conceptual Blending Theory (Fauconnier & Turner 2002) Prototype Theory (Rosch & Mervis 1975) and Qualia Structure (Pustejovsky 1995) The thesis addresses the following issues: (1) What lexical choices and pragmatic functions are displayed in Hakka animal and plant proverbs? (2) How do proverbs with distinct pragmatic functions differ from one another on the basis of conceptual blending prototypical features and qualia structure? (3) What cultural connotations or implications are presented via the analysis of these proverbs? (4) Concerning prototypical effects and semantic change of metaphors what are the social and cultural variations displayed in Hakka community across two generations? The results show that: (1) When it comes to pragmatic functions humor and irony rank the top; as for lexical choices proverbs with similar terms and synonyms appear most frequently Such similar vehicles as chicken and duck when coexisting in one proverb help to raise emphasis or enhance comparison (2) In humorous and ironic proverbs animal vehicles appear more and negative prototypical features are preferred for metaphorical description associated with human traits (3) The most significant connection between Hakka people’s attitudes of life lifestyles and their philosophy of life is the notion of obedience—to nature and social norms in particular which is seen as the core in Hakka people’s culture (4) Though prototypical effects have maintained similar for generations semantic change with regard to metaphorical referents in Hakka proverbs still occurs as a consequence of language contact—such as the prevalent influence from Mandarin Chinese teen operas as well as social development—the progressive industrialization for instance In addition our questionnaire survey reveals a worrying phenomenon that even though the younger generation has familiarity with Hakka proverbs they lack the tendency to use them in daily communication The low frequency of usage highlights the setback of mother-tongue programs in Taiwan; we ought to strive strenuously to promote the utilization of Hakka in the young In sum via the exploration of Hakka animal and plant proverbs we prove cognitive and pragmatic theories applicable and effective approaches We obtain cultural connotations reflected from proverbs and propose that the concept on obedience is the most representative philosophy observed in Hakka society Last but not least the promotion of Hakka mother tongue in younger generation deserves much more endeavor Proverbs are precious cultural heritage and we are with eager anticipation to benefit the preservation and promotion with the present study
Date of Award2014 Feb 7
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorShelley Ching-yu Hsieh(Depner) (Supervisor)

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