Surrounded by bitterness: image schemas and metaphors for conceptualising distress in classical Hebrew

Statement of Responsibility:
King, Philip
Ph.D. Brunel University (London School of Theology)
xiv, 394
This thesis explores the Classical Hebrew concept of ‘distress’ through the Cognitive Linguistic approach of George Lakoff, Mark Johnson, and Zoltán Kövecses. It investigates the conceptual metaphors ancient Hebrew speakers used to conceptualise their distressing experiences through basic embodied experiences. It studies image schemas (recurring patterns of experience) and primary metaphors (such as cognitive links between darkness and distress) which give structure to distressing situations and suggest actions to take. It provides a detailed and descriptive inventory of the main image schemas (verticality, constraint and force) and primary metaphors (darkness and bad taste) reflected in the conventional Hebrew language of distress found in the Psalms, Lamentations, Job and the Hodayot. The first chapter introduces the topic of conventional distress language, arguing that the Cognitive Linguistic approach provides a useful complement to previous studies of the matter. The second chapter describes the theoretical semantic framework, particularly arguing that where it opposes James Barr’s lexical semantics it is nevertheless linguistically justified. Chapters three and four identify a specific corpus of Classical Hebrew texts that refer to situations of distress, and show how these texts are classifiable according to image schemas and metaphors. Chapters five, six and seven present all the examples of conceptualisations of distress based on the verticality, constraint and force schemas, respectively, and compare them to similar metaphors in other languages. They argue that in Classical Hebrew the force schema is the most significant for conceptualising negative experience, and that, further, the constraint schema is both more entrenched and more linguistically elaborated than the constraint schema in English, and than the verticality schema in Hebrew. These chapters establish that forces and constrained situations are more significant for understanding situations of distress than up or down movement. Chapters eight and nine present conceptualisations of distress based on darkness and bad taste, arguing that the way vision and taste are perceived in Hebrew constrains the way distress is understood through metaphor. The conclusion argues that all these metaphors cohere to create a prototypical conceptualisation of distress, whose characteristic features are that it is unexpected by the sufferer, unjustified, and caused by a personal external agent. Moreover, these metaphors highlight that distress is an experience sufferers are unable to relieve by their own means.
A PhD thesis exploring the way distress experiences are conceptualized in Classical Hebrew.
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Table of Contents:
Chapter 1: Conventional Distress Language -- Chapter 2: Culture, Language and Thought -- Chapter 3: Corpus -- Chapter 4: Methodology -- Chapter 5: Distress and the Verticality Schema -- Chapter 6: Distress and the Constraint Schema -- Chapter 7: Distress and the Force Schema -- Chapter 8: Distress and Darkness -- Chapter 9: Distress and the Bad Taste Primary Metaphor -- Chapter 10: Conclusion
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Work Type:
Cognitive studies
image schema
cognitive linguistics
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