Manual Action Metaphors in Chinese
A Usage-Based Constructionist Study
This article examines Chinese manual motor metaphors involving manual object manipulation as the source domain. Specifically, we use corpus data to investigate two transitive constructions, [抓紧 zhuājǐn ‘grab tightly, clutch’ NP] and [把住 bǎzhù ‘grasp firmly’ NP], and a causative construction, [把 bǎ NP 捧 pěng COMPL] ‘lift np with deliberation’, where the referent of the np does not lend itself to manual manipulation in the literal sense and must be interpreted as metaphoric in the unity of semantic domains. Results from both quantitative and qualitative analyses show that the two transitive grasping actions are systematically used to abstract actions requiring a keen sense of urgency and/or importance, and that the causative action of lifting systematically conceptualises over-promotion of an undeserving entity. The findings point to the bodily origin of social cognition and the embodiment of conceptualisation.