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Doing Things with Metaphors in Contemporary China

Analysing the Use of Creative Metaphors in the Discourse on the Chinese Dream

Beatrice Gallelli    Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia, Italia    



The ‘Chinese dream’ sums up China’s goals in the twenty-first century. Since its first appearance in 2012, the concept of the Chinese dream has been the core of Xi Jinping’s “new thoughts, new ideas and new arguments”. At the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China it was elevated as one of the guiding principles of ‘Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era’, which represents the latest effort towards the Sinicization of Marxism. This paper aims at casting light on whether the discourse on the Chinese dream carries new contents or is based on old concepts ‘camouflaged’ as new. To do so, it will analyse the ideological implications of those ‘creative metaphors’ that compose the discursive mosaic of the Chinese dream as used by Xi Jinping in his political speeches. Drawing on the studies on conceptual metaphors and frame analysis, this study analyses those metaphorical expressions that are purposely outlined in the transcription of the speeches with the aim of signaling the originality of “Xi’s language style”. The final aim is to provide insight into what these ‘creative metaphors’ are doing in contemporary China. Results show that ‘creative metaphors’ in the discourse on the Chinese dream are meant to set the agenda on revitalising morality within the Party as well as ‘unifying’ values in today’s Chinese society, and most of them are far from being new in Chinese political discourse.

Dec. 6, 2018
July 16, 2018
July 6, 2018

Keywords: Xi JinpingMetaphorsChinese official discourseFrame analysisChinese dream

Copyright: © 2018 Beatrice Gallelli. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.