A Cross-Cultural Study of Conceptual Metaphors in The Kite Runner and To Kill a Mockingbird

Document Type: Original Article

Authors

1 M.A. in TEFL, Department of English Language, Faculty of Letters & Humanities, Shahrekord University, Iran

2 Associate Professor in Applied Linguistics, Department of English Language, Faculty of Letters & Humanities, Shahrekord University, Iran

Abstract

The goal of this study was to compare the use of conceptual metaphors in English novels written by native and nonnative writers of English. Therefore, two novels were selected: To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee, a native English writer, and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, a nonnative English writer. To find the instances of conceptual metaphors in each book, approximately 10% of the pages of each novel was randomly selected and examined line by line based on the framework introduced by Lakoff and Johnson (1980). In the next step, to find the number and type of metaphors used in each book, the identified metaphors were categorized under their underlying concepts and counted. Then, the frequencies of different types of metaphors in each book were tallied and tabulated, and with the use of a chi-square test, the possible differences among the 2 writers’ use of different types of metaphors were found. Results indicated that, in both novels, there were significant differences among the 5 types of metaphors that were identified, namely structural metaphors, ontological metaphors, orientational metaphors, metonymy, and personification. Findings revealed that, in both books, ontological metaphors were the most frequently used type and personification was the least frequently used one. Also, no statistically significant difference was seen between the two writers’ use of the different types of metaphors. Findings are claimed to bear some implications for L2 pedagogy, benefiting teachers, syllabus designers, writers, and L2 learners.

Keywords

Introduction

According to Wright (2002), using language has two sides: We either use language in a literal way or in a metaphorical way, but we should notice that the latter way is more common. There are two different views regarding the conception of metaphor. The first one, the traditional view, is the most common conception of metaphor among both scholars and the lay people and can be characterized by five features: First, metaphor is a property of words and expressions; second, it is only used for artistic and rhetorical purposes; third, it is based on similarities between the two entities being compared; fourth, it is a deliberate act and needs special talents; and fifth, it is a figure of speech that we can do perfectly well without and has a minor effect on human communication (Kövecses, 2002).

On the other hand, the second view is called the cognitive view and was first proposed by Lakoff and Johnson in 1980 in their seminal book Metaphors We Live By. This view of metaphor challenges the traditional position by claiming that (1) metaphor is not a property of words, but concepts; (2) it is not just used for artistic purposes and has the function of better understanding certain concepts through more tangible ones; (3) it is mostly not based on resemblance between entities; (4) it does not need special talents and is used by ordinary people with no special effort; and (5) its function is not just to decorate language and is pervasive in everyday language, thought, and action (Kövecses, 2002).

Lakoff and Johnson (1980) assert that our conceptual system, which we are not normally aware of and plays a key role in determining our everyday realities, is metaphorical in nature. Also, metaphor, which is an impartible part of our everyday thinking and acting processes, is considered to be a means of understanding and experiencing one concept in terms of another.

There are two domains involved in a metaphor: The source domain, which is the concept that we use to understand and experience the other concept, and the target domain, which is the concept being understood in terms of the source domain. There are a set of fixed correspondences, or mappings, between these two domains which connect the basic constituent elements of the source domain and those of the target domain (Kövecses, 2002). According to Danesi (1992), metaphorical competence is the knowledge of how a language reproduces concepts through metaphorical structuring. These kinds of mappings, which are present in every language, are part of the unconscious knowledge possessed by native speakers of that language. He also believes that metaphorical competence is almost as important as grammatical and communicative proficiencies.

 

According to Lakoff and Johnson (1980), “since communication is based on the same conceptual system that we use in thinking and acting, language is an important source of evidence for what that system is like” (p. 8). Therefore, in recent years, there has been an increasing number of corpus studies (e.g., Bisang, Hock, & Winter, 2006; McGlone, 2007; Stern, 2000) conducted to detect various phenomena related to metaphor, some of which (e.g., Pérez, 2008; Sharifian, 2008; Siahaan, 2008) have focused on comparing metaphors between two or more languages, and some others (e.g., Oruc, 2009; Tay, 2017) have studied metaphors used in one language.

However, despite the importance of metaphorical language use, in a great number of research studies (e.g., Cho & Lee, 2016; Ellis, 1985; Ishikawa, 2018) conducted in the area of L1 and L2, there are very few cases, to the best of the present researcher’s knowledge, of research aimed at investigating the amount of metaphorical language use that native speakers or nonnative speakers of English apply in their texts and of the authenticity of the texts written by nonnative speakers of English in comparison to those written by native speakers.

In addition, despite the fact that metaphors are pervasive in our daily communication system and need to be taught to L2 learners of English, they have gained little attention in L2 contexts (Hashemian & Talebinezhad, 2007). Therefore, there might be a gap between how the native speakers of English use conceptual metaphors in their communication and how nonnatives do.

In this perspective, the purpose of the present study was to investigate the conceptual metaphors used in written texts produced by native and nonnative writers of English. The specific focus was on the works of literature, as they mirror the figurative language of the producer in the best manner. With regard to the fact that language can be taken as a source of evidence for how the conceptual system works, the present study sought to find answers to the following question:                                         

  • What is the difference between conceptual metaphors used in novels written by native and nonnative writers of English?

 

Literature Review

Nurul and Sabriah (2013) did a comparative study of cat metaphors in Malay and English proverbs. According to them, to provide rich metaphorical expressions, one very useful source domain is the kingdom of animals. The similarities and close relationship between human beings and animals have paved the way to make use of animals to comprehend other kinds of entities. Their study focused on the use of cat metaphors in the two specified languages and aimed to investigate the similarities and differences between the meanings attributed to those metaphors used by speakers of English and Malay. The data comprised any proverb that contained the word cat with the exclusion of simile-like structures in Malay. They were selected from Malay and English online databases as well as printed sources. The study was conducted with a qualitative approach and the data were analyzed based on the theory proposed by Lakoff and Johnson (1980), namely the conceptual metaphor theory. They specified their framework to the great chain of being (GCB). The findings revealed that there are some common meanings among English and Malay cat-related metaphors and that the examined data showed a different perspective from what Lakoff and Turner (1989) proposed for cats. The results also illustrated that using animals in the source domain of proverbs conveys meanings related to their hierarchical order in the GCB.

In a research done by Deignan and Potter (2004), one claim of the conceptual metaphor theory concerning metaphors as being grounded in bodily experiences was examined in a large computerized corpus of English and Italian to find out if the theory could explain nonliteral lexical items from the field of human body. This study found out that a great number of expressions combined metaphor and metonymy to generate meaning. The results suggested that for cultural and linguistic reasons, a universal bodily experience will not necessarily result in equivalent figurative expressions in different languages.

Conducting a corpus-based study, Charteris-Black and Musolff (2003) compared the cognitive and pragmatic/rhetorical dimensions of metaphorical use in the reporting of the euro between the English and German press during a period of turbulent financial trading, September to November, 2000. There were two corpora of equal size selected and used for data collection. For the English section of the study, a corpus of 47 articles were collected that discussed the euro published in the Financial Times in Britain. As for the German section, the corpus contained 63 articles discussing the euro published in the Financial Times Deutschland in Germany. These materials were selected because the articles they provided were stylistically and thematically comparable in the two selected languages. The results showed some kind of shared patterns of financial reporting in English and German. They indicated that metaphors describing euro trading through (1) up/down movement (e.g., an upturn in the euro; the euro fell) and (2) health (e.g., the ailing euro; a strong currency) were a typical feature of financial reporting between the two selected languages. On the other hand, there were also some differences detected in the two analyzed corpora. The English financial reporting made use of the conceptual metaphor Euro Trading Is Combat,in which euro was regarded as an active agent. However, in the German reporting, euro was characterized as a passive receiver of actions imposed by commercial institutions.

Leavy, McSorley, and Bote (2007) compared 124 Irish and American preservice teachers’ beliefs about the process of teaching and learning through metaphor construction on starting teacher education programs and the subsequent analysis of the probable changes that were brought about as a consequence of their involvement in the normal teaching practices of the associated teaching programs. Following Martinez, Sauleda, and Huber (2001), the researchers categorized metaphors of teaching and learning into: behaviorist/empiricist, cognitivist/constructivist, and situative or sociohistorical metaphors. When the metaphors constructed on entry to teacher programs were analyzed, the results indicated that 49% of the participants preferred behaviorist metaphors, 24% constructivist metaphors, and only 9% situative metaphors. Most of the teachers who were studied in this research considered teaching and learning as a process of accumulation of knowledge by making new associations, L2 teachers’ role as a transmitter of skills, knowledge as a product, and L2 learners as the receivers of knowledge. However, after the program, there was a dramatic reversal in this view and the proportion of metaphors classified as constructive had increased. Those teachers involved in the program had come to realize that learning was the process of social construction of knowledge, that L2 learners were active constructors of this knowledge, and that the teacher had only the role of a facilitator.

Liardét (2018) investigated Chinese EFL learners’ use of evaluation and stance in academic texts through exploration of their deployment of interpersonal grammatical metaphors (IGM), which is a construct mapped within Halliday’s systematic functional linguistics (SFL; e.g.,I believe it is evident). This study employed an integrated SFL, corpus-assisted methodology to investigate Chinese EFL learners’ development of IGM during two years of university study in Mainland China. The analyzed corpus here was the Chinese Longitudinal Learner Corpus (CLLC), which is a specialized database of 130 students’ argumentative essays, collected during two years of university study in an English language degree, starting from their very first week of enrollment. There are four subcorpora included in the CLLC, representing each of the first four semesters with a total of four texts written by each of the 130 participants. The examination of texts from each corpora was conducted using a corpus-assisted methodology, beginning with employing a manual analysis of a sample corpus (i.e., 50 pages) to specify forms of interpersonal metaphor, followed by a concordance analysis of the specified forms in all the 130 texts for each subcorpus. As a mixed-method study, the quantitative analysis of variation and frequency provided insight into the learners’ expanding paradigmatic repertoire during the two years and the qualitative description of metaphorical enrichment, which referred to the degree and quality of meaning, revealed a nuanced mapping of learner development. The researchers found out that the Chinese EFL learners preferred subjective interpersonal metaphors over other types. In addition, the participants showed preference for hedging their evaluation with multiple co-occurring subjective metaphors. However, this distinctive preference for subjective forms decreased across the four semesters. The participants also showed increasing reliance upon contracting metaphors during the four semesters. Also, their use of objective projecting clauses almost tripled during this period. In the end, Liardét (2018) concludes that the increase in the frequency of objective metaphors accompanied by the decrease in subjective realizations indicated that the Chinese EFL learners were developing gradually and moving toward more enriched interpersonal metaphors.

In a corpus-based study, Charteris-Black and Ennis (2001) compared the use of linguistic metaphors and conceptual metaphors in a corpus extracted from different English and Spanish financial newspaper reports published at a time of rapid market movement and unusual trading conditions: The October 1997 stock market crash. Two corpora were used for the comparison which were nearly equal in size and were taken from similar types of texts, namely newspaper reports on business and financial matters. The English corpus consisted of 16 articles selected from the online version of The Times (London) published from 24th October to 2nd November 1997. The corpus consisted of 12,500 words with 288 instances of metaphor. The Spanish corpus consisted of business and financial reports published by El Diaro and Estrategia in Santiago, Chile, over the same period. The corpus size was 12,250 words with 350 instances of metaphor. In this study, the words or expressions with a primary physical meaning that were used to describe an abstract process were counted as metaphor. For example, in the sentence The attack on the Hong Kong dollar seemed dangerous; the word attack is used based on the conceptual metaphor Trading Is Physical Conflict. The findings showed that although there was considerable similarity between the two languages in terms of conceptual metaphor, there were subtle differences in terms of metaphor preference in terms of linguistic expression. Also, the differences in the frequencies of particular linguistic metaphors were noticed. According to these researchers, these similarities and differences might point to a considerable overlap between cultural identity between speakers of the two selected languages and also similarity in their economic systems and their sociocultural differences.

In a corpus-based study, Aliakbari and Khosravian (2013) investigated three Iranian proverbs books for the distribution of color terms in Persian proverbs and their metaphorical reflection in the users’ beliefs, ideas, or values. The corpus consisted of three books: The Best Persian Proverbs by Salahshour (1994), The Famous Proverbs of Iran by Soheili (2005), and Persian Proverbs by Sarvari Fakhr (2006). These books were selected based on availability and recommendation provided by several Persian literature professors. Among the 4710 proverbs included in the corpus, only 56 of them contained color terms. The researchers held a quantitative analysis to find out the number of colors included in the proverbs. Subsequently, to investigate the conceptualization of colors within the proverbs, two Master students of Persian literature evaluated what the metaphors conceptualized. In case of conflict, another rater would also give his idea. The raters would also provide opinions about the positive and negative attribute of the included colors in the selected proverbs. The results indicated that black, with the frequency of 26, was the most frequently used color and violet,with the frequency of one, was the least common. As for the questions of conceptualization and connotations, the researchers listed a number of attributes associated with each color. For instance, black was found to be primarily associated with something evil and also with calamity, sorrow, and shame. They also concluded that green and red are often considered as positive; black yellow, and violet as negative; and white as both positive and negative in metaphorical use.

Also, Hashemian and Talebiezhad (2007) conducted a research study to examine the development of conceptual fluency and metaphorical competence in Persian EFL learners. In the first phase of the study, the main group which consisted of 139 juniors majoring in English were tested via Oxford Placement Test (OPT). Then, a pretest was given to them to test their conceptual fluency and they were asked to write a paragraph to assess the metaphorical density of their written discourse. After that, they were given some instructions regarding the metaphorical language of English during six months. In the second phase of the study, the conceptual fluency of the comparison group, consisting of 95 freshmen, 92 sophomores, and 90 seniors was tested and compared to that of the juniors to see whether four years of study had any effect on their conceptual fluency development. Also, they were each asked to write a paragraph to assess the metaphorical density of their written discourse. In addition, 23 native speakers of English were asked to write a paragraph each, and the metaphorical density of their writings was tallied. The results of the posttest indicated that after the participants were taught about metaphors, the metaphorical density of their written discourse was almost as much as that of the native speakers. Therefore, they concluded that conceptual fluency and metaphorical competence could be developed in a classroom setting.

In a corpus-based study, Kathpalia and Carmel (2011) analyzed 113 samples of written texts produced by first-year science and art students at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore to identify the problems of ESL learners of English in using collocations in their writings. Their aim was to draw the attention of English teachers to the importance of teaching metaphorical language to ESL learners. The results indicated that students tried to use a range of metaphors, such as grammatical, illocutionary, textual, and sociolinguistic in their written texts; however, they were unidiomatic and needed to be developed to maintain fluency in the target language

Arif and Abdullah (2017) conducted a research to investigate secondary school Iraqi EFL learners’ metaphorical comprehension in L1 and its effect on the metaphorical comprehension in L2 utilizing the conceptual metaphor theory by Lakoff and Johnson (1980) and linguistic interdependence hypothesis by Cummins (1979). First, they prepared a questionnaire with two parts: the demographic part that tested the participants’ background and the part which contained 30 Arabic and 30 English metaphorical proverbs. The questionnaire was given to 252 Iraqi learners, and each participant had to choose the correct meaning of the proverb among four options. The findings indicated that those who were more skilled in Arabic metaphor proved to be more skilled in English metaphor.

Despite the great amount of importance attached to metaphor, evident in the amount of research conducted in the area of L1 and L2, there are almost no cases, to the best of the present researcher’s knowledge, of research studies aimed at comparing the use of metaphor by native and nonnative writers of English. Therefore, the purpose of the present study is to find out whether there are any differences between native and nonnative writers of English in the use of conceptual metaphors.

 

Method

Materials

For this study, two sets of linguistic data were collected from the investigation of two novels written in English: One set from the novel To Kill a Mockingbird which is a Bildungsroman,a literary genre which has its concentration on the psychological and ethical growth of the protagonist from youth to adulthood,written by Harper Lee (1960), an American novelist. The other set from The Kite Runner, another Bildungsroman novel written in English by an Afghan-born American novelist named Khaled Hosseini (2003). The selection of these novels was based on their genres and dates of publication. 

To Kill a Mocking Bird

One of the books investigated in this study was the Pulitzer Prize winning novel To Kill a Mocking Bird, written by Harper Lee (1960). The novel, which has become a classic of modern American literature, has its plot and characters loosely based on the author’s childhood experiences and observations. The story is narrated by the six-year-old Jean Louis Finch and takes place during the Great Depression years between 1933 and 1935 in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama. She lives with her brother Jeremy and their lawyer father Atticus. The two siblings, accompanied by their friend Dill, are attracted to their neighbor, the reclusive Arthur Boo Radley, and have adventures trying to befriend him (To Kill a Mockingbird, n.d.).

This Southern Gothic and Bildungsroman novel has the primary themes of racial injustice and the destruction of innocence. It also addresses issues of courage, class, compassion, and gender roles in the American Deep South (To Kill a Mockingbird, n.d.).

 

The Kite Runner

Another book investigated in this study was The Kite Runner, a novel by the Afghan-born American novelist Khaled Hosseini (2003). The Kite Runner is Hosseini’s first novel and was first published in 2003. The novel tells the story of Amir, who is a young boy from Wazir Akbar Khan district of Kabul and has s friend named Hassan. The story contains the time when Afghanistan’s monarchy falls through the Soviet military intervention and the Taliban regime rises. Hosseini considers his novel to be a father-son story, emphasizing the familial aspect of the narrative. Its primary themes are guilt and redemption, which feature prominently in the novel. In the latter half of the book, Amir’s attempt to rescue Hassan’s son two decades later is pictured, which shows his effort to compensate for being unable to prevent a sexual assault that happened to Hassan two decades earlier. Despite some parallels between the story and Hosseini’s own life, he has announced that the plot is fictional (The Kite Runner, n.d.).

 

 

Procedure

At the first stage of this study, approximately 10% of each of the two chosen books (28 pages in To Kill a Mockingbird and 32 pages in The Kite Runner) was selected and examined line by line to find instances of metaphors in them using the framework introduced by Lakoff and Johnson in their 1980 book Metaphors We Live by.

According to Lakoff and Johnson (1980), metaphor is when one concept is understood in terms of another. In other words, conceptual metaphors project systematic mappings across conceptual domains, that is, one domain of experience called the source domain is mapped onto another source of experience called the target domain.

In the book Metaphors We Live by, Lakoff and Johnson (1980) introduced five types of metaphor. The first type, structural metaphor, occurs when one concept is structured in terms of another, such as Argument Is War, Time Is Money, and Theories Are Buildings. The second type, which organizes a whole system of concepts with respect to one another, is called orientational metaphor because it mostly deals with spatial orientations: in-out, up-down, deep-shallow, on-off, front-back, and central-peripheral. This type of metaphor gives a concept a spatial orientation; for example, Conscious Is Up, Unconscious Is Down; More Is Up, Less Is Down; and High Status Is Up, Low Status Is Down. The third type is ontological metaphor, in which we understand our experiences in terms of objects and substance that will allow us to group them, refer to them, and quantify them. Some examples are Inflation Is an Entity, Mind Is a Brittle Object, and Visual Fields Are Containers. The fourth category, which can be considered as an extension of ontological metaphors, is personification. In personification, a physical object is specified as being a person, such as Inflation Is an Adversary and Life Is a Person. According to Kövecses (2002), personification, which gives human qualities to nonhuman things, such as theories, inflation, and disease, is a metaphorical device and an aspect of poetic language that plays an important role in literature. Yet in the fifth category, metonymy, one entity is used to refer to another entity that is related to it. Examples of metonym are The Part for the Whole, Object Used for User, and Producer for Product.  

After the metaphors used in each book were identified with respect to the framework introduced by Lakoff and Johnson (1980), they were listed and classified according to their underlying conceptual metaphors under the five categories mentioned above. Following Lakoff and Johnson’s model (1980), the relationship was demonstrated in the form of A (target domain) Is B (source domain).

In the next step, the metaphors used by the native and nonnative writers of English were counted and compared with regard to their number and type. After identifying the metaphors in the two selected novels and categorizing them based on their underlying concepts, the frequencies of different types of conceptual metaphors used in each book were tallied and tabulated. Afterwards, chi-square was employed to see if there were any differences in the use of conceptual metaphors among the different types of metaphors and between the native and nonnative writers of the two novels.

Results

Metaphors in To Kill a Mocking Bird

As shown in Table 1, among the five different types of conceptual metaphors employed by the native English writer in To Kill a Mocking Bird, ontological metaphors (f = 137, p = 59.05%) were the most frequently used type of metaphors, whereas personification (f = 9, p = 3.87%) formed the least frequently used type of conceptual metaphors. There were 34 instances of structural metaphors (14.65%), 33 occurrences of orientational metaphors (14.22%), and there were 19 metaphors representing metonymy (8.18%):

      Table 1

      Frequencies of Different Types of Metaphor in To Kill a Mocking Bird

Types of Conceptual Metaphors

Frequency

Percentage

Structural metaphors

34

14.65%

Ontological metaphors

137

59.05%

Orientational metaphors

33

14.22%

Metonymy

19

8.18%

Personification

9

3.87%

Total

232

100%

 

As it could be seen in Table 2, the p value under the Asymp. Sig. column was smaller than the alpha level of significance (.000 < .05), indicating that there was a statistically significant difference among the five different types of conceptual metaphors found in the book To Kill a Mocking Bird.

Table 2

Results of Chi-Square Comparing Different Types of Metaphor in To Kill a Mocking Bird

 

Observed N

Expected N

Residual

Chi-Square

df

Asymp. Sig.

Structural metaphors

34

46.4

-12.4

230.41

4

.000

Ontological metaphors

137

46.4

90.6

Orientational metaphors

33

46.4

-13.4

Metonymy

19

46.4

-27.4

Personification

9

46.4

-37.4

Total

232

-

-

 

Some instances of the metaphors in this text are as follows:

 

Argument Is War

“State will not prejudice the witness against counsel for the defense,” murmured Judge Taylor primly, “at least not at this time.”

 

This metaphor shows that we can think and talk about ARGUMENTS in terms of WAR. We see the person we are arguing with as an opponent and we attack his position. We can actually win or lose an argument. Meanwhile, there might be cultures where arguments are viewed in terms of other things, such as a dance. Yet, in the English culture, the concept of ARGUMENT is viewed in terms of the concept of WAR.

 

Time Is Money

Miss Maudie hated her house: Time spent indoors was time wasted.

 

In modern Western culture, TIME is a valuable commodity and a limited resource that we use to accomplish our goals. In this culture, work is associated with the time it takes and people are paid by the hour, week, or year. Therefore, the abstract concept of TIME can be understood in terms of the concrete concept of MONEY.

 

Visual Field Is a Container

Maycomb Junction and Dill waved to us from the train window until he was out of sight.

           

This is a natural metaphor that emerges from the fact that when you look at some territory (land, floor, space, etc.), your field of vision defines a boundary of territory for the part that you can see. This bounded physical space is viewed as a container.

 

Metaphors in The Kite Runner

As observed in Table 3, among the five different types of conceptual metaphors employed by the nonnative English writer, ontological metaphors (f = 118, p = 61.45%) were the most frequently used type of metaphors, whereas personification (f = 7, p = 3.64%) was found to be the least frequently used type of conceptual metaphors, and this is much the same as the result found for the native writer of English. There were 27 instances of structural metaphors (14.06%), 19 occurrences of orientational metaphors (9.89%), and 21 metaphors relating to metonymy (10.93%):

       Table 3.

       Frequencies of Different Types of Metaphor in The Kite Runner

Types of Conceptual Metaphors

Frequency

Percentage

Structural metaphors

27

14.06%

Ontological metaphors

118

61.45%

Orientational metaphors

19

9.89%

Metonymy

21

10.93%

Personification

7

3.64%

Total

192

100%

 

Table 4 reveals that the p value under the Asymp. Sig. column was smaller than the alpha level of significance (.000 < .05), which means that there were statistically significant differences among the five different types of conceptual metaphors used in the book The Kite Runner.

      Table 4.

      Results of Chi-Square Comparing Different Types of Metaphor in The         

      Kite Runner

 

Observed N

Expected N

Residual

Chi-Square

df

Asymp. Sig.

Structural metaphors

27

38.4

-11.4

211.75

4

.000

Ontological metaphors

118

38.4

79.6

Orientational metaphors

19

38.4

-19.4

Metonymy

21

38.4

-17.4

Personification

7

38.4

-31.4

Total

192

-

-

 

Some instances of THE metaphors in this text are as the following:

 

Argument Is War

“Well, Amir, you’ve got a tough battle ahead of you.”

 

Time Is Money

But they were wasting their time.

 

Visual Field Is a Container

They would leave with the bag tucked out of sight, sometimes drawing furtive, disapproving glances from those who knew about the store’s reputation for such transactions.

 

Differences Between the Conceptual Metaphors in the Two Novels

To compare the frequencies of the use of different types of conceptual metaphors in the two books, chi-square for independence was employed. The results of this analysis are presented in Tables 5 and 6:

      Table 5.

      Frequencies of Different Types of Metaphor in the Two Books

 

Books

Total

To Kill

a

Mocking Bird

The

Kite

Runner

Types

Structural metaphors

34

27

61

Ontological metaphors

137

118

255

Orientational metaphors

33

19

52

Metonymy

19

21

40

Personification

9

7

16

Total

232

192

424

 

Table 5 shows that in the two books, the highest frequency belonged to ontological metaphors, whereas personification received the lowest frequency. In terms of the other types of conceptual metaphors, the two books used them with roughly the same proportion.

        Table 6.

        Chi-Square Results Comparing Different Types of Metaphor in the

       Two Books

 

 

df

Asymp. Sig.

(2-sided)

Pearson Chi-Square

2.58

4

.62

Likelihood Ratio

2.61

4

.62

Linear-by-Linear Association

.01

1

.90

N of Valid Cases

424

 

 

 

Table 6 shows that the p value under the Asymp. Sig. (2-sided) column across from Pearson chi-square equaled .62 (p > .05), which means that the differences between the frequencies of use of different types of conceptual metaphor by native and nonnative writers in the two texts of To Kill a Mocking Bird and The Kite Runner were not statistically significant.

Discussion and Conclusion

The results of this study indicated the subsequent findings. First, it was found that among the five different types of conceptual metaphors, namely structural metaphors, ontological metaphors, orientational metaphors, metonymy, and personification, that were found in the two books, in the book To Kill a Mocking Bird, which was written by a native speaker of English, ontological metaphors were the most frequently used type of metaphor, whereas personification was the least frequently used type. Second, the results of the chi-square analysis showed that there was a statistically significant difference among the five different types of conceptual metaphors used in the book To Kill a Mocking Bird. Third, similar to what was found about the first book, the results indicated that among the five different types of conceptual metaphors that were employed by the nonnative English writer in the book The Kite Runner, ontological metaphors were the most frequently used type, whereas personification proved to be the least frequently used one. Fourth, a statistically significant difference was observed among the five different types of metaphors used in the book The Kite Runner. Fifth, as indicated by the results, the distribution of different types of metaphors in the two investigated books were approximately similar with reference to their proportion. In other words, no statistically significant difference was observed between the frequencies of the use of different types of conceptual metaphors by native and nonnative writers of English in the two investigated books, namely To Kill a Mocking Bird and The Kite Runner.

There is a possibility that the last finding might be due to the fact that although Khaled Hosseini, the nonnative English writer of The Kite Runner, was born in Afghanistan and lived there up to the age of 11 years old, he moved to America as a teenager at the age of 15 and lived there ever since. Living and studying among native speakers might have had an effect on his metaphorical competence.

To discuss the results of the current study in the light of the relevant literature, it should be mentioned that the results of the present study are compatible with the findings of the study by Hashemian and Talebinezhad (2007). Their findings indicated that those EFL learners who were exposed to and taught about conceptual metaphors in English could produce texts that were almost as metaphorically dense as those of the native speakers.

On the other hand, the findings of this study differ from those of the research done by Kathpalia and Carmel (2011), which had the aim of analysing ESL learners’ written texts to find the type of problems they had with collocations. The findings of their study revealed that although ESL learners try to use different types of metaphors in their writings, these are unidiomatic and need to be worked on for gaining fluency in the target language. This discrepancy between the findings of Kathpalia and Carmel’s (2011) study and the current one might be due to the fact that the nonnative writer of English, whose work was analyzed in this study, had lived many years in an English speaking country from an early age.

Another factor that might be the source of this difference is the participants’ L1 and how much its metaphors are similar to those of English. For instance, in a study that compared dimensions of metaphorical use in the reporting of the euro between the English and German press, Charteris-Black and Musolff (2003) found out that there were some kinds of shared patterns of financial reporting in English and German.

 A different source of variability that might have had an effect on the findings of the present study and the study by Kathpalia and Carmel (2011) is the participants’ L1 metaphorical competence. Arif and Abdullah (2017) conducted a research to see if Iraqi EFL learners’ metaphorical comprehension in L1 had any effect on their metaphorical comprehension in L2. Their findings showed that those participants, who were more skilled in Arabic metaphor, were found to be more skilled in English metaphor.

The similarities and differences in the use of metaphors between the two books might point to a considerable overlap between cultural identity between the native language of the two writers and also similarity in their literary languages and their sociocultural differences, respectively.

According to Bachman (1990), metaphor is the ability to understand cultural orientations and figures of speech under sociolinguistic competence. Therefore, an L2 learner who has developed his metaphorical competence that has a widespread usage in everyday life possesses a good level of intercultural competence, which leads to his or her native-like use of metaphors in his or her L2 communication, including his or her written texts.

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