Time Is Water: A Metaphorical Conceptualization of Time in Chinese

Hongxiao WANG, Phyllis Wilcox

Abstract


A conceptualization of abstract time in Chinese can be instantiated by ‘Time is Water’. Time is universally important in a human being’s daily life, yet it is conceptually abstract. This abstraction of time can be understood through the concept of metaphor. Although the English and Chinese languages share many metaphorical conceptions of time, there is one particular metaphor in China that is not as commonly instantiated in English – Time Is Water. Three reasons can be provided for the conceptualization of this metaphor and will be discussed in this paper: water is one of the five basic elements in Chinese philosophy; conceptualization of time as water in Chinese is quite systematic and time and water share many similarities; Confucius’ words have a great effect for the metaphor of time as water to be pervasive in Chinese. Cultural understandings of the Chinese people will be shown to impact their language production through metaphorical conceptualization.


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/n

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