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Field: English Language
Code: 60220201


Hanoi, 2017




Field: English Language
Code: 60220201


Hanoi, 2017


I, the undersigned, hereby certify my authority of the study project report
JACKSON submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree
of Master in English Language. Except where the reference is indicated, no
other person’s work has been used without due acknowledgement in the text
of the thesis.
Hanoi, 2017


Approved by

(Signature and full name)


I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the following
people for their great supports during my two-year time for the MA


First and foremost, I would like to express my deep gratitude to
Dr Dang Nguyen

Giang, my supervisor, for his clear guidance,

insightful comments and dutiful supervision.

My deep thanks also go to all the lecturers at Hanoi Open
University for their knowledge, experience and enthusiasm in their
lectures, from which I have acquired valuable knowledge and inspiration
to fulfill this minor thesis.

With the passion for literature and semantics, I am really
interested in the lectures of Prof. Dr. Ho Ngoc Trung and Assoc. Prof.
Dr. Hoang Tuyet Minh which have inspired me to do this study.

I also would like to express my sincere thanks to my family any
many of my friends and colleagues for their valuable sharing and

Finally, my sincere thanks are for the people who will give me the
precious comments after reading the graduation thesis.

Metaphor plays an impotant role in language. It appears in literature,
daily life and music. Particularly, music is considered as bridge to connect
people together. It is the best way to communicate. That is why studying
metaphor is a great idea. With the hope of highlighting the profound
philosophy of human life in songs, this thesis would focus on the conceptual
metaphors in lyrics by Micheal Jackson.
In this thesis, the orientational metaphor and structure metaphor will
analysis clearly.Qualiitative analyzing and contrastive analyzing are used in
this study.
The thesis is limited to the conceptual metaphors in the lyrics by of
Michael Jackson, and the other issues related to cognitive linguistics are
mentioned as a more convenient way to clarify the conceptual metaphor
models within the scope of the subject. Due to the limitation of time and the


author’s ability, there are thirty songs investigated and analyzed in the
present study.

Certificate of originality








1.1 Rationale
1.2 Aims and objectives of the study
1.3. Research questions.
1.4 Methods of the study

1.5 Scope of the study
1.6 Significance of the study
1.7 Design of the study
1.2 Previous studies
2.2 Review of the Theoretical Background
3.1. Orientational Metaphors in Lyrics by Michael Jackson
3.2. Structure metaphor
4.1 Reality of English Teaching and Learning throughthe songs
4.2 English Teaching and Learning through the songs by Micheal Jackson.
4.2 English Teaching and Learning through the songs by Micheal Jackso
5.1 Concluding remarks
5.2 Limitation of the research
5.3 Suggestions for further research




1.1 Rationale
Music plays an important part in our spiritual lives. It is also able to
show its own features in each culture. Different cultures lead to the different
languages; different languages lead to the difference in the cultural behavior,
and metaphor is one part of the language. According to cognitive view,
language is a tool of human cognition, in which, the metaphor is one of the

typical and effective tools. Cognitive linguistics indicates the relationship
between language and psychology. Metaphors do not appear in poetry, but
also play an important role in every utterance.
In Vietnam, cognitive linguistics is a quite new research approach.
However, it has gained many achievements. It can be said that cognitive
linguistics in general, and the conceptual metaphors in particular are getting
the attention of Vietnamese linguists and is a potential and promising
However, among researches on cognitive linguistics, there have not
been any individual studies about conceptual metaphor in lyrics by Michael
Jackson. Michael Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009) was an
American singer, a songwriter, and a dancer. He is called the "King of Pop",
his contributions to music along with his publicized personal life. His
significant music videos include video "Beat it", "Billie Jean" and "Thriller"
from his 1992 album Thriller, these were credited with breaking racial
barriers and transforming the medium into an art form and promotional tool.
He continued to innovate people with videos such as "Black and White" and
"Scream" throughout the 1990s, and forged a reputation as a touring solo
Songs composed by Michael Jackson were significantly known by its
message. Which have big influence into the people around the world in
general and Vietnamese people particular? His lyrics are influenced by love
and compassion. Especially, the songs "We are the world" and "Heal the
World". Michael Jackson used metaphor to express the love and aspiration
for a united fatherland. . Being a songwriter may be not as easy as we just see from
afar. It is difficult todetermine which one is more complicated, being songwriter or being
a singer. However Michael Jackson is like an expert of both. He was the King
of Pop because most of his songs achieved many awards. Therefore he was
one of the most-influential men in the world. He has inspired people through

his songs. He was fantastic skillful songwriter although his life was full of
controversial thins and he was well-known as scandalous artist. Nevertheless
hisworks were enjoyable enough to make people loved him. Most people didn’t care
how perculiar his personality was because his songs were very touching and

The researcher, as an English teacher, author thought that teaching
English through songs make a great interest for the learners.
Moreover, new theory of metaphors suggested by Lakoff has attracted
many other authors and people who study stylistic devices. The researcher
would like to introduce and apply this theory into a new area which is music
Due to the above reasons, "Conceptual metaphors in lyrics by Michael
Jackson" is chosen for my research topic.

1.2 Aims and objectives of the study
Conceptual metaphors are used continually, both intentionally and
unintentionally, in poetic and everyday language (Lakoff & Johnson 1980,
p.3). Song lyrics may often be associated with a more poetic language, but
when analysing lyrics thoroughly metaphorical expressions appear which are
not solely used as rhetorical devices. However, since the language of songs is
somewhat rhetorical and since songs have a rather limited time frame, the
probability of distinguishing numerous metaphorical expressions illustrating
various conceptual metaphors is rather great. This because lyrics are required
to be as concise and straightforward as possible in order for their meaning to
be conveyed properly, and this makes lyrics rather useful in studies of
conceptual metaphors. The aim of this thesis is to find out which conceptual
metaphors are reflected in some of Michael Jackson's song lyrics.

In addition, The aim of the research is also to apply the conceptual
metaphors in teaching and learning English through the songs by Michael
In order to achieve the aims, the study is expected to reach the
following objectives:
- Describing the orientation metaphors employed in the lyrics by
Michael Jackson;
- Uncovering the structural metaphors implicitly indicated in the lyrics
by Michael Jackson.
- Applying the conceptual metaphors employed in the lyrics by Michael
Jackson in English teaching and learning
1.3. Research questions.
The objectives of the study can be elaborated into the research questions as
- How are the orientational metaphors used in the lyrics by Michael
- What structural metaphors are employed in the lyrics by Michael
- How are the conceptual metaphors applied in English teaching and
learning through the songs by Michael Jackson?
1.4 Methods of the study
The study is mainly carried out through the documentary analysis and
descriptive study with the support of qualitative and quantitative approach.
The data is quantitatively analyzed in terms of the percentage of the
occurrence of metaphorical images in all the songs to see the preference for

which sets of expressions as well as frequencies of three types of metaphors:
structural, ontological, and orientational. Through qualitative approach, the
metaphors, after being divided into categories according to the procedure of
transferring meaning from the vehicles to the tenors guided by a theoretical
lens, will be analyzed in details, synthesized and evaluated.
1.5 Scope of the study
The thesis is limited to the conceptual metaphors in the lyrics by of
Michael Jackson, and the other issues related to cognitive linguistics are
mentioned as a more convenient way to clarify the conceptual metaphor
models within the scope of the subject. Due to the limitation of time and the
author’s ability, there are thirty songs investigated and analyzed in the
present study.
1.6 Significance of the study
Theoretically, the research results will confirm the theory of cognitive
linguistics as a believable approach to analyze the language in general and
clarify several issues about the conceptual metaphors through the lyrics by
Michael Jackson in particular. Indeed, conceptual metaphor, which is not just
a figure of speech but also a matter of thinking, is an extremely important
mechanism for people
Practically, the findings of the research, to some extent, are applied to
analyze, evaluate and translate English songs. They help the readers and the
listeners uncover the implicit thinking of Michael Jackson through the lyrics
he use in his songs. By this, we mean that knowledge from this sort of work
will be of great benefit to translators, who should be able to find the possible
equivalents in the target language, and the teachers, who would apply these
kinds of patterns to their semantic teaching periods.
In practical application of the conceptual metaphor in term of the
cognitive objects like emotional, the space time….obtained the result on

different fields, such as poetry, education and special in everyday language.
In addition, the researchers have found a close relationship between
conceptual metaphor and culture, the conceptual metaphor is regarded a door
to understand the mind, human thinking and social characteristics.
This research is performed with the purpose of helping Vietnamese
learners and teacher of English better understand conceptual metaphors in
English songs and then create the suitable tips to apply language flexibly. As
a result, they will be able to learn and teach English effectively. In addition,
it can contribute to the teaching of literature, semantics, cultural linguistics
applied in Vietnamese universities of foreign languages. Especially, the
translators will take the necessary notes when working with metaphors in
the process of translation.
1.7 Design of the study
The research is composed of five chapters:
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Literature Review
Chapter 3: Orientational Metaphors and Structural Metaphors in
Lyrics by Michael Jackson
Chapter 4: Applying the Conceptual Metaphors in English teaching
and learning through the songs Michael Jackson.
Chapter 5: Conclusion


1.2 Previous studies
Up to now, there have been various studies on the metaphor based on
theories of linguistic scholars such as:
1.2.1. “Metaphor we live by” (1980) by Lakoff and Johnson
Lakoff and Johnson are the most remarkable writers with the famous
books on metaphor that introduce the overview and deep knowledge on
metaphor. Of all, ―Metaphor we live byǁ (1980) is most helpful and
worth for the researcher to take as a basic theoretical background for
their thesis. The book has a great influence on our understanding of
metaphor and its role in language and the mind. The authors supply an
afterword surveying how their theory of metaphor has developed within
the cognitive sciences to become central to the contemporary
understanding of how we think and how we express our thoughts in
language. Lakoff and Johnson launch into a stimulating deconstruction


of what they term "conceptual metaphors", and the complex way in
which they interact to structure our experience of reality.

Lakoff sets out to show that metaphors are a fundamental part of our
thought processes whenever we try to think abstractly. His book does
not provide a rigorous scientific proof, but it does present a lot of
evidence in favor of the thesis.
In “Metaphor we live by” , The authors asserted “the common
conceptual system of as basing on it, we both thinking and acting, mainly
have metaphoric in nature”. Besides, there are many authors have
generalized and research metaphors from different view such as: Stylistics
(19), Contexts of metaphor (23). In 1995, Lakoff examined metaphor,
morality and politics in which metaphor has something to do with morality
and conservative politics. In English Guides Metaphor (15), Alice Deignan
studied many English words used metaphorically. Clair (14) did a research
on Visual Metaphor, which is, according to him, a term that shows how
visual space is organized as a mean of sharing cultural and social knowledge.
1.2.2. “A holographic study of metaphors concerning love in Chinese” by
Renying Yang
This work makes a thorough analysis of love metaphors in Chinese. Based
the conceptual study of emotional metaphors by Lakoff, Kovecses and the
others, this paper structures a conceptual metaphor of love in Chinese and
reveals an understanding of its characteristics and cultural models. It also
presents the cultural-specific characteristics by giving a diachronic study of
love metaphors in Chinese
1.2.3. Richard Nordquist on his article “Love is metaphor"

The writer lists 99 metaphors of love in many literature works. These
metaphors come from the real and concrete things in our life such as rose,
star, journey, flame, razor…However, this is only the examples of love
metaphors. The readers expect to have a more specific interpretation on these
kinds of metaphors basing on the theory background.
In Vietnam, Cognitive linguistics has made some contribution to the
development of cognitive linguistics with researchers Lý Toàn Thắng (2005),
Trần Văn Cơ (2007,2009), Nguyễn Đức Tổn (2008) and Nguyễn Văn Hiệp
(2008). Especially, in “Ngôn ngữ học tri nhận : Từ lí thuyết đại cương đến
thực tiễn tiếng Việt” (Cognitive linguistics from general theory to
Vietnamese practical). Conceptual metaphor has been become the research
subject which cognitive study in Vietnam has taken into consideration.
2.2 Review of the Theoretical Background
2.2.1. Metaphors from Traditional View
Metaphor has been traditionally viewed as characteristic of language
as opposed to everyday language. Since the late 1970s , it has become clear
that everyday language is thoroughly suffused with metaphor and that the
proper locus of metaphor is in our conceptual system, where it plays a major
role in characterizing the structure of abstract concepts, permitting us to
understand the logic of abstract concepts in term of logics of more concrete
concepts. Metaphor is secondarily reflected in language, where metaphor
linguistic expressions reflect metaphorical thought.
2.2.2. Metaphors from Cognitive View
George Lakoff and Mark Johnson claimed that metaphor is not just a
matter of language, but a matter of thought (1980: 7). They believe that
language is an indicator of the nature of our conceptual system, and metaphor
is so pervasive in language that it actually structures how we make sense of

and interact with the world around us. Hence the term ‗conceptual metaphor‘
Metaphor is a way of understanding a concept and according to Lakoff
and Johnson meaning and truth depend on understanding. Truth is not
objective, but depends on context; it relies on a human thinker. Thus,
metaphors structure what we perceive as truth. Kövecses believes that
metaphor involves using one conceptual domain to understand another
conceptual domain (Kövecses, 2002:4).
Cognitive Linguistics allows us to understand that metaphorical
thinking is crucial to human cognition. Thus, Lakoff and Johnson propose a
cognitive theory of metaphor, as a process thanks to which one concept is
understood using another concept (Lakoff 1980: 5). The best example of this
is talking about love in terms of journey. As mentioned previously, our
ability to categorize allowed us to gather knowledge about journeys that we
can depend on in understanding love. Kövecses emphasizes that we need to
differentiate conceptual metaphor from metaphorical linguistic expressions.
He proves that the latter disclose the existence of the former. ―To know a
conceptual metaphor is to know this set of mappings A is B. It was also
pointed that metaphor in cognitive linguistic view is primarily conceptual
metaphor. Classification of conceptual (cognitive) metaphors
According to Lakoff and Johnson in Metaphors We Live By (1980) and
Zoltan Kovecses in Metaphor: A Practical Introduction, there are 3 kinds of
conceptual metaphors: structural metaphors, orientational metaphors,
ontological metaphors.
a. a Structural metaphors:

Structural conceptual metaphors are considered by Lakoff and
Johnson (1980) as the group with the highest number. In this kind of







conceptualized based on the experience of simple and specific experiences.
An example often used to illustrate this type is the conceptual metaphor
“ARGUMENT IS WAR” which is expressed through a series of the
following expressions in English:

Your claims are indefensible.

He attacked every weak point in my argument.

His criticisms were right on the target.

I demolished his argument.

I’ve never won an argument with him.

You disagree? OK, shoot!

If you use that strategy, he’ll wipe you out.

He shot down all of my arguments. (Lakoff & Johnson 1980:4)

The above examples show that many actions that we perform when
debating are structured from the concept of war. We can win or lose in a
debate. During the debate, we consider the one we argue with as the
opponent. Therefore, we “attack” the opponent’s point of view and
“protect” our opinion. We can win or lose and also use tactics to win. When
we see the adverse situation making it difficult to protect our views, we
often “retreat” and “open the new attack route”. In this case, even without a
fight causing casualties, obviously we have a war of words through the
words of war that we use.
Through these examples, Lakoff and Johnson explained that an
abstract conceptual domain “debate” is understood through a specific
conceptual domain of “war”. Therefore, the concepts used in the sample
expressions above come conceptual domain of “war”. This is the basic

characteristics of the structural conceptual metaphor. Besides, in this group
of conceptual metaphor, the phenomenon of highlighting and hiding in the
conceptual domain is an important characteristic. For example in a fierce
war of words, where people only seek to put the views of their opponents
down and defend their opinion, they cannot see the aspect of “cooperation”
in the war of words. When someone argues, he or she spends time with us
and tries to find out what we think and why we have such views to
understand each other better. However, while focusing on the debate, we
often forget this aspect of cooperation. In other words, the aspect of debate
is highlighting and aspect of cooperation is hiding.
Structural metaphors are generally understood conceptual metaphors where
one concept is metaphorically structured in terms of another. Structural
metaphor is the most productive type of all conceptual metaphors. ‗Structural
metaphors‘ occur when a concept is metaphorically structured by another
concept ǁ, as Lakoff and Johnson (1980: 61) write, e.g. Love is a journey. In
Metaphors we live by Lakoff and Johnson state that 'the conceptual system is
metaphorical in nature' (Lakoff, 1980:4).
b. Orientational metaphors:
In orientational conceptual metaphor, a system of ideas is organized in
the relation and interaction in space like up-down, inside- out, front-behind,
shallow-deep, center- periphery etc. Lakoff and Johnson (1980) called this
group the orientational metaphor because they are related to the orientation
in space. The origin of this metaphor group is explained as follows by
researcher Tran Van Co (2007):
“We are the physical entity limited in a certain space and separated
from the rest of the world by our skin; we perceive the rest of the world as
the world outside us. Each of us is contained in limited space by the

surface of the body, which is potentially orientational type of “inside-out”.
This orientation makes us imagine other physical objects also limited by
the surface. At the same time we also see them as containers with inner
space and separated from the world outside.”
An example often cited to illustrate the orientational conceptual
metaphor group is “HAPPY IS UP, SAD IS DOWN” (Lakoff &
Johnson 1980) illustrated in these examples:

I’m feeling up.

That boosted my spirits.

My spirits rose.

You‘re in high spirits.

Conceptual metaphor “HAPPY IS UP, SAD IS DOWN” is derived
from the human body posture while they are happy or sad. Normally, when
people are depressed or sad they often bow down and when they are happy
they raise up their head and straight up their back. Thus we see that the
orientational conceptual metaphors are not arbitrary but based on culture
and experiences. Also according to Lakoff and Johnson (1980), the
conceptual domain “up-down", “inside- outside” are the spatial domain
concepts in the material world but the metaphors based on these conceptual
domains may vary in different cultures. For example, in some cultures, the
future is seen as the front but other cultures see the future lying in the back.
Another orientational conceptual metaphor with sharp cultural origin is

The discussion fell to the emotional level, but I raised it back up to
the rational plane.

We put our feelings aside and had a high-level intellectual
discussion of the matter.

He couldn’t rise above his emotions.

In many cultures, people themselves see as owners who have control
over animals, plants and the surrounding environment. Indeed, the ability to
think and reason have placed human above all else and entitle human the
ability to control the world. In this case the conceptual metaphor “Control is
up” is the foundation for conceptual metaphor “Human is up” and from
which we have conceptual metaphor “Reasonal is up; emotional is down”.
This conceptual metaphor may have different justifications. In human body,
wisdom lies in the brain and the brain locates in the head. Emotions of
human are often thought in various cultures to be arising from the abdomen
or chest. Obviously, heads are above the belly or the chest, so “Reasonal is
up; emotional is down”.
c. ontological metaphor
Lakoff and Johnson (1980) believed that the conceptualization of our
experience under the conceptual domain of material or tangible things
helps us extract abstract experiences and ideas out and see it as objects or
concrete substances. According to Tran Van Co (2007), the semanticization
of experience by terms allow us to extract a part of experience and interpret
them. Once we can conceptualize the experience into a specific object or
material, we can classify, group, quantify, etc… As a result of this we can
reason about the experience. Even if the boundary of things in the objective
world is not clear, we still classify them as: range of mountains, corners of
street, the row of trees etc... Setting such boundaries is so as to serve the
purpose of communication of human like defining a geographical area or a
location for appointment. According to Lakoff and Johnson, experience in
an interactive process with the specific object or substance is the
foundation for a wide variety of conceptual metaphors in which events,
activities, feelings, ideas etc...are considered as the essence. For example,

in English, human thinking is seen as a particular object, can be a machine
or a fragile character shown by the following examples:

We’re still trying to grind out the solution to this question.

My mind just isn’t operating today.

Boy, the wheels are turning now!

I’m a little rusty today.

We’ve been working on this problem all day and now we’re
running out of steam.


Her ego is very fragile.

You have to handle him with care since his wife’s death.

He broke under cross-examination.

She is easily crushed.

The experience shattered him.

I’m going to pieces.

The above ontological conceptual metaphors allow us to focus attention
on different aspects of thinking. Conceptual metaphor “thinking is a
machine” tells us that thinking can be seen as a machine operating under onoff mechanism. The machine can work with high or low performance, can
damage or rust and can use the fuel. Conceptual metaphor “thinking is a
fragile thing” also allow us to discuss the tolerance of the pressure of human
psychology. The ontological conceptual metaphor like this frequently occurs
in human thinking. According to Lakoff and Johnson, this kind of
conceptual metaphors appears frequently and is used so commonly that
people take them for granted.
2.2.3 Conceptual metaphor

A conceptual metaphor is a metaphor (or figurative comparison) in which
one idea (or conceptual domain) is understood in terms of another.
Conceptual metaphor is the conceptualization of a conceptual domain
through a different one,called "mapping", it has a system from a soucre
domain to a target domain so as to create a cognitive model ( metaphor
model), help to acquire a more specific target domain.
Cognitive linguistics distinguishes conceptual metaphor and language
metaphor ( just a form of metaphor. Metaphor is classed into : structral
metaphor, ontological metaphors and orientation metaphor.
Conceptual Metaphor Theory, sometimes called Cognitive Metaphor Theory,
was developed by researchers within the field of cognitive linguists. It
became widely known with the publication of Metaphors We Live By, by
Lakoff and Johnson, in 1980. Conceptual metaphor theory has since been
developed and elaborated. For further discussion of the theory and recent
developments within the field of cognitive linguistics, see Gibbs (1994),
Kövecses (2002, 2005), and Evans and Green (2006). This section attempts
to describe the central points of Conceptual Metaphor Theory and outline
implications for researchers in the social sciences.
The fundamental tenet of Conceptual Metaphor Theory is that metaphor
operates at the level of thinking. Metaphors link two conceptual domains, the
‘source’ domain and the ‘target’ domain. The source domain consists of a set
of literal entities, attributes, processes and relationships, linked semantically
and apparently stored together in the mind. These are expressed in language
through related words and expressions, which can be seen as organized in
groups resembling those sometimes described as ‘lexical sets’ or ‘lexical
fields’ by linguists. The ‘target’ domain tends to be abstract, and takes its
structure from the source domain, through the metaphorical link, or
‘conceptual metaphor’. Target domains are therefore believed to have

relationships between entities, attributes and processes which mirror those
found in the source domain. At the level of language, entities, attributes and
processes in the target domain are lexicalized using words and expressions
from the source domain. These words and expressions are sometimes called
‘linguistic metaphors’ or ‘metaphorical expressions’ to distinguish them from
conceptual metaphors.
For proponents of Conceptual Metaphor Theory, thought has primacy over
language. The theory was not intended to account for language in use, which
is merely the surface manifestation of more important phenomena.
Nonetheless, patterns of word use are the main evidence presented for the
theory. These linguistic data have tended to be generated intuitively, either by
the researcher or by informants, but in recent years some researchers are
beginning to analyse naturally occurring language data.
Proponents of Conceptual Metaphor Theory argue that few or even no
abstract notions can be talked about without metaphor: there is no direct way
of perceiving them and we can only understand them through the filter of
directly experienced, concrete notions. The conceptual metaphor a purposeful
life is a journey is cited widely in the literature (for example, Lakoff 1993).
This is realized linguistically through expressions such as “He got a head
start in life. He’s without direction in life. I’m where I want to be in life…”
(Lakoff 1993: 223). It is difficult to find linguistic expressions about the
development of an individual’s life which are not also used to talk about
literal journeys. Other metaphors are used to talk about different aspects of
life; Lakoff cites a purposeful life is a business (1993: 227). It is very
difficult to find expressions used to talk about the subject of life which are
not metaphorical in some way. If it is true that abstract subjects are generally
talked about using metaphor, and a mass of linguistic evidence has been
gathered to support this contention, a close examination of the metaphors

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