Dynamic body parts in Estonian figurative descriptions of emotion

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This study applies cognitive metaphor and metonymy theory to Estonian descriptions of emotion that reference body parts. Body parts like the chest and heart are conceptualized as containers for emotion. More common is the figurative exploitation of the dynamic, changeable parts of the head, in particular the face, the eyes, and lips. No correspondence seems to hold between specific emotions and specific body parts. Most are used to refer to both positive and negative emotions, the latter found to be more frequent. Interestingly, the conceptual metaphors good is up and bad is down are not always applicable: up does not always convey good in Estonian body part expressions, but rather means activated, with either a positive or negative evaluation. It is proposed that conceptualizations are made from either an Emoter’s or an Observer’s perspective and are found to correlate with metaphorical and metonymic codings, respectively.


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