Volume 5, Issue 2
  • ISSN 2213-8722
  • E-ISSN: 2213-8730



The avoidance of directly addressing human mortality indicates fear of death. This fear elicits psychological, social and religious interdictions in language such that people resort to the use of metaphors to avoid confronting death. Under the premise that metaphor is a conceptual mapping from a concrete source to an abstract target domain, this study aims to identify and categorize euphemistic metaphors of death in six languages: Chinese, Farsi, Gĩkũyũ, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish. Those metaphors are interpreted via the Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT). In doing so, 40 speakers in each of the languages were asked to complete a short questionnaire. Various metaphors of death were identified in each language and categorized into four conceptual metaphors: ; and . The key finding is that the most common metaphor of death is . This holds across linguistic groups regardless of gender and age factors. This study also discusses the role of embodied cognition theories in accounting for how metaphors of death are created and their role within cognition in general.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): cognitive linguistics; death; embodiment; euphemism; metaphorical mapping; metaphors
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