Expressing and Describing Surprise
  • ISSN 1877-9751
  • E-ISSN: 1877-976X


In this paper, I examine the concept of surprise from a cognitive linguistic perspective. As previous studies indicate, surprise is a not-quite-prototypical emotion category. My focus will be on the structure and content of surprise as an emotion category, as this can be revealed on the basis of the language speakers of English use to talk about it. As regards methodology, I will follow my earlier work and employ a “lexical approach” to emotion concepts (see, e.g., Kövecses, 1986, 1990, 2000) to explore the language-based folk model of surprise in English. I will investigate the conceptual metaphors and metonymies associated with surprise and will propose a cognitive model for the emotion. It is hoped that this methodology enables us to see why surprise is not a prototypical emotion concept on a par with, for example, anger or fear.


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