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Title: Cultural metaphors in Singlish
Authors: Lai, Yun-Sxin
Keywords: Humanities::Linguistics
Issue Date: 2023
Publisher: Nanyang Technological University
Source: Lai, Y. (2023). Cultural metaphors in Singlish. Master's thesis, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
Abstract: Cultural metaphors are “culturally constructed” conceptual metaphors (Sharifian, 2014b, p. 482) born from experiences unique to each culture. The study of cultural metaphors have been useful for analyzing many aspects of different cultures around the world. This thesis investigates what cultural metaphors may reveal about Singaporean culture. The study was carried out in two parts. In the first part, the conceptual metaphors potentially existing in Singaporean culture were identified through an analysis of the linguistic metaphors existing in the Singlish lexicon, which were sieved out from a lexical database comprising of common Singlish expressions collected from print and online Singlish lexicons documented by Singlish speakers. Based on the linguistic metaphors uncovered, an inductive metaphorical reconstruction was carried out to uncover the potential conceptual metaphors that may underlie the linguistic metaphors. An analysis of the main trends visible from the set of conceptual metaphors identified revealed that the majority of conceptual metaphors were physical metaphors with source domain concepts stemming from eight main semantic fields (‘The body’, ‘Actions’, ‘Animals’, ‘The physical world’, ‘Sense perception’, ‘Spatial relations and Motion’, ‘Food and Drink’, and ‘Agriculture and vegetation’), and target domain concepts stemming from five main semantic fields (‘Human characteristics’, ‘Actions’, ‘Possession’, ‘Social and political relations’, and ‘Emotions’). The major conceptual metaphors of Singlish were identified and discussed in relation to the origin language(s) from which their linguistic instantiations originate. Wherever relevant, comparisons were also drawn to similar or contrasting metaphors in other languages. Overall, the findings suggest that the conceptual metaphors of Singlish exist as a unique combination of different metaphors stemming from a range of ancestral cultures, exhibiting both similarities and differences with the conceptual metaphors of other societies. Afterwards, the second part sought to identify whether Singlish speakers of different ethnicities display differences in their repertoire of conceptual metaphors. A 46-item questionnaire was constructed to investigate real-life Singlish speakers’ perception and use of Singlish linguistic metaphors, and the conceptual metaphors that underlie them. The questionnaire’s stimuli involved 46 linguistic metaphors that have been analyzed as lexical expressions of a few major conceptual metaphors based on the findings of the earlier metaphorical analysis. A total of 114 participants took part. They were tested on whether they knew and use each lexical expression, in both their literal and metaphorical meanings. The findings indicate that participants of the Chinese ethnicity displayed significant differences in their knowledge and use of non-English metaphors, compared to the Malay and Indian ethnicities. The findings also show that older participants know and use more non-English metaphors compared to the younger participants. However, the results also suggest that the perception and use of English metaphors are generally uniform across all ethnic and age groups. Altogether, these findings on cultural metaphors suggest that there is much potential for future research to further the cultural study of Singlish from the cognitive perspective, by analyzing the culture-specific conceptualizations existing beneath the linguistic features of Singlish, including cultural metaphors, as well as cultural schemas, categories, metonymy, and more.
DOI: 10.32657/10356/171872
Schools: School of Humanities 
Rights: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).
Fulltext Permission: open
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:SoH Theses

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