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Conceptual Metaphor Theory and Emotion Stylistics: An Analysis of Urdu Poems [Zubair A. Bajwa]

Conceptual Metaphor Theory and Emotion Stylistics: An Analysis of Urdu Poems [Zubair A. Bajwa]

Conceptual Metaphor Theory and Emotion Stylistics: An Analysis of Urdu Poems [Zubair A. Bajwa]




This study has undertaken metaphorical analysis of poetry with the help of Conceptual Metaphor Theory of cognitive stylistics by blending it with the newly emerged approach Emotional Stylistics (Nørgaard, Montoro, & Busse, 2010). The objective is to find out how metaphors are used as a stylistic choice and device to touch the emotions of the readers and achieve the emotive function in natural languages which is believed to be connected with cognition. The focus is also to explain the relation between metaphors and emotive function (Jakobson, 1958) or meaning of language. Two concurrent Urdu poems were selected as data for analysis. Analysis was done to find out the relation between metaphors as stylistic device and effect of emotive meaning of language on the reader.

Key Words: Metaphorical analysis, Cognitive Stylistics, Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT), Emotion Stylistics, emotive meaning


1. Introduction

In his work “The Rhetoric”, Aristotle learning is made enjoyable with the use of metaphor; “To learn easily is naturally pleasant to all people, and words signify something, so whatever words create knowledge in us are the pleasantest.”

Metaphor is the comparison of two unlike things. Simile, personification, anthropomorphism, hyperbole, parable, fable, and analogy are metaphors (English, n.d.). The Philosophy of Rhetoric (1937) by I. A. Richards describes a metaphor as having two parts: the tenor and the vehicle. The tenor is the subject to which attributes are ascribed. The vehicle is the object whose attributes are borrowed. In the example “all the world is a stage”, “the world” is compared to a stage, describing it with the attributes of “the stage”; “the world” is the tenor, and “a stage” is the vehicle. However, cognitive linguistics uses the terms target and source respectively.

There are five types of methaphor;

  1. Cognitive metaphor: an object’s association with the outside world
  2. Conceptual metaphor: an association between language and thought
  • Root metaphor: an individual’s worldview that controls their understanding of a worldly event
  1. Non-linguistic metaphor: in which an association is drawn between two non-linguistic elements
  2. Visual metaphor: usage of an image in elaboration or understanding of ideas

This study is a stylistic analysis that has been based upon the multi-model application of concurrent approaches of stylistics on concurrent poetry by Wasi Shah. Two modern stylistic approaches – cognitive stylistics and emotion stylistics – have been blended to use as a tool to apply the Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT). This analysis aims to find out the use of metaphors in poetry to see their intended and expected psychological or emotional effect on the readers. Thus, this will find out what is the relation between metaphors and emotive function of language.

On the basis of the functions of a language, different models of functions of language have been proposed which were accepted, then rejected and modified or developed into new ones which will be discussed in the sections to follow.










Figure ‎1.1 Schematic Representation of the Present Study

By focusing the cognitive stylistics and emotion stylistics, the two newly emerged approaches, this study seeks to find the relation between emotion and style.

Theoretical Background

Several new approaches in the stylistics have emerged. Two of them are cognitive stylistics and emotion stylistics (Nørgaard, Montoro, & Busse, 2010). This study is based upon finding the emotional components of literary discourse with the help of emotion stylistics and metaphor theory by taking it from cognitive stylistics.

1.1.   Statement of the Purpose

Poetry is the best form of poem poetic language. Different types of figurative language i.e. metaphors, personification, similes are commonly used in poetry to touch the emotions of the readers. Among the figurative use of language is metaphor that is employed to concretize the abstract emotions. The use of this type of figurative language was categorized as emotive function of language by Jakobson in 1960. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to analyze how conceptual metaphors are encoded linguistically in poetry to strike the readers’ emotions and feelings.

1.2.   Research Question

  1. What is the effect of metaphors on language and cognition?

1.3.   Research Objective

  1. To explore the emotional components of literary discourse which also create the mark the language poetic.


2. Literature Review

Literature review in this part is pertained to the two approaches firstly Emotion Stylistics with the emotive meaning/function of language based on Jakobson’s model of 1960 (Jakobson’s model, 2016) and secondly the Conceptual Metaphor Theory within Cognitive Stylistics.

2.1.   Emotive Meaning

According to Wales (2014), emotive meaning “refers to the effect that a word might have on the emotions of the reader or listener”. For examples the word ‘home’ to a ‘sailor’ or ‘long-distance lorry-driver’. Certain words do seem to have emotive connotations ‘built into’ them i.e. evaluative words of approval (darling; sweetheart) and disapproval (hooligan; vandal). Use of emotive language may tell us something about the feelings and attitudes of the speaker or writer.

2.2.   Emotion Stylistics

This approach is also the recent addition to the study of stylistics. It aims at novel way of looking at literary texts with the emotional aspects of reading.

However, a description of some couple of terms i.e. “emotion, affect, feelings and mood” to avoid ambiguity is necessary as to discuss it. They are not synonymous as noted by Nørgaard et al (2010).

As Oatley et al (2006, as cited in Nørgaard et al, 2010), affect is understood as the umbrella term for emotions, mood and preferences whereas emotion refers to “a more complex set of affairs, typically a multi-component response to a challenge or an opportunity that is important to an individual’s goals”

Some of these multi-faceted components include a conscious mind, bodily changes, face expressions, gestures or a marked tone of voice and finally readiness for action. Despite different meanings in disciplines such as cognitive psychology and psychology, stylistics has blended the two and treated them synonymously. ‘Basically affective refers to feelings, hence it means “emotional”’ (Wales, 2001, p. 10).

Besides, the enlightened stylistic analyses have succeeded in looking into the emotional components of literary discourse as a whole, whether these affect the production level (author-induced emotion), the textual level (linguistic means) or the reception level (reader response).

Emotions, then, are intimately related to cognition. Thus, in assessing the

emotional potential of literature, we shall have to take this relation into

account [. . .]. Reading literature is [. . .] one such form in which our emo-

tional involvement has clear cognitive overtones. (van Peer, 1997, p. 227)

Van Peer has signaled that there are intricate connections between cognitive components of human comprehension and their emotional counterparts.

2.3.   Cognitive Stylistics & CMT

A recent approach to the study of stylistics is cognitive stylistics which is also known poetic stylistics (Nørgaard, Montoro, & Busse, 2010).  According to Stockwell (2002, as cited in (Nørgaard et al 2010, p. 7), “Cognitive poetics is all about reading literature”. Cognitive Stylistics involves various frameworks such as conceptual metaphor theory, conceptual frame theory, blending theory, schema theory, and text world theory (Nørgaard, Montoro, & Busse, 2010).

According to Nørgaard et al, Roman Jakobson identified six functions of language which are (i) emotive (ii) conative (ii) metalinguistic, (iv) poetic, (v) phatic, and (vi) referential. The aspect of communication which focuses on the addresser is called the emotive function, the conative function is language use oriented towards the addressee, the phatic function concerns the contact between the interlocutors, the metalingual function is language use that is oriented towards the code, the referential function is oriented towards the context of the message and the poetic function is language use which focuses on the message itself.






Figure ‎2.1 Jakobson’s Model of Communication


2.3.1.               Conceptual Metaphor Theory

Conceptual metaphor theory was developed in cognitive linguistics and popularized with Lakoff and Johnson’s book “Metaphors We Live By” in 1980 (Deignan, 2016).

George Lakoff and Mark Johnson (as cited in Wales, 2014) argued that the “metaphoric impulse is basic to human thought processes”. For instance, good things are described in term of ‘up’ in English language. (She’s in high spirits or on cloud nine. And what is ‘bad’ as ‘down’ (She’s down in the dumps / under the weather / in low spirits / has an inferiority complex).

According to Deignan (2016), Conceptual Metaphor Theory is based on the view that metaphors operate at the level of thinking. They link two conceptual domains which are the ‘source’ domain and the ‘target’ domain (figure).





Figure ‎2.2 Source domain and 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, 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. 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 CMT, thought is superior to language. They hold that no abstract notions can be talked about without metaphor. The conceptual metaphor a purposeful life is a journey. Linguistically, this is realized 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).

They also claim that all metaphors both hide and highlight aspects of the target domain. For instance, the conceptual metaphor understanding is seizing, discussed by Lakoff and Turner (1989) suggests that an idea is a concrete object which can be metaphorically grasped and then held. This highlights a familiar aspect of understanding new ideas.

Jakobson’s model argues that discourse is basically built upon two fundamental principles: similarity and contiguity. He ties up these principles with the rhetorical figures of metaphor and metonymy because similarity lies at the heart of metaphor (‘my love is a rose’) and contiguity – that is, association, or close relation – lies at the heart of metonymy. It is argued that in discourse one topic may lead to another either because of their similarity (the metaphoric principle) or because of their contiguity (the metonymic principle). In Jakobson’s view, metaphor is related to the paradigmatic axis of language, the ‘axis of selection’, which consists of a set of equivalent lexical and grammatical elements from which a selection can be made in the formation of sentences and texts. (Nørgaard, Montoro, & Busse, 2010).



3. Analysis Method

For the purpose of doing metaphorical analysis by applying the Conceptual of Metaphorical Theory, three Urdu poems of a concurrent poems were selected. These poems were a deliberate and careful selection based on native, communicative, pragmatic, and cultural competence for the researcher to find out the metaphors for the analysis.

First, metaphors in the poems were marked. In the second step, they were analyzed as source and target domain. And under the discussion heading, the results were explained.


4. Analysis

Following is the analysis of the three selected poems.

4.1.   Poem 1

By Wasi Shah

Line no. Transliteration  
1. Jab Raat Ki Nagin Dasti Hai جب رات کی ناگن ڈستی ہے
2. Nus Nus Mein Zehar Utarta Hai نس نس میں زہر اترتا ہے
3. Jab Chand Ki Kirnein Tezi Se جب چاند کی کِرنیں تیزی سے
4. Uss Dil Ko Cheer Ke Ati Hain اُس دل کو چیر کے آتی ہیں
5. Jab Ankh Ke Andar Hi Ansoo جب آنکھ کے اند ہی آنسو
6. Zanjeron Mein Bandh Jate Hain زنجیروں میں بند جاتے ہیں
7. Sab Jazbon Pe Cha Jate Hain سب جذبوں پہ چھا جاتے ہیں
8. Tab Yaad Bohat Tum Aate Ho تب یاد بہت تم آتے ہو
9. Jab Dard Ki Jhan-Jar Bajti Hai جب درد کی جھانجھر بجتی ہے
10. Jab Raqs Ghamon Ka Hota Hai جب رقص غموں کا ہوتا ہے
11. Khawabon Ki Taal Pe Sare Dukh خوابوں کی تال پہ سارے دکھ
12. Wehshat Ke Saaz Bajate Hain وحشت کا ساز بجاتے ہیں
13. Gate Hain Khawahish Ki Ley Me گاتے ہیں خوابوں کی لے میں
14. Masti Me Jhomte Jate Hain مستی میں جھوم جاتے ہیں
15. Sab Jazbon Par Cha Jate Hain سب جذبوں پہ چھا جاتے ہیں
16. Tab Yaad Bohat Tum Ate Ho تب یاد بہت تم آتے ہو


4.1.1.                Metaphors

This poem contains the metaphors

  1. raat ki nagin ka dasna – line 1

In this metaphor “nagin” is the source domain and “raat” is the target domain. The metaphor is intended to convey the pain that someone feels at night. Night is being presented a horrifying thing.

  1. anso’on ka zanjeeron mein bandhna – line 5, 6

The source domain is “zanjeer” (irons) and the target domain is “anso” (tear) in this metaphor. Something such as a tear which is even difficult to stop from rolling out and which cannot be tied is being tied with strong chains of iron. This metaphor is definitely intended to create psychological effects to make readers realize the emotional meaning.

  • dard ki jhanjar ka bajna –           line 9

The abstract entity “dard” (pain) is the target domain in this metaphor which has been concretized though the source domain “jhanjar”.

  1. gamon ka raqs – line 10

Another abstraction “gham” as the target domain has been embodied with the source domain “raqs”.

  1. khabon ki taal- line 11

The metaphor materialized to target domain “khab” with the help of source domain “taal”.

  1. wehshat k saaz –             line 12

The metaphor materialized to target domain “wehshat” with the help of source domain “saaz”.

  • khahishon ki le mein gatay hain line 13

The metaphor materialized to target domain “Khahishon” with the help of source domain “le”.

  • (dukh) masti mein jhoomtay hain line 14

Metaphorical expression has been concretized with personification.

4.1.2.               Personification

Personification has been used in the first line as “raat ki nagin ka dasna”, in the fifth and sixth line as “aanso’n ka zanjeeron main bandhna”, in the ninth line as “dard ki jhanjhar ka bajna”, in the tenth line as “gamon ka raqs”, and in the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth line as “dukh wehshat ka saaz bajatay hain…gatay hain…….masti main jhom jatay hain”.



4.2.   Poem 2

By Parveen Shakir

Line no. Transliteration  
1. Falak pay chaand k haalay bhi soog krtay hain فلک پہ چاند کے ہالے بھی سوگ کرتے ہیں
2. Jo tu nahi to ujaalay bhi soog krtay hain جو تو نہیں تو اُجالے بھی سوگ کرتے ہیں
3. Tumharay hath ki churri bhi bain krti hain تمہارے ہاتھ کی چوڑی بھی بین کرتی ہے
4. Hamary hont kay talay bhi soog krty hain ہمارے ہوںٹ کے تالے بھی سوگ کرتے ہیں
5. Nagar nagar main bhikhray hain wo soog k manzar نگر نگر میں بکھرے ہیں وہ سوگ کے منظر
6. Hamari rooh k chalay bhi soog kartay hain ہماری روح کے چھالے بھی سوگ کرتے ہیں
7. Usay kaho k sitam main kuch kami kar day اُسے کہو کہ ستم میں کچھ کمی کر دے
8. K zulm torrnay walay bhi soog kartay hain کہ ظلم توڑنے والے بھی سوگ کرتے ہیں
9. Tum apnay dukh pay akailay hi nahi afsurda تم اپنے دکھ پہ اکیلے ہی نہی ہو افسردہ
10. Tumharay chahnay walay bhi soog karta hain تمہارے چاہنے والے بھی سوگ کرتے ہیں


4.2.1.               Metaphors

Following are the metaphors that have been used in the poem.

  1. Ujaalon ka soog line 2

Both the target domain “ujaalon” and the source domain “soog” are abstract in this metaphor.

  1. Churri ka bain line 3

The target domain is “churri” which is concrete and the source domain is “bain” that is abstract.

  • Hont k taalay aor unka soog line 4

The target domain is “hont” and the source domain domain is “taalay”. Both of them are concrete. The again both form a metaphor with the secondary source domain “soog”.

  1. Rooh k chalay aor unka soog line 5

The target domain is “rooh” and the source domain is “chaalay”. The abstract target domain has been concretized through the concrete source domain “chaalay”.


4.2.2.               Personification

Personification has been employed in the first line of the poem as “halon ka soog”, in the second line as “ujaalon ka soog”, in the third line as “churri ka bain”, in the fourth line as “hont k talon ka soog”, and in the sixth line as “rooh k Chalon ka soog”



4.3.   Discussion

Poems are, no doubt, intended to touch the feelings of their readers. The choice of words in poem directly influence the emotions of the readers. Although there are different types of poem; some of them are descriptive, some of them are meant to show praise, and poems, such as this, are more sensational and emotional in nature.

The use of such metaphors (that have been analyzed above) which are meant to show the feelings by materializing them, the meaning which Jakobson identified as ‘emotive meaning’ has been highlighted. And these metaphor has a correspond to phenomenon of existence of conceptual metaphors which are abstract as compared to linguistics metaphor.

Linguistic metaphor is the real manifestation of conceptual metaphor but they are different from the conceptual metaphor because the latter belongs to the mental aspects thus more abstract.

The use of these metaphors provides us with the evidence that metaphorical expression function as emotives in a language and using such expression appeal to the senses and click the mind to wake the particular sensation that the writer has intently encoded.

Moreover, as these metaphors has shown, they work as semantic deviation employed to foreground the emotional aspects of literary language.

Of course, poetry is the best form of literary text. Metaphorical expressions, with an evidence from this poem, appear to be one of the most crucial tools that bring literariness within a piece of text.

Hence, it can be claimed that the emotive function of language is best achieved through the use of metaphors i.e. they work as the emotional component of a literary discourse.


5. Conclusion

As the analysis has shown, various types of metaphors i.e. simile, personification, anthropomorphism, hyperbole, parable, fable, and analogy. in these poems, however, simile, personification, anthropomorphosim, and hyperbole have very commonly been used. Therefore, the poet’s choice of style has been successful to convey the emotional aim that he wished to be felt by the readers.

Moreover, metaphors are employed as a poetic device. This poetic device directly influences the cognition by clicking the emotions of the readers. Besides, the metaphorical expression in the poems, by highlighting the emotional components, also help in categorization of genres of the poems.

Also, metaphors are an essential component in cognitive stylistics because they are help to understand the mental representations of the world which can lead the writer to employ aa particular style depending which cognitive aspects are intended to be clicked.

Furthermore, metaphors can be considered a vehicle for transferring emotive meaning eventually linked with cognition.

As far as the question under investigation of this study is concerned, it can now be answered that the use of metaphors makes language poetic and hence mark it literary. What is meant by the poetic or literariness is that it foregrounds the aesthetical aspects instead of merely mirroring the world as it really is outside.

The use of metaphor underscores and foreground the emotional components of the poetic discourse by using the metaphorical frames. Along with the emotional aspect, it also makes reading pleasant. Metaphorical expressions also concrete the abstract notions and makes it easy for the readers to comprehend easily what is to be communicated.




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About Zubair A. Bajwa

Zubair A. Bajwa is a graduate in linguistics from Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. Now, he holds an M.Phil. degree in English Linguistics from University of Gujrat. He is an author of various articles.

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