Alicante Journal of English Studies / Revista Alicantina de Estudios Ingleses

Conceptual metaphors in taboo-induced lexical variation

Eliecer Crespo Fernández

Abstract

Taboo is deeply woven into every culture and society, which is obviously reflected in vocabulary. Indeed, taboo keeps language users from avoiding the forbidden concept and compels them to preserve or violate it, which leads to endless series of cross varietal synonyms for forbidden concepts. In this process, though metaphor stands out as a potent source for euphemistic and dysphemistic reference, the analysis of conceptual metaphor in the Lakoffian tradition as a X-phemistic device has not been dealt with in depth so far. In this regard, the main aim of this paper is twofold: to gain an insight into the process of metaphorical X-phemistic lexical replacements triggered by taboo and explore the role the process of lexicalization of metaphorical units plays in sex and death-related X-phemistic vocabulary. The analysis undertaken demonstrates that whereas lexicalized metaphorical units are deprived of their capacity to conceptualize the taboo in particular terms, both semi-lexicalized and creative metaphors suit the purpose of euphemism and dysphemism by conceptualizing a taboo topic within a conceptual network, which accounts for the X-phemistic function of metaphorical items.

Keywords

Taboo; Conceptual metaphors; X-phemistic vocabulary



DOI: https://doi.org/10.14198/raei.2011.24.03

Copyright (c) 2011 Eliecer Crespo Fernández

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