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Language, Heart, and Mind

Studies at the intersection of emotion and cognition

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Edited By Barbara Lewandowska-Tomaszczyk, Valeria Monello and Marco Venuti

A major premise of this book is that language use is critically conditioned by affective content and cognitive factors rather than being a case of objective computation and manipulation of structures. The 21 chapters of this book deals with how language interacts with emotion, and with mind and cognition, from both intralingual and cross-linguistic perspectives. The second major focus is the theoretical framework, best-suited for research relationships between language, cognition, and emotion as well as the effect that emotion has on the conceptualizer who constructs meanings based on language stimuli. Furthermore, the authors investigate how emotion and rational projections of events interact and what their consequences are in the conceptual world, media discourse, and translation.

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10. How to Die (死: sǐ ) Properly in Modern Mandarin Chinese: A Cognitive-Pragmatic Account (Andrew HC. Chuang)

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Andrew HC. Chuang

Abstract Sǐ is a taboo word in the Chinese culture, and yet is profusely found across modern Mandarin discourse. Adopting a constructionist approach, this study analyses the VSNL/VSWL alternation as a cognitive process of conceptualizing various grammatical considerations in Mandarin Chinese, namely, zero form, topic-comment alignment, sǐ and le as pragmatic markers, and the five Chinese emotion verbs that participate in the alternation. To help realize the process, a cognitive-pragmatic account is provided to explain how the alternation takes place in real language use that reflects a speaker’s linguistic and cultural competences.

Keywords: Cognitive pragmatics, Chinese grammar, Construction grammar, Topic-comment construction, Word-order alternation, Frequency effect, Excessive degree modifier

Death not only registers among the many taboo categories1 across different cultures (Anderson & Hirsch, 1985), but is also found to replace sex-related topics as the most forbidden subject matter in the modern context (Allan & Burridge, 2009), which is particularly so in Chinese society. The Mandarin Chinese word sǐ (死: die or death) is highly evocative of infelicitous imagery, hence, greatly avoided in verbal communication (Chen, 2012). This general avoidance of death then transforms into a fear of using any word associated with sǐ. As a result, many people start to substitute death-related terms with such expressions as passed away, departed, walked away, crossed it, and so on (Gao, 2013; Hayakawa, 1982; Lei, 2016; and many others). This fear of death can be well realized in the near-homophone of sǐ (third tone), that...

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