The metaphor of the “body politic” across languages and cultures: Andreas Musolff
The metaphor of the “body politic” across languages and cultures
Andreas Musolff (UEA, Norwich)
(1)Student A: ‘The head of the body represents the Queen of England, as she is in charge of the whole country and she is royalty. The features of the head (eyes, nose, mouth and ears) represent the different official people, such as politicians, the Prime Minister, the Government.’
(2)Student B: ‘Beijing: brain (government); Shanghai: hug/arm (welcome to foreign people); Guangzhen: feet (keep China going); Hong Kong: face (familiar to everyone, representative); Taiwan: hair (we can live without hair but it is necessary for beauty).’
The examples above come from a research corpus1 of answers given by MA students at the University of East Anglia (UEA) who completed the task of describing the body politic of their home country. As can be surmised from the geographical references, the first answer was given by a British student, the second one by a Chinese student. But the two answers do not just differ in terms of geography but reveal a difference in the conceptual structure of the NATION-AS-BODY metaphor.2 The first response describes aspects of the United Kingdom’s official constitutional system in terms of a (human) body’s head and its various prominent parts. The Chinese student’s response, by contrast, is based on a selection of geographical entities in China which are linked to parts of the human anatomy through ← 85 | 86 → functional correspondences between the political institutions based...