Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Linguistics (Interdepartmental Program)

Document Type



In the first case study, a piece of recent BBC news reported on Chinese netizens leaving random but funny comments on a Western website attracted people’s attention. A closer look at those comments reveals that understanding the Chinese netizens’ comments requires metaphorical and cultural knowledge. This study starts with theoretical explanations on metaphor from different perspectives and then presents cultural variations in Western and Eastern metaphors. With theories and cultures grounded, a detailed analysis was done to show people without Chinese cultural background how to understand the Chinese Internet metaphors that drew people’s attention. The second case study takes a critical discourse analysis approach to investigate metaphors in political discourses in Chinese. Five pieces of Chinese government reports were studied. Metaphor, revealing how we think about the world, encompasses cultural and social factors. It functions differently for different communication purpose. The current study proves the persuasive role of metaphor in political discourse which can evoke people’s emotional response, for the governing group to have an ideological influence on how people conceptualize things. The third case study applies word recognition as part of the classroom instruction in the form of meaning, character and pronunciation, to investigate whether training on either two of the three constituents can improve students’ vocabulary acquisition. The results showed that, for new learners, the bond between characters and either pronunciation or meaning is weak. Training in either character with meaning or character with pronunciation has positive effects and training to enhance the relation between character and pronunciation also retrieve meaning, which brings a three-way benefit.



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Committee Chair

Brody, Mary J.



Included in

Linguistics Commons