Monday, September 26, 2011

Caroline Gevaert: "The ANGER IS HEAT question" (2005)

In defense of Geeraerts and Gondelaers' (1995) hypothesis about the historical origin of the ANGER IS HEAT metaphor, Caroline Gevaert examines some Old English corpus material and concludes that the metaphor was indeed in all likelihood inherited from Latin scholarship.

As a part of her argument, she acknowledges that test subjects' body heat increases slightly (about .1 degree celsius) when they make an angry face, apparently supporting a physiological basis for ANGER IS HEAT. However, she then comments that this temperature increase also occurs when subjects mimic other emotions, suggesting that I was boiling with sadness should be equally natural (p. 197).

She also notes that the evidence from Chinese actually seems to contradict the theory, referring only to chilies (and, presumably, their red color) and not to heat or flames (p. 196). The Native American language Chikasaw similarly does not seem to support the hypothesis.

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