Spatial Meaning is Retained in Emotion Metaphors: Some Evidence from Spanish


Previous work has shown that the abstract use of the prepositions in and on retains spatial meaning, such as containment and support that includes the control relationship between a located object (the figure) and a reference object (the ground). We extend these ideas to the case of metaphorical descriptions of emotion in Spanish – some of them featuring the emotion as a located entity in the person´s body, and some of them featuring emotion as the ground in which the person´s body stands. Two rating experiments show that people judge emotions as more “controllable” when they are described as located entities (the figure) than when they are described as grounds.

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