Thai University Students’ Understanding and Perception of English Metaphors in News Articles

By Chamaipak Tayjasanant.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Languages are related to cultures and may influence how people from different cultures view the world. Metaphor is one of the major types of figurative language reflecting this, as Jose Ortega y Gasset, a famous Spanish philosopher, proposed in 1948 ‘The metaphor is probably the most fertile power possessed by man.’ Based on an awareness that learning a new language would be more effective if the learner also knew the culture of the target language, the study examined: 1) the abilities to interpret English metaphors of Thai students from different major subjects at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels; 2) their perspectives on the use of English metaphors in news articles; and 3) factors that possibly affected their understanding and interpretation of English metaphors. The data were collected from three undergraduate and postgraduate classes through tests and group interviews. The major findings showed that the students rarely knew the meaning of the metaphors without the contexts given. Many felt metaphors differed in their degree of difficulty. Some felt not knowing metaphoric meanings was a problem in learning English. Overall, the research helped raise an awareness of the importance of culture in language, and had implications for integrating figures of speech in language classes.

Keywords: Figurative Language, Metaphor, Pragmatics, Conceptual Metaphor Theory, Language and Culture

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 9, Issue 10, pp.129-146. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 965.438KB).

Dr. Chamaipak Tayjasanant

Department of Foreign Languages, Faculty of Humanities, Kasetsart University, Bangkok, Thailand

Chamaipak Tayjasanant is an assistant professor in the Department of Foreign Languages at Kasetsart University, Thailand. She obtained a PhD in Education (TEFL) from the School of Education and Lifelong Learning at the University of Exeter, UK. She is currently in charge of teaching both undergraduate and postgraduate courses with particular interests in teacher cognition, language, culture, nature, and communication. Her recent article was “Language Teachers’ Beliefs and Practices Regarding the Appropriateness of Communicative Methodology: A Case Study from Thailand” published in Volume 7 Number 2, Summer 2010. Her other current work is in the area of language maintainance, and the relationship between language and ecology.

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