From human body parts to the embodiment of spatial conceptualization in English idioms

The article focuses on the relation between "mind" and "body" within the domain of English idioms. These two entities are inseparable from each other, but still are rather different. Though the development of thought depends on environmental changes and communicative situation, it "ties mind inextricably to body and environment" (Johnson, Rohrer, 2007: 22). Capacities for perception, object manipulation and bodily movement in the outer world, which are at the core of person's visual system have their roots in spatial cognition. It exits only in close connection with social, cultural and emotional experience of a human being.

The importance of investigating idiomatic expressions in English arises from the fact that they specify linguistic and extra-linguistic knowledge in a rather specific way, because of the conceptual dependence of their components on the composite structure of the whole unit, different degrees of fixedness, motivation and dependence on the user's pragmatic needs in situational contexts. English complex idiomatic units with head, eye(s), nose and mouth as their components will be illustrated in the article on the basis of the compositionality of meaning and image schemas. 

As the result of the cognitive modeling, human body parts in phraseological units of English are conceptualized in several ways referring to a finite number of topological classes: 1) containers with inner and outer spaces; 2) containers with inherent parts of conceived entities, that may be open or closed; 3) static objects located in as points in space; 4) dynamic things profiled in their motion over the landmark. Inside these topological classes the integration of two or more image schemas may be observed. The analysis of human body parts in idiomatic units of English has proved to be fruitful, because the combination of cognitive methods provides the basis for our understanding of conceptualization and reasoning.

Key words: cognitive linguistics, human body parts, English idioms, phraseological units, embodiment, spatial conceptualization, cognitive modelling, image schemas

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