What is it about?
We analyze five Chinese clips that promote Chinese cities and/or a trade fair in a Chinese city. We argue that metaphors (A is compared to B) and metonymies (B stands for A) are key instruments to trigger meaning in the clips. These metaphors and metonymies are created drawing on visuals, music, and sound, in combination with language. Thereby they are truly multimodal. We end by showing that meaning is not exhausted by analyzing only metaphors and metonymies by briefly discussing symbolism and blends, among other things.
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Why is it important?
Chinese president Xi Jingping initiated the "Belt and Road" initiative in 2013, positioning China as a key player in global politics. The five clips we analyze exemplify this strategy. Since the clips are in Chinese, but are subtitled in English, it is clear they aim to reach both Chinese and international audiences. For this reason, it is worthwhile saying something about which aspects of their meaning are presumably universally comprehensible, and which aspects depend on native knowledge of China's language and culture.
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This page is a summary of: Making cross-cultural meaning in five Chinese promotion clips: Metonymies and metaphors, Intercultural Pragmatics, April 2020, De Gruyter, DOI: 10.1515/ip-2020-0007.
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Making cross-cultural meaning in five Chinese promotion clips: Metonymies and metaphors
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Link to paper on the journal's website
Metonymy and metaphor are fundamental and ubiquitous meaning-generating tropes that operate on a conceptual, not just a verbal, level. The goal of this paper is to demonstrate to scholars outside of the Conceptual Metaphor Theory and Conceptual Metonymy paradigm how these two tropes cue meaning verbally, visually, musically, sonically, and multimodally in five Chinese clips promoting Chinese cities and Chinese trade fairs, all produced after, and in the spirit of, president Xi Jinping’s “Belt and Road” initiative (2013). We also pay attention to how interpretations are to some extent bound to differ depending on whether the audience does or does not have detailed knowledge of Chinese culture. We end by briefly arguing that a full analysis of the clips – as indeed of most discourses – requires awareness of yet other tropes as well as expertise in other humanities disciplines. Keywords: conceptual metonymy; conceptual metaphor; multimodal tropes; Chinese promotional clips
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