A cognitive linguistic exploration of metaphors within the WATER frame in Swami Vivekananda’s Complete Works: A corpus-driven study in light of conceptual metaphor theory

  • Suren Naicker
Keywords: Vedanta, conceptual metaphor theory, cognitive linguistics


This article investigates the use of metaphorical language in The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda1. Vivekananda is one of the most important modern-day Hindu scholars, and his interpretation of the ancient Hindu scriptural lore has been very influential. Vivekananda’s influence was part of the motivation for choosing his Complete Works as the empirical domain for the current study. AntConc was used to mine Vivekananda’s Complete Works for water-related terms, which seemed to have a predilection for metaphoricity. Which terms to search for specifically was determined after a manual reading of a sample from the Complete Works. The data were then tagged using a convention inspired by the well-known Metaphor Identification Procedure – Vrije University (MIPVU). Thereafter, a representative sample of the data was chosen, and the metaphors were mapped and analysed thematically. Four of these are expounded upon in this article. This study’s main aim was to investigate whether Hindu religious discourse uses metaphors to explain abstract religious concepts, and, if so, whether this happens in the same way as in Judaeo-Christian traditions. One of the key findings in this article is that neo-Hindu thought, as reconceptualised by Vivekananda, relies very little on the FAMILY frame when conceptualising abstract philosophical ideals, and instead draws on the domain of WATER more often.

Keywords: Vedanta, conceptual metaphor theory, cognitive linguistics


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2223-9936
print ISSN: 1027-3417