An Investigation into EFL Learners’ Translations of Metaphors from Cognitive and Cultural Perspectives

Yi-chen Chen


The study investigates how EFL learner-translators deal with metaphors and how cognitive factors and cultural background influence their choices. An English-to-Chinese translation task consisting of 20 English sentences was given to 70 Taiwanese university students; each sentence contains a figurative expression that falls into the categories in the cognitive cultural models (Kövecses, 2005). The students’ performances on the task were rated; quantitative analyses show that the students performed significantly better on translating metaphors whose conceptual metaphors exist in both languages than on metaphors whose conceptual metaphors are exclusive to English. Additionally, twenty students were selected for post-task interviews; qualitative analyses indicate that sentence context, concerns over style and register, and translators’ personal preferences affected their choices while translating. Communicative strategies, like providing neutral meanings to avoid uncertain translation, were adopted. The results contribute to the literature on and pedagogical applications for EFL learner translators from both cognitive and cultural aspects.


Cognitive Linguistics, Conceptual Metaphor, Communicative Strategies, Translation, EFL

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