Original Research

The cup as metaphor and symbol: A cognitive linguistics perspective

Nerina Bosman
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 75, No 3 | a5338 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v75i3.5338 | © 2019 Nerina Bosman | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 November 2018 | Published: 03 June 2019

About the author(s)

Nerina Bosman, Department of Afrikaans, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Although the Afrikaans word beker carries strong religious and other connotations, among them references to the Eucharist cup, the contribution of this article is to highlight, within a cognitive semantics framework, the role that cognitive mechanisms such as metaphor and metonymy played in the creation of this symbol. The article aims to illustrate the following: that the two signs of the Christian Eucharist, the bread and the wine, are grounded in conceptual metaphors of eating and drinking; that two conceptual drink metaphors are present when the symbol of the cup is analysed; that a related concept, that of metonymy, acts as a cognitive trigger, thus enabling the realisation of the symbol; and that other factors such as culture and religious symbolism played a significant role in the whole process. A corpus linguistics methodology is used to identify expressions containing the word beker. In analysing the expressions, Conceptual Metaphor Theory is used as a theoretical framework. It is found that conceptual metaphors such as nourishment is drinking and suffering is drinking underlie metaphoric expressions with beker. The metonymy container [the cup] for contained [the wine or blood] plays an important role in enabling the metaphors. In the images of the Eucharist cup and the broken bread, powerful metaphors arising from our bodily experience, denoting suffering and death on the one hand, and joy, nourishment and life on the other hand, are united to form the symbol.


Keywords

Cup; Metaphor; Metonymy; Cognitive Semantics; Symbol; Conceptual metaphor theory; Eucharist; Wine; Blood

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