Topic metaphors in European languages

Anton Granvik


This paper deals with the semantic notion “topic”, understood broadly as the notion of ‘aboutness’ as in “to talk about stars,” and describes its various forms of expression across ten European languages. The aim is to explore and characterise how topic is construed, that is, which underlying conceptualisations are involved in the metaphorical expressions used to refer to this notion. The description is based on ten parallel versions of A. St. Exupéry’s famous novel Le Petit Prince. The analysis highlights the most salient metaphors that are found in European languages and points at some differences in the topic markers used across languages. The most revealing conceptualisation of topic involves what I have called the revolving metaphor, in which the topic is seen as the centre around which our discussion or thoughts revolve, as in my thoughts revolved around her. The paper ends with a tentative discussion of to what degree the different topic metaphors can be considered dead or alive.


conceptual metaphor; topic-marking expressions; prepositional semantics; cross-linguistic analysis; Le Petit Prince

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Moderna språk - Romanska och klassiska institutionen - Stockholms universitet - SE-106 91 STOCKHOLM
ISSN: 2000-3560