The Conceptual Structure of Fear

Zoltán Kövecses, PhD, DSc, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest

My goal in this paper is to characterize the conceptual structure of fear as it is revealed in the conventionalized linguistic expressions speakers of English use to describe fear. In other words, I describe the language-based folk theory of fear. More specifically, I suggest that the conceptual structure of fear consists, similar to other emotions, of certain basic types of conceptual elements, or ingredients: conceptual metaphors (like FEAR IS A NATURAL FORCE), conceptual metonymies (like AGITATION FOR FEAR), and what are called cognitive models. The metaphors provide much of the conceptual content of fear. The metonymies correspond to the physiological, behavioral, and expressive responses associated with fear. And finally, the prototypical cognitive model associated with fear represents the conceptual category of fear.

The 2007 Conference