Money metaphors in English and Romanian. A Comparative Approach
The paper aims to analyse conceptual categories clustered around money metaphors both in English and Romanian. It also explores the differences and similarities arising between the realization of this category of conceptual metaphors in Romanian and English, the mappings between Source Domain and Target Domain, the frequency of money metaphors, as well as the morphological realizations of this conceptual category. We will identify the metaphorical mapping which establishes between source domain and target domain. The first stage before embarking upon analysing and identifying conceptual metaphors is establishing the methods of annotation as well as the targets. Depending on the purpose of the research as well as on the length, the researcher can opt for manual processing or for electronic annotation, feeding the concordancing programs with headwords belonging to source domain and/or target domain. In our investigation we rely on previous research studies dealing with the figurative aspects of business language. The degree of interaction between source domain and target domain will also be mentioned.
Keywords: MetaphorsBusiness EnglishCorpus
The study of metaphors is approached from two perspectives: the traditional view and the cognitive
linguistic one. The difference between these two perspectives lies in the fact that in the traditional view
one word is used instead of another, while in cognitive linguistic view one conceptual domain is used
instead of another. In traditional view metaphors are seen as linguistic devices used with the purpose of
adorning language. (Kövecses, 2010). Conceptual Metaphor Theory came into picture with the seminal
1 This work was supported by a grant of the Romanian National Authority for Scientific Research and Innovation,
CNCS – UEFISCDI, project number PN-II-RU-TE-2014-4-2785.
work of Lakoff and Johnson (1980)
cognitive metaphors and linguistic metaphors. In
defines conceptual metaphors as follows:
A conceptual metaphor consists of two conceptual domains, in which one domain is
understood in terms of another. A conceptual domain is any coherent organization of
experience. The two domains that participate in conceptual metaphor have special
names. The conceptual domain from which we draw metaphorical expressions to
understand another conceptual domain is called
domain that is understood this way is the
domain that we try to understand through the use of the source domain. (Kövecses,
Kövecses (2010) clearly explains the difference between linguistic metaphors and conceptual
metaphors, he distinguishes conceptual metaphors from metaphorical linguistic expressions. According to
Kövecses metaphorical linguistic expressions are words, other linguistic expressions that come from the
language or terminology of the more concrete conceptual domain (i.e., domain B). (Kövecses, 2010. p.4).
Kövecses considers that the principle of motivation characterizes the cognitive linguistic view, while
predictability characterizes the traditional view of metaphor.
2. Literature review
Money metaphors have aroused linguists`interest. A comprehensive study of money approached
from a diachronic perspective was conducted by Tejada Caller and Guerra (2012), it analyses the way
money was perceived in classical Greek period 8th century BC- 6th century BC. The authors study the
way monetary vocabulary was perceived, i.e. in terms of wealth, value, means of exchange. The research
is based on corpus, the authors analyse Greek words which have meanings of coins and developed a clear
economic sense. Diachronically monetary vocabulary is referred to as means of exchange and the lexical
realizations are based on metonymy: utensils and substances for exchange, object for substance, object for
activity. The authors outline the following aspects: on the one hand the transformation of Greek
vocabulary which goes hand in hand with lexical development and enrichment and on the other hand the
cultural implications. From a lexical point of view the authors see an evolution from money seen as a
means of exchange to money seen as profit. The authors tried to reconstruct the cognitive models
associated with the concept of exchange with the help of interactional and habitual forms of behaviour
and with the help of vocabulary. The authors dwell on the idea that linguistic research is a useful tool in
discovering different stages of a country`s language and behaviour. The frame of material exchanges
shows a social and emotional perception of money, money gets mobile and countable, the ancient static
system turns dynamic, wealth becomes transactionable.
Mouton (2012) also draws on the historical perspective in the study of money metaphors. In the
in order to show how specific economic organs fit into the social body. In his opinion metaphors
underlying economic reasoning should be seen as flexible and dynamic processes rather than fixed static
systems. Mouton (2012) mentions researchers who find mappings between blood and money.Spencer
(1891, as cited in Mouton, 2012, p. 52) sees societies in terms of organisms, the lack of money in
primitive societies is analogous to the lack of blood in simple organisms.
In her study Towards a better understanding of metaphorical networks in the language of
economics: The importance of theory-constitutive metaphors, Resche (2012) dwells on economic and
business metaphors. She believes that liquid metaphors are fully exploited when dealing with money.
Resche (2012) identifies and analyses the metaphorical networks of the European monetary union before
the Euro was born as a marriage, a journey, a club, a construction, religion, a guest, transport, a building.
All these metaphorical branches share a common denominator: personification.
3. Research Methodology
Conceptual metaphors can be explored either by resorting to the lexical approach, advocated by
Zoltán Kövecses or by relying on corpus. The methodology we resort to is corpus-based, as we start from
the assumption that nowadays almost every attempt to study business metaphors is approached from a
corpus perspective. Corpora represent efficient tools in discovering and revealing linguistic metaphors,
they can facilitate both synchronic and diachronic study of metaphors. Arguments for resorting to corpora
include: they enable researchers to conduct quantitative analysis of conceptual metaphors, they draw on
the frequency of conceptual metaphors within a type of text or discourse, they open new avenues in the
study of conceptual metaphors. Consequently, a large number of linguists adhered to corpora in studying
business metaphors. In the following lines we will look at two different methods in the study of
conceptual metaphors: the lexical approach and the corpus-based one.
Zoltán Kövecses who advocates the lexical approach in the study of conceptual metaphors is of the
opinion that corpus linguistics can bring advances in the study of most common source domains and
target domains. The author believes that corpus linguistics which can give a better picture of all events
and actions and which he describes it as”a remarkable new tool in the study of metaphors that as far as I
can tell, mostly confirms but also often challenges and requires us to modify the findings of conceptual
metaphor theory”. (Kövecses, 2010, p.27).
For conducting a corpus-based analysis the researcher has to compile a corpus, establish the
concordancing program to be used, insert headwords in the concordancing programs, identify, interpret
and analyze the findings. The population of texts comprising the corpus depends on the purpose of the
analysis. This method is very efficient in analysing long texts, it also has the advantage that larger
categories of data can be processed and analysed. This method is promoted and adopted by Stefanowitsch
2006, Koller 2006, Deignan 2008. According to Anatol Stefanowitsch target domain can be investigated
with the help of key words-based method, he believes that this search can be fruitfully applied in the case
of target domains like economics. (Stefanowitsch, 2006a, p.3).
Stefanowitsch (2006) compares the two approaches in the investigation of conceptual metaphors,
namely the text-based analysis promoted by Zoltán Kövecses which deals with the ideological, social,
communicative and cultural functions of metaphors and the corpus-based method and he concludes by
saying that corpora open new vistas in investigating conceptual metaphors.
For our analysis we adopted the following methodology: we incorporated two parallel corpora,
one in English and another one in Romanian, both having the same structure and comprising similar
population of texts. The use of parallel corpora enables us to compare findings in English and Romanian,
as well as to analyse similarities and differences. The two corpora comprise 600,000 words each and they
were populated with business English and Romanian business texts retrieved from daily British and
Romanian newspapers (The Economist, The Telegraph, The Independent, The Guardian, Ziarul
Financiar, Capital, Adevarul financiar, Business Magazine). The time span for selecting the articles runs
for the duration of two years from 2013 to 2015. The articles from specialized and general newspapers
were selected at random from business/ economic section, financial, business, money, banking sections,
covering a large array of economic topics.
We resorted to the following methods of extracting conceptual metaphors from the corpus:
1. Manual annotation using the MIP method;
2. Automated annotation using the corpus-based approach. Automatic annotation was achieved in two
ways: a. searching for target domain; b. searching for source domain.
We will refer briefly to the advantages and disadvantages these two methods provide.The MIP method
(Metaphor Identification Procedure) for identifying conceptual metaphors was devised by the Pragglejaz
Group of linguists. This method can be successfully applied on small texts (Kövecses, 2010), it entails the
examination of the contextual meanings of the lexical units comprising the text and it enables researchers
to identify various metaphoric expressions. MIP is advocated by Zoltán Kövecses who points out the fact
that conceptual metaphors typically employ a more abstract concept as target and a more concrete or
physical concept as their source (Kövecses, 2010, p.7). Before identifying conceptual metaphors Zoltán
Kövecses suggests we need to know which linguistic metaphors point to their existence, we need to
distinguish linguistic metaphors from unmetaphorical (literal) linguistic items (Kövecses, 2010, p.4-5).
Manual annotation comprises several stages: identification of the metaphoric expressions, establishing the
source domain and target domain and identifying the entailments establishing between source domain and
target domain. The main disadvantage of manual annotation is that it is time-consuming and it limits the
size of the corpus, on the other hand it has the advantage that this type of annotation enables the
researcher to search for source domain and target domain vocabulary.
Automatic annotation relies on extraction from a corpus annotated for semantic fields, the
researcher can search for all lexical items belonging to a source domain. Our annotation consists of
inserting headwords clustered around the semantic field of money and cash and we can extend them to
profit, deposit, futures as well as their Romanian equivalents. The findings of automatic annotations were
then manually processed in order to identify the metaphorical uses of money.
We embrace the keywords-based method proposed by Stefanowitsch (2006), who suggests that we
choose a lexical item referring to the target domain under investigation and extract its occurrences from
the corpus. For our investigation, however, we opted for a combination of the two methods on the one
hand because the corpus-based approach identifies the general metaphors and on the other hand because
manual processing of the text is necessary in order to see the entailments between source domain and
4. Findings and results
The corpus-based approach enables us to draw on the frequency of headwords which may point to
the existence of conceptual metaphors. In the English corpus we identified 400 hits of money, however
not all the uses of money are connected with conceptual metaphors. The general idea pervading the texts
comprising both corpora is that money is an important aspect of contemporary economy, it is the engine
that drives a country`s economy. Money is seen as a valuable possession which must be well-managed
and taken care of, the owner must avoid putting money at risk. In comparison with conceptualisation of
money as identified and analysed by Tejada Caller and Guerra (2012) we may see that nowadays money
still maintains the conceptualisation of wealth, value, assets, profit. The Romanian corpus abound in the
uses of money seen as a very valuable resource.
4. 1. Banks are containers for money
Source domain: money
Target domain: economic transactions.
1.be zero. There is a ready alternative to keeping
2.The banks have simply absorbed the cost of deposits (ʺNegative interest rates: Bankers v
mattressesʺ, 2015), banks are containers for money
3. Long-term returns from private equity have been better (14% annualised over the past decade, according to Bain, a consultancy), but the industry is not large enough to
absorb huge amounts of pension money. (ʺInvesting in a world of low yields. Many unhappy returns.
Pension funds and endowments are too optimisticʺ, 2015)
4. un magazin de lux înghite mulţi bani ca investiţie (ʺLux de criză... reduceri de până la
70% în magazinele de pe Victorieiʺ, 2013)
4. 2. Money is a liquid
This conceptual category is morphologically realized by means of verbs such as:
flow, to pump.
1.A further cut in the ECB’s deposit rate of 0.2 percentage points could squeeze the net profits of European banks by 6%, according to Autonomous Research. (ʺNegative interest rates:
Bankers v mattressesʺ, 2015)
2. credit far more reliably than dispersed flows of
idea that non-banks (Jenkins, 2014)
3. on/2013-05-25> FOR the past three years, foreign
Greece. But the tide may. (ʺGreek banks redux. System reboot. Recapitalisation approaches the
finishing lineʺ, 2013)
4. es). Perhaps Silicon Valley has so much cash that
New York. But venture c (ʺBuzzfeed and online news. Which media company are you? How a young
company plans to take on the news Leviathans, 2014)
5. y railways is tailing off but it is still pumping
Bangalore’s metro opene (ʺMetro systems. Going Underground. Subways are spreading fastʺ, 2013)
6. over their entire portfolio in a year. If enough
products, then they wi (ʺFund management. The rise of smart beta. Terrible name, interesting trendʺ,
7. or stemming unwelcome inflows and outflows of hot
inflows in 2009-10 (EC, 2013) (ʺWorld economy. The gated globe. The forward march of
globalisation has paused since the financial crisis, giving way to a more conditional, interventionist and
nationalist model. Greg Ip examines the consequencesʺ, 2013)
8. er €400 billion available to them from September.
seek alternatives as banks leave them in the lurchʺ, 2014)
9. s is not the only consideration. They have poured
to promote the country (ʺEtihad. Flying against convention. The ambitious airline is trying a riskier
route to expansion than its Gulf rivalsʺ, 2014)
10. the big banks will require an injection of €14.4 billion (ʺRecapitalising Greek banks.
The damageʺ, 2015)
11. e anecdote holds a number of lessons: how quickly
market; how trivial t (ʺCME Group. The futures of capitalism. The biggest financial exchange you
have never heard ofʺ, 2013)
12.It is customary for the central bank to pump out
weeklong holidays, one o (ʺChina’s economy. A test of will. After a sharp slowdown, stimulus is
back on the agendaʺ,2014)
13. hort of taking control, it is limited to offering
route to expansion than its Gulf rivalsʺ, 2014)
14. cât sunt de ingenioşi străinii
în continuare, dev (Ancutescu, 2014)
15 fiind ultima lună în care mai pot fi absorbiţi
16. Retailerii continuă să pompeze
în (Roșca, 2013)
17. FOR the past three years, foreign money has been flooding out of Greece (ʺGreek banks
redux. System reboot. Recapitalisation approaches the finishing lineʺ, 2013)
18. banii injectaţi de francezi pe plan local, potrivit estimărilor Business Magazin.
The morphological realization of conceptual metaphors in the Romanian corpus makes use of verbs such
as: a absorbi, a pompa, a stoarce.
4. 3. Business is war
The ECB is not alone in testing the lower bound to interest rates. Denmark’s central
bank has set its main policy rate below zero for much of the past three years to repel capital inflows that had threatened its exchange-rate peg with the euro. (ʺNegative
interest rates: Bankers v mattressesʺ, 2015)
4. 4. Money is wealth/ Cash is wealth
At dairy group Parmalat, where Mr Mosetti sits on the board, Amber is challenging a move by French majority shareholders Lactalis to use a cash pile by Parmalat to buy out
Lactalis’s US business. (Sanderson, 2013)
Developing the deposits, which are in ultra-deep waters and buried under rocks and a
thick layer of salt, will require oceans of cash. (ʺBrazil’s oilfields. Back in business. Strong
bidding for exploration rights ends the industry’s long dry spellʺ, 2013).
This conceptual category is mainly expressed by means of nouns.
The costs of counting, storing, moving and insuring lorry-loads of banknotes apparently trumps the smallish charge Europe’s central banks are levying to hold electronic deposits. (ʺNegative interest rates: Bankers v mattressesʺ, 2015)
4. 5. Economy is an engine
1. up with having to pay banks simply to park their
2.Low returns are like a car with a fuel leak; it can still be driven for a while before
it grinds to a halt. (ʺInvesting in a world of low yields. Many unhappy returns. Pension funds and
endowments are too optimisticʺ, 2015).
3. and that money is fuelling consumer spending(Walker, 2015)
Within this category we identified a sub-category: Money is a vehicle/ Cash is a vehicle:
Mark Haefele, the bank's investment guru, said his clients are growing wary of bonds but
do not know where to park their money instead. (Evans-Pritchard, 2015)
55 lenders a year later. But the long slow flight of
An equivalent in the Romanian corpus is a plasa, there is no figurative meaning entailed: Numai că
realitatea ne-a arătat că cine ar fi plasat banii în depozite în dolari ar fi scos
după un an o sumă mai mica (Pîrloiu, 2013).
4. 6. Time is money
Source domain: money
Target domain: money
Greece and its creditors remain at loggerheads and time is running out to secure a deal
before funding expires, yet investors in Europe appear remarkably relaxed. (Moore, 2015)
4. 7. More is up
Any form of pre-paid card, such as urban-transport passes, gift vouchers or mobile-phone SIMs could double up as zero-yielding assets. If interest rates became deeply negative, it would turn business conventions upside down (ʺNegative interest rates: Bankers v mattressesʺ,
4. 8. Less is down
I was broke. I’d studied PPE [philosophy, politics, and economics], which was completely useless but I was very lucky because I had three or four job offers. I had no idea really what Shell did. I took it because they were offering to pay me 50 quid more than Morgan Grenfell [the merchant bank] and I needed the money,” Taylor says, laughing.
4. 9. Personification
1. Capital is blind. (ʺBanks and commodity trading. Sell signals. Banks are scrambling to ditch their
commodity-trading businessesʺ, 2014)
2. It is a Black Friday filled with uncertainty for the made-in-America retailer, which filed for bankruptcy last month after bleeding money for years. (Tabuchinov, 2015)
4. 10. Proverbs
4. 11. Healthy economy is a healthy organism
Analysts at Exane BNP Paribas, a broker, estimate that currency hedging, among other costs attributed to Santander’s “corporate centre
proving a headache for big Spanish banksʺ,2015)
4. 12. Economic vitality is the vitality of an organism
The manual and automatic annotation of the corpus leads us to the conclusion that a manual
processing of the text is more accurate, more comprehensive and yields more results in comparison with
the corpus-based one. It also enables the identification of a higher number of conceptual metaphors. Due
to the length of the corpora we had to resort to both types of annotation.
In terms of frequencty the English occurrences of money and its semantic field outnumber the
ones in the Romanian corpus, on the other hand the use of money in the English corpus highlights a more
positive overtone, while in the Romanian corpus negative connotations of money occur more often. The
second headword we searched for cash and its Romanian equivalent yields more hits in the English
corpus in comparison with the Romanian one. None of the hits containing the word numerar highlights
the existence of conceptual metaphors. Moreover, we identified the same metaphor created by the same
journalist ocurring two times in the Romanian corpus, which points again to the conventionality of
Not all money and money-related conceptual metaphors explicitly comprise the word money or its
Romanian equivalent bani, or other words from the semantic field of money. Such metaphors are difficult
to identify with the help of concordancing programs. The metaphors identified by us pinpoint the
figurative load of business and economic genre, the English corpus is more laden with figurative and
metaphorical uses of money than the Romanian corpus. We may assume that the journalists` capacity of
coining new metaphors is in close connection with the three levels of metaphors as identified by
Kovecses (2010, p.307), mainly with the individual and supraindividual levels which highlight that the
British journalists master a higher creativity and have a capacity of creating more dynamic metaphors
compared to Romanian journalists who resort to conventional metaphors. The figurative uses have a
deeper load in the English corpus in comparison with the Romanian one, bearing the influence of context,
culture, political and historical environments.
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