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Abstract Foolen

The heart in German and Dutch phraseology

This paper focuses on phraseological expressions in German and Dutch, in which the heart (G. Herz, D. hart) is a central component. The question to be answered is in how far the two languages differ in their inventory of ‘heart-phraseologies’ and in the meanings that are expressed by them. The paper will be based on a corpus of 300 German and 300 Dutch expressions, taken from electronically available data (for German the DWDS-corpus , Digitales Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache, for Dutch an INL-corpus, made available by the Institute for Dutch Lexicography).

The paper is motivated by the following general considerations.

1. Phraseological research and Cognitive Linguistics are natural candidates for an alliance (cf. Fleischer 1997: 239-40). On the one hand, phraseological expressions can be seen as low-level constructions (with open and filled slots), on the other hand, they typically involve metaphorical and metonymic meaning relations between the literal and the phraseological meaning. Both properties relate to central concerns in Cognitive Linguistics (Construction Grammar and Imagery).

2. Phraseological research has shown that body parts play an important role in the phraseological inventory of many languages (cf. Dobrovol’skij 1988:127), which leads to so-called ‘somatisms’. This finding has a clear counterpart in the programmatic role that embodied cognition plays in Cognitive Linguistics.

3. Among the body parts, the heart has a strong experiential presence (cf. the theme session at ICLC 9, Seoul, 2005: Looking for the mind inside the body: Conceptualizations of ‘Heart’ and other internal body organs across languages and cultures). This explains the many phraseological expressions in languages involving the heart.

4. Šileikaitė (2004) has shown that German differs from Lithuanian and Georgian in that the latter two languages have relatively more heart-expressions pertaining to negative emotions (sadness, grief) than German. This might have to do with different cultural models. It is to be expected that the cultural models that play a role in German and Dutch are quite simialr, but differences in detail are to be expected.



Dobrovol’skij, Dmitrij (1988) Phraseologie als Objekt der Universalienlinguistik. Leipzig: VEB Verlag Enzyklopädie.

Fleischer, Wolfgang (1997) Phraseologie der deutschen Gegenwartssprache. 2. Auflage. Tübingen: Niemeyer.

Šileikaitė, Diana (2004) Der Somatismus ‘Herz’ als phraseologisches Weltbildelement im Deutschen, Litauischen und Georgischen. Kalbotyra 54 (3), 1-10.