Have a Look at Weather Metaphor in English and

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Have a Look at Weather Metaphors
in English and Vietnamese
Buøi Ngoïc Baûo Vi
Lecturer: Nguyeãn Ngoïc Vuõ
December 2009
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When studying one language, it is necessary not only study vocabulary,
grammar, reading, writing, speaking or listening, but also to know how to use language
in natural way. Metaphor is specially used in daily life in any languages. In both spoken
language and literature language, metaphor can be frequently appeared. As soon as
understanding the message of each metaphor, learners can easily communicate with
native speakers naturally.
What is metaphor?
Generally, metaphor is one kind of comparisons. It is “the expression of an
understanding of one concept in terms of another concept, where there is some similarity
or correlation between the two”
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(http://www.sil.org/linguistics/GlossaryOfLinguisticTerms/WhatIsAMetaphor.htm). In
simple words, Metaphor is used to compare between two things based on their similarity
without appearance of the comparative words such as “like” or “as”. Therefore, metaphor
is an implicit comparison. To understand metaphor, background of the metaphor images
or ideas should be known. For example, in the sentence “Your insincere apology just
added fuel to the fire”, we have to know the result of “add fuel to the fire”. This action
can make the fire burn stronger, more dangerous. Based on this knowledge, the sentence
can be made sense that “your insincere apology” just make her angrier and the situation
The reasons why people love metaphor in their conservation or literature are:
Metaphor can bring more messages than one word or one phrase can as well as
showing finesse in formal cases.
Metaphor can help speaking and writing picturesque and attracting.
Metaphor can make listeners and readers to think about what metaphor imply
according to indirect state relationship
A lot of topics of metaphors and many kinds of metaphors are employed in
spoken language but the main topic focus of this focuses on the weather metaphors, a
kind of dead metaphors that can be found in dictionary. It means that words or images
related to weather are used as metaphor. It doesn’t only appear in English language but
also in Vietnamese language. From one view, they share outlook with each other but
from another view they are still different.
Weather can be cold, warm, hot, cool, sunny, windy, stormy… It can be very
exciting but can be hard. Look at “weather” in idioms: “Weather a storm”. “A storm” is
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crisis or trouble, if you weather a storm, you can overcome hard times. “Under the
weather”, you feel little sick, tired, sad or lack of energy. “She made heavy weather of
her new job”. She dues with the hardship of her new job, and now everything becomes
better to her.
Whenever we talk about the sun, we can imagine the light, the bright, the new, the
happy, the important so that the sentence “She has a sunny smile” or “You are the
sunshine of my life" implies that she is very cheerful, her smile is full of happiness or you
are the most important part of my life, I can’t live without you. In Vietnamese we also
have the similar sentence “Em laø aùnh saùng cuûa cuoäc ñôøi anh”. “AÙnh saùng” is an
element which people need to survive, to live. “Happiness is light”. Or “she brought
sunshine into our dull lives”_ “Coâ aáy ñaõ mang aùnh saùng ñeán cho cuoäc ñôøi ñaày
baát haïnh cuûa chuùng toâi”. In contrast, the sunset informs that a day is ending,
everything in on the way of the end. It covers with sadness with the sun’s getting light
back. It is a signal of the darkness’s beginning. “He has entered his sunset years” means
he stepped the boundary of an old age and he is at the end of human life. “OÂng aáy ñaõ
ôû tuoåi xeá chieàu” shares the similar meaning.
The wind represents something strong, powerful or danger. When you “throw
caution to the wind”, you don’t care about the danger that can come to you, you begin to
take a risk. Or, you “sail close to the wind”. You go close to the dangerous things. “Gioù”
in Vietnamese is also demands, great difficulties. “Gioù to soùng caû” is challenges that
can be met in the life path. In addition, wind is free. It can come from anywhere and can
blow to any places so, wind is also considered as a direction. “Scattered to the four
winds” is described something goes out in all directions or “know which way the wind
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blows” shows the necessity that you should know how the thing develops and be ready
for it in the future. “Gioù chieàu naøo xoay chieàu aáy” or “Gioù chieàu naøo che chieàu
aáy”. Its direction can be changed in any way but if you take
The season, winter, spring, summer and autumn, is also a source of metaphor.
Four seasons have own character. It is spring with warmth that is the time flowers open,
everything awake after a long winter. The spring is the most beautiful in a year. Spring
means luck, happiness, cheer, and a beginning. “She is a spring of our family”. She
brings smile, happiness to our life so “coâ aáy laø muøa xuaân cuûa gia ñình chuùng
toâi”. Yet, winter is cold and gloomy. It is covered with white snow. Everyone searches
for a shelter to survive from a terrible winter. “She entered a spiritual winter”. Autumn is
sad, melancholy. It is a bridge to shift a sunny day to a frozen day. It is a bridge to go to
the end of the year. Autumn is metaphorically an old age, a near end of the life in “he
entered his autumn year”.
English words which are connected to temperature have metaphorical meanings
based on the feeling of users about it. For example, warmth is pleasant, comfortable.
“Warm people” or “a warm heart” are very kind, friendly, and always make everybody
around them happy and comfortable. In contrast, cold or frozen is unpleasant. “a frozen
heart” or “a cold person” is unemotional, unfriendly, lonely. Hot is an interesting
metaphor. “He is hot-tempered”. He is easily angry with a tiny reason. He can’t control
his emotion. “cool” is different. Cool is described as calm, not angry or emotional.“ He
has a cool head”. He still keeps his calm in a difficult situation or emergency. In addition,
“he is a cool boy” shows your admire because he is fashionable and attractive. However,
“he is a hot boy” is that he is very well-known. “Hot” carries the meanings of “anger” or
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“recent, fresh”. In Vietnamese, we also say “noùng” in condition “anh aáy noùng tính
laém” _ “He is hot tempered”, “ toâi môùi nhaän ñöôïc tin noùng hoãi töø anh aáy ñaây”
_ “ I have received hot news from him”.
Rain usually stops us from doing our jobs. It disinterests us. “Into each life some
rain must fall” is the bad or unfortunate things can happen to everyone at some time.
“Cuoäc ñôøi con ngöôøi cuõng seõ coù luùc soùng gioù”. Both “Soùng gioù” and “rain”
are related to hardship. For instant, “we save money for rainy day”_ we keep money for
some possible problem or difficulty in the future or “he rains on your parade”_ he ruins
your plans, your jobs or your pleasure. “Rain” is not usually used as metaphor of negative
meaning because Vietnam is a tropical nation with rain through the year. Rain is quite
friendly with Vietnamese, especially farmers in an agricultural country “Möa daàm thaém
laâu” or “Möa daàm laâu cuõng luït” takes a positive one. “Möa” is a small job which can
be little but a lot of light rain can make a great flood.. Instead, they are afraid of the
pulling down of storm, flood. They are enemies of farmers. In idiom, “Storm” or “flood”
is mentioned as destruction.
One still knows the causes after a storm and a flood. In “Calm before a storm” or
“ quiet before a storm”, “storm” implies a horrible or violent or terribly wrong thing,
activity, argument. “Gioâng toá”, “gioâng baõo” or “soùng gioù” owns the similar
meaning. “Cuoäc ñôøi toâi ñaày gioâng toá” or “cuoäc ñôøi toâi nay soùng gioù”_ I have
spent my life in difficulties.
The special point of using natural phenomenon as metaphor through daily
observation shows the rich imagine of human beings. “They showered her with birthday
gifts”. The word “showered with gifts” creates an image of a lot gifts around her in our
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mind immediately. It emphasizes how many presents she received in her birthday.
Sometimes, Vietnamese uses the sentence like that, but it is more natural with “coâ aáy
nhaän ñöôïc caû moät nuùi quaø”. “Gieo gioù gaët baõo”, “Gioù beân ñoâng, ñoäng beân
taây” or “saám beân ñoâng ñuïng beân taây” are some examples of this point. A storm is
contributed to by a lot of winds, although they are just small winds. Then, they together
build a storm, a bad result that one has to receive from what they have done_ “what goes
round goes round”. “ Gioù beân ñoâng ñuïng beân taây” or “saám beân ñoâng ñuïng beân
taây” prove that people observe weather phenomenon subtly. It is an interaction and a
transmission of electric current. From this point, they are used to imply someone “who
excuses himself, accuses himself”.
To take the meanings and messages of metaphorical images carrying, learners
have to pay attention to their literal meaning and use their knowledge and analytical mind
to find out their messages. It is not clearly straightforward work at all. As soon as you see
similar point of view of metaphor between your mother tongue and your second
language, it is undemanding for you to remember and use them in daily conservation.
Don’t think that it is waste of time to study it because metaphor is one of the favorite
ways employed to express one’s emotions, ideas, and love… There are a lot of types of
metaphors which can make learners surprised and interested but not just one _ weather as
metaphor. "The metaphor reminds us that the universe is full of cousins." ( J.D. Casnig)
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Work cited
Casnig, John D. “A Language of Metaphors”. Knowgramming. December 5th 2009
Vuõ Dung, Vuõ Thuyù Anh, Vuõ Quang Haøo. “Töø Ñieån Thaønh Ngöõ vaø Tuïc
Ngöõ Vieät Nam”. 1993. Haø Noäi: Nhaø xuaát baûn Giaùo duïc.
Lakoff,“What is a metaphor?”. LinguaLinks Library. January 5th 2004. December 10th
“Metaphors”. How-to-study. December 5th 2009. < http://www.how-to-study.com/studyskills/en/language-arts/7/metaphors/>
“Idiom Category: Weather”. Using English. August 6th 2009. December 10th 2009.