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Abstract

This article looks at the semantic space of abstract and concrete concepts from the perspective of distributed models of conceptual representations. It focuses on abstract metaphorical classes and the mechanisms through which these concepts are processed. When the metaphor X is a Y is understood, X is included in the abstract metaphorical class of Y. This metaphorical class is abstract because the most of semantic features of Y are filtered out through a suppressiveoriented mode of processing. It is suggested that abstract metaphorical classes of living things are usually defined by a single or a very small set of semantic features. Therefore, such metaphorical classes are highly abstract. On the other hand, abstract metaphorical classes of nonliving things are defined by a relatively larger cluster of semantic features. Therefore, abstract metaphorical classes of nonliving things have a relatively higher degree of concreteness compared to those of living things. In other words, abstract metaphorical classes of living things and nonliving things are rather different in terms of nature and the structure of semantic space.
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Abstract

The domain of motion events is widely used to metaphorically describe abstract concepts, particularly emotional states. Why motion events are effective for describing abstract concepts is the question that this article intends to answer. In the literature of the field, several reasons have been suggested to be behind the suitability of motion events for describing these concepts, such as high concreteness of motion events, their high imageability, and the ability of comprehender to simultaneously imagine components of motion events. This article suggests that motion events are particularly effective for metaphorical description of those domains which have the feature of dynamic change over a period of time. This is particularly the case with emotional states. Since changes in emotions take place throughout a period of time, they could best be described by motion events which have the same feature. In other words, the continuous change in emotions is understood in terms of continuous change in the location of a moving object in the 3D space. Based on the arguments of embodied theories of cognition, it would be no surprise to see the involvement of similar areas of the brain in understanding emotions and motions.
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