The conceptualisation of science terminology: A cognitive linguistic analysis of the categories electricity and light in Arabic


Keywords: conceptualisation, polysemy, prototype, idealised cognitive models, conceptual metonymy, conceptual metaphor


The present article focuses on the conceptual structures of two Arabic words which are used in both everyday life and science: كَهْرَبَاء (kahrabāʾ) (electricity) and ضَوْء (ḍawʾ) (light). Under a cognitive linguistics approach, the polysemy of these terms, revealed in the citations extracted from ArabiCorpus, is studied. More specifically, the analysis of the terms involves the polysemy or ‘radial category’ along with its prototypical and peripheral meanings, and the main factors in projecting the idealised cognitive models (ICMs) where the radial categories are formed: conceptual metaphor and conceptual metonymy. The results indicate that power and knowledge motivate the conceptualisations that underpin the categories كَهْرَبَاء (kahrabāʾ) (electricity) and ضَوْء (ḍawʾ) (light) respectively. Using such non-scientific conception in understanding the scientific senses of these terms leads to students’ confusion and failure to understand them. To ensure that students construe the scientific concepts correctly, they must be mindful of the inconsistency between their non-scientific and scientific meanings.