A Bolt from the Blue: Analyzing the Surprise in the English Proverbs

This study delves into the complex world of cognitive semantics and utilizes qualitative methodology to analyze the element of surprise present in English proverbs. Proverbs are often considered sources of cultural wisdom, and this research aims to uncover the cognitive processes that lead to the unexpected twists and turns that evoke surprise within these linguistic expressions. By applying cognitive semantics analysis, the study explores the intricate interplay between language, thought, and cultural context to show how surprise functions as a rhetorical device. Through an in-depth qualitative exploration, the research seeks to uncover the underlying cognitive mechanisms responsible for creating and interpreting surprising elements within proverbs, offering valuable insights into the complex landscape of human cognition and communication. The results show that (1) metaphorical expressions, semantic shifts and idiomatic language were observed to intensify element of surprise by manipulating established linguistic norms to subvert anticipated meaning, (2) the creation and comprehension of surprise in proverbs rely heavily on conceptual blending and cognitive resonance, and (3) surprise acts as a cognitive hook by capturing attention and promoting cognitive engagement. To further develop this study, conducting cross-cultural studies could explore how cultural differences influence the perception of surprise in proverbs, revealing how cognitive mechanisms interact with diverse cultural backgrounds.

Keywords: cognitive semantics, English proverbs, linguistic expressions, surprise