Euphemistic Metaphors in English and Spanish Epitaphs: A Comparative Study

  • Eliecer Crespo-Fernández
Keywords: conceptual metaphor, euphemism, taboo of death, epitaph, cross-cultural conceptualisations


Following the framework of Conceptual Metaphor Theory, it is the aim of this paper to analyse the conceptual organisation underlying death-related metaphorical expressions in English and Spanish. With this in mind, this paper presents a comparative study of death metaphors in a sample of epitaphs from Highgate Cemetery (London, UK) and from the Cemetery of Albacete (Albacete, Spain) focusing specifically on those aimed at substituting the notions of ‘death’ and ‘dying’. The results obtained reveal that the conceptual organisations that underlie the euphemistic metaphors for death in English and Spanish derive both from our common bodily experience and from specific cultural constraints. Although the set of conceptual metaphors for the domain of death is similar in both languages, the Spanish epitaphs show a clear preference for source domains in which Jewish-Christian beliefs and political issues play a crucial role, whereas the English epitaphs tend to display a more optimistic, life-like approach to death.

Author Biography

Eliecer Crespo-Fernández
Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha