The quest for the universality of rights has been the focus of many scholarly debates in the ‘West’. When ‘universality’ refers to ‘rights’, it can mean various things, including a universal foundation for rights despite the differences between languages and cultures across the world. In recent years, the study of metaphor has started garnering attention in legal language studies. Some metaphors in different tongues have a common bodily foundation that prevails over the countless differences in the peoples around the world. Do rights metaphors in different languages reveal a universal foundation of rights? Or is there at least a common foundation for the concept of RIGHT in its not strictly legal sense? By studying metaphors in three large linguistic databases for British English and Mandarin Chinese, this study has found that RIGHT has no universal foundation, and that, in this regard, rights are not universal. This study has also highlighted that the conceptual metaphor theory has been subject to some misinterpretation, and caution is needed to avoid reaching conclusions about the universality of legal notions that are supported or rejected by it in appearance only.

On the universality of rights through their metaphors

Mannoni Michele
2022

Abstract

The quest for the universality of rights has been the focus of many scholarly debates in the ‘West’. When ‘universality’ refers to ‘rights’, it can mean various things, including a universal foundation for rights despite the differences between languages and cultures across the world. In recent years, the study of metaphor has started garnering attention in legal language studies. Some metaphors in different tongues have a common bodily foundation that prevails over the countless differences in the peoples around the world. Do rights metaphors in different languages reveal a universal foundation of rights? Or is there at least a common foundation for the concept of RIGHT in its not strictly legal sense? By studying metaphors in three large linguistic databases for British English and Mandarin Chinese, this study has found that RIGHT has no universal foundation, and that, in this regard, rights are not universal. This study has also highlighted that the conceptual metaphor theory has been subject to some misinterpretation, and caution is needed to avoid reaching conclusions about the universality of legal notions that are supported or rejected by it in appearance only.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11562/1051936
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