This paper aims to show that plant metaphors are being used as an efficient communicative tool in Mandarin Chinese. It discusses two kinds of plant metaphors, borrowed metaphors and assimilated metaphors, all of which are formed based on the similarity between plant and human being.
The borrowed metaphors are used to name plants such as flowers, trees, grasses through borrowing the terms of human body, family members, human behaviors, doctor's treatments, famous persons etc. These metaphors based on the metaphorical concept [植物是人] help the speaker to vividly refer plants and the hearer to have a good and easy grasp of the plants referred through association and inference.
The assimilated metaphors based on the metaphorical concept [人是植物] are used to compactly and vividly express person's specific features, such as personal appearance, property of age, character, status, behavior etc. These metaphors are interesting enough to fascinate the hearer, even though they are brief and compact.
In conclusion, plant metaphors, either borrowed or assimilated, are used to communicate various meanings and features in a vivid and compact manner, which helps the hearer to have a strong interest and an easy understanding of the delivered meanings and features in Mandarin Chinese.
This shows plant metaphors to be an efficient communicative tool.