Soul-searching in Shakespeare
Heli Tissari, Research Unit for Variation, Contacts and Change in English, University of Helsinki
This article is based on the idea that the concept of soul concerns several key issues in human life: the source of life, cognition and emotion, personality characteristics, social relationships, and human destiny. It suggests that blending theory is a good tool for pointing out relationships between the concept of soul and other clusters of related concepts. The article begins by sketching some of the ideas that Shakespeare’s concept of soul has in common with another text, just to emphasise how fascinating a concept soul is, and how much potential it has for cognitive linguistic research. Shakespeare’s Works provide an interesting window to the human soul, whether one believes in its literal existence or not. The article then proceeds to briefly discuss blending theory and to look at the senses of the noun soul in three dictionaries, the Oxford English Dictionary, the Middle English Dictionary, and Onions’s A Shakespeare Glossary. Having introduced the main ingredients of the meaning of the noun soul, this article discusses the concept of soul with selected examples from Shakespeare’s Works, excluding much of Shakespeare’s contemporary theology in order to focus on some of the most abstract and potentially most universal characteristics of the concept. The following section on Shakespeare’s contemporary psychology nevertheless anchors Shakespeare’s usage of the noun soul to some features of Early Modern European thought. Finally, the article closes with a discussion of the relevance of this study to cognitive linguistics and the study of the concept of mind. 
soul, Shakespeare, cognitive linguistics, blending theory, mind
Because this is a lengthy article, let us begin by outlining its structure. The introduction consists of four parts: an introduction to the structure of this article, a summary of some textual conventions, an illustrative example of how the noun soul has been used in a poem and of what makes the concept of soul interesting to research, and background information concerning the use of blending theory in this article. Blending theory was developed within the field of cognitive linguistics by Fauconnier and Turner (1998, 2002), and its purpose is to describe human concept-formation. Turner (2004) deals with the concept of ghost in Shakespeare’s Hamlet and touches upon the concept of soul, but focuses on literary interpretation rather than the semantics of these particular words. 
The second part of this article deals with the issue of how three dictionaries define the noun soul. The idea of this section is to further familiarise the readers with the concept of soul, and/or to remind them of various senses of the noun soul, before embarking on the actual analysis of data from Shakespeare.
The third part of this article consists of an analysis of the 599 occurrences of the noun soul in Shakespeare’s Works (Wells & Taylor 1989). The original aim of this study was to see which conceptual metaphors occur with the word soul. However, having read through and annotated the data with regard to the metaphors, I became interested in how the concept of soul brings together a network of central concepts concerning human life. Above all, this seems to result from the dichotomy between the human body seeming to attest both a life and a soul, and the difficulty if not impossibility of pinning either down to any part of the body. I decided to change my approach and to sketch some of the most interesting characteristics of the concept of soul as reflected by the Shakespeare data, and to use blending theory to illustrate them. Having sketched these characteristics in the form of a list of ideas, I checked my analysis and used the data as a resource for examples.
The fourth part of this article relates some of the findings to medieval and Renaissance thought. It could be placed before the analysis, but I decided to keep it after the analysis in order to first relate some medieval and Renaissance ideas which could be studied further and then, in the discussion, also touch upon the more general relevance of this study to cognitive linguistic research. While the primary aim of this study is to show that a blending analysis of Shakespeare’s usage of the noun soul reveals fascinating insights into his contemporary world-view, the secondary aim is to show that the concept of soul holds great potential for further research as regards languages around the world.
Small capitals will be used to emphasise concepts such as soul. Note that this does not mean that the noun soul will be capitalised every time it is used, but rather, it is capitalised when there is a wish to focus on soul as a concept. Italics will be used to emphasise linguistic forms, whereas small capitals will also be used to emphasise conceptual metaphors such as love is fire and conceptual metonymies, such as the metonymy the name of an author for an author. A conceptual metaphor suggests that two concepts, such as love and fire, are associated with each other in the human mind, so that the target concept (love) receives characteristics of the source concept (fire). The verb be which connects these two concepts in the formal expression love is fire suggests this connection, while in the formal expression the name of an author for an author, the preposition for suggests that one thing replaces another. This occurs, for example, when one refers to Shakespeare’s texts as Shakespeare (see e.g. Lakoff & Johnson 1980, Kövecses 2002).
Above all, this article will discuss various senses of the noun soul. These will sometimes appear as a list. Otherwise, they will come in single brackets (‘quintessence’). As regards blending theory, it will be used to ‘de-construct’ the meaning of the noun soul into further elements. Such elements will either appear (1) as regular text, presenting ‘ideas in the mind’, so to speak (e.g. the knowledge that people and their behaviour are either good or bad), (2) in small capitals, emphasising that the component is metaphorical (the soul is a container) or metonymic (the individual stands for the soul), and (3) as text in figures used to illustrate the components of the concept of soul (e.g. an individual is either good or bad).
To illustrate some interesting characteristics of the concept of soul, I shall begin with a quotation from Edgar Allan Poe’s famous poem The Raven. The poem not only repeats the word soul, but contains other elements which can also be found in connection with this word in Shakespeare. Here is a single stanza where the raven knocks at the poet’s door:
(1) Then into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon I heard again a tapping somewhat louder than before.
‘Surely,’ said I, ‘surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore –
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; –
’Tis the wind, and nothing more!
This article will show that Shakespeare’s plays and poetry locate the soul in a living person, and suggest that the soul leaves a dead person in the form of breath, or flying like a bird through the air. These ideas potentially correspond with the wind and the raven in the poem, where the lover is pondering over his late beloved and feels her presence in terms of the wind blowing and the raven entering his room.
Moreover, this article will show that people in Shakespeare’s texts converse with or within their souls, in the way the speaker in Poe’s poem speaks to himself. When Shakespearian characters speak with or within their souls, it is often a matter of love, life, or death – at least of dealing with difficult emotions, as in the poem.
In Shakespeare, the soul’s containment in a person’s body means that the soul may seek openings through which it could be released from its prison, or it may be forced out of a body through the act of killing. Similarly, in Poe’s poem, we potentially see a dead soul returning to its beloved through the window lattice. Should we interpret the raven as an evil spirit, or even the devil himself, we would still remain within the domain of concepts associated with the soul in Shakespeare, because spiritual powers are on occasions mentioned there to discuss the soul’s contact to the otherworld. 
All this means that this article only scratches the surface of a large research topic. One could broaden the study of Shakespeare’s concept of soul to include more information about him and his texts, and one could take into account more information concerning the Renaissance and medieval setting of his texts, then relate it to further times and places in the history of the English language. Perhaps even more importantly, though, one could broaden the study to include similar concepts throughout the world. The point of this small study is to whet the appetite for such potential future enterprises.
The reason for choosing blending theory to illustrate the complexities of the concept of soul as portrayed in Shakespeare was largely practical as well as theoretical, since I was already somewhat familiar with the theory. The original plan was to discuss the concept of soul in terms of conceptual metaphor theory, but blending theory seemed to suit the topic better, because it could highlight interesting aspects of the meaning of the noun soul without restricting the focus to any single mode of figurative language.
The background work for this article does not include a full quantitative blending analysis of the whole data (the data will be introduced at the beginning of the analysis in section 3.1), but rather consists of reading and analysing the data several times in order to understand qualitatively what kind of a world-view it represents. The analysis consisted in reading each example in turn and of making notes concerning the conceptual metaphors, conceptual metonymies, and potential blends which it represented. I did this twice, paying more attention to detail in the latter round, but rather than calculating any results, I picked up interesting themes to discuss in this article. In that sense, the study is not completely replicable.
Fauconnier and Turner suggest that complex concepts are formed through a process of integrating or ‘blending’ simpler concepts which occur in a mental network (1998, 2002). In its simplest form, conceptual blending occurs when two conceptual input spaces meet to form an output, a new concept. In the analysis, one distinguishes between the inputs, a middle stage called a generic space, which contains elements common to all input spaces, and the resulting output or blend (Fauconnier & Turner 2002, see in particular p. 45). This is illustrated in Figure 1. Note that each of the circles represents a conceptual space in the mind, ‘generic’ referring to the ‘(conceptual) elements common to the inputs’.
Figure 1. Conceptual integration or blending.
An important feature of the emergent blend, i.e. the new concept, is that it is not static, but can be further elaborated. The idea is that when two or more conceptual inputs are paralleled in the human mind, many of the singular characteristics of the inputs fade into the background, while their shared characteristics receive corroborated weight; however, the result is not simply a sum of the shared characteristics of the inputs, but rather, the human mind is flexible and creates something which did not previously exist. To compare with baking, the ingredients which one puts into a cake do not in themselves resemble a cake; neither is the cake ready when all the ingredients have come together in the bowl. In Broccias’s words (2004: 576), “[c]rucially, the blend can develop structure of its own (i.e., structure which was not present in either input), which is known as ‘emergent structure’”.
To give a constructed example, let us imagine a child who is still learning to talk. While visiting his aunt, the child is recurrently told that the soft toy sitting on the aunt’s bed is a lion. But one day, the aunt takes away the lion and puts a soft otter in its place. When the child visits her, he calls the otter a lion as well. What has happened?
One can explain this as follows in terms of blending theory: In the generic space, we have a so-called organising frame, i.e. a conceptual frame that is common to both inputs. The organising frame consists of the aunt’s bed and a soft toy sitting on it. In the first input, the soft toy is represented by the lion, and called a lion, and in the second input, it is represented by the otter, which may not even have been named yet. In the blended space lies the child’s conclusion that any soft toy on the aunt’s bed can be called a lion.
Elaborating the blend, the child may believe that anything applying to the lion that used to sit on the bed can be applied to the otter as well. For example, he may say that the otter is yellow, although it is actually brown. Thus in the child’s world, a concept exists which is different from any adult’s concepts, the concept of yellow which covers both the yellow and brown colours. Or, if one replaces the otter in the second input with a dolphin, the child may not only call it a lion, but also call its fins paws, and so on. When the child begins to call the dolphin’s fins flaws or gives the dolphin a roaring-splashing sound when it jumps in the air, the blend has started to develop a rich structure of its own.
Fauconnier and Turner designed their theory to include several different kinds of networks of concepts, principles for the optimal functioning of blends, and other aspects of blends (1998, 2002). All of these cannot be taken into account within the space of this article, but some will be referred to. In other words, this article applies blending theory in a somewhat straightforward and adaptive manner, as a tool. This article is not aimed at a full-fledged, rigorous application of the theory; neither is it aimed at testing the strengths and weaknesses of the theory in order to develop the theory itself.
Coulson and Oakley (2000) is a relatively simple and short introduction to blending theory. They point out several problems with the theory (Coulson & Oakley 2000: 191–194), largely relying on Gibbs (2000). Although attracted to blending theory, Gibbs (2000) criticises it on two points in particular: that it cannot be used to make falsifiable predictions, and that Fauconnier and Turner (2002) apply it to many examples without seriously considering alternative explanations. These are also the main points noted by Broccias (2004), who would in some cases prefer to talk about abstraction, for example, rather than conceptual blending. Even with a view to these criticisms it must be noted that blending theory hardly specifies how meaning is represented in the mind (Gibbs 2000: 352).
Note also that science, not to mention human behaviour, is to a large extent a matter of concluding on the basis of deduction or induction; blending theory is simply one way to understand how the human mind works. Simultaneously, cognitive linguistics as defined by Lakoff & Johnson (1999), for example, attacks overly rigid, computational models of logic which do not consider the relationship of logic to human embodiment, and the flexibility of the human mind. 
This section deals with three dictionaries in order to check the meaning of the noun soul. These dictionaries are the Oxford English Dictionary (OED, 2009), the Middle English Dictionary (MED, 2001), and Onions’s A Shakespeare Glossary (1986 ).
The OED entry for the noun soul is, like many other of its entries, rather long and detailed. This nevertheless illustrates the complexity of the concept of soul.
To simplify matters a little, the OED distinguishes between fifteen senses of the noun. Compounds and phrases, as well as several sub-senses, are excluded from the following listing of the OED senses, which means that the numbers do not correspond to those in the original entry.
1. The principle of life in humans or animals.
2. The principle of thought and action in humans.
3. The seat of emotions, feelings, or sentiments; the emotional part of human nature. 4. The emotional or spiritual quality of Black American life and culture, manifested esp. in music.
5. The vital, sensitive, or rational principle in plants, animals, or human beings.
6. (a) A term of endearment or adoration.
(b) The personification of some quality.
(c) The inspirer or leader; the chief agent, prime mover, or leading spirit.
7. The essential, fundamental, or animating part, element or feature of something.
8. The spiritual part of a human being considered in its moral aspect or in relation to God.
9. The spiritual part of a human being regarded as surviving after death and as susceptible of happiness or misery in a future state.
10. The disembodied spirit of a (deceased) person.
11. A person, an individual, a living thing.
12. A person of a particular character or in respect of some quality.
13. One in whom the spiritual or intellectual qualities predominate.
14. The bore of a cannon.
15. The sound-post of a violin.
The OED emphasises the notion of soul as a principle, and gives many senses relating to the ‘essence’ sense of soul, yielding the idea that the soul has to do with fundamental characteristics of a human being (c.f. section 3.7). In brief, the OED relates the notion of soul to intellectual history, but since it is a dictionary, it does not give us a great deal of background information as regards the development of the concept of soul.
The OED nevertheless also suggests that English-speaking people, and even people around the world, understand the concept of soul in terms of the physical world. A quotation from the OED suggests that the soul has been associated with flying animals:
(2) To this day, in the north and west of England, the moths that fly into candles are called Saules. (OED n 12 c, a quotation dated 1861)
Another OED quotation from D. Jenness’s Indians of Canada confirms the idea that souls can exit and enter bodies, in this case even those of living people:
(3) Peculiar to the medicine-men of the Haida, Tlinkit, and Tsimshian was the use of a special ‘soul-catcher’, a bone tube, generally carved, for capturing the wandering souls of the sick and restoring them to their bodies. (OED n 26, dated 1932)
Such characteristics of the concept of soul suggest that it is an excellent topic for a cognitive linguistic study, because cognitive linguistics is interested in the universal versus language- and culture-specific characteristics of meaning, including embodiment and conceptual metaphors such as the body is a container.
The OED entry of soul, which may be assumed to reflect mainly a nineteenth-century world-view, can be compared with what the MED says about the medieval meaning of the noun. One notices that many of the senses are the same, or consist of similar elements as those in the OED. The following is, again, a simplified list, and the numbering is thus not identical to that in the MED:
1. The spiritual and rational element in man, understood to (a) animate and control the body; and (b) to have an eternal destiny as a moral agent.
2. An individual’s soul.
3. The disembodied spirit of a dead person between death and doomsday.
4. One of the three species or types of soul, giving, respectively, vegetable, animal, or rational life.
5. The soul’s faculty of understanding divine truths, contemplating divine mysteries, seeing visions, foreseeing the future, etc.
6. The mind, intellect; also, the imagination.
7. The seat of emotions, feelings, etc.
8. Will, purpose, desire.
9. A character in a play.
The MED seems to emphasise the spiritual and mystical aspects of the soul somewhat more than the OED. These are in fact relevant to understanding the meaning of soul in Shakespeare. Consider an example from Hamlet at a point where the ghost reveals to the prince that his uncle has killed his father:
(4) O my prophetic soul! Mine uncle? (1600–1, act I, scene V)
Moreover, as suggested by some MED sub-senses, Shakespeare also uses the noun soul “in oaths and asseverations”, and “in pious or imprecatory ejaculations” as in (5) and (6).
(5) If either of you know any inward impediment why you should not be conjoined, I charge you on your souls to utter it. (1598: Much Ado About Nothing, act IV, scene I)
(6) Good God the souls of all my tribe defend / From jealousy! (1603–4: Othello, act III, scene III)
Of the three dictionaries quoted here, Onions’s may be assumed to be the closest to Shakespeare’s usage. He gives the noun soul four different senses:
2. (used periprahrastically) I, you, etc.
3. (metaphysics) The vital, sensitive, or rational principle in plants, animals, or human beings.
4. Element, principle, trace (of something).
Three of these four senses correspond to OED and MED definitions of soul. ‘Quintessence’ relates to the OED sense ‘the essential, fundamental, or animating part, element or feature of something’ (7); ‘the vital, sensitive, or rational principle in plants, animals, or human beings’ is the same as the OED sense 5 and the MED sense 4; and ‘element, principle, trace (of something)’ connects to several OED senses including the words element and principle.
However, it is more difficult to understand the periphrastic sense 2. An examination of the occurrences of the noun soul in Shakespeare nevertheless soon reveals that Onions is only stating the obvious. For example, the phrase my soul’s is used exclusively in this sense, as in:
(7) There is the man of my soul’s hate (1608: Coriolanus, act I, scene V)
Now that the reader has some idea of what kind of things the noun soul is associated with, it seems possible to move on to the actual analysis. As stated in the abstract, the analysis aims at uncovering some of the most abstract and potentially most universal characteristics of the concept. This means that the analysis looks further than Shakespeare, and may at the same time appear somewhat naïve as regards Shakespeare scholarship. The reason for such an approach is that this article is intended, above all, for a cognitive linguistic, rather than philological or literary, audience. Even then, the aim involves an internal paradox: many of the most abstract characteristics of the concept of soul actually relate to physical reality, above all the human body.
Because the concept of soul has such a long history and such potentially universal validity, this article is necessarily rudimentary in nature. It is not possible to ensure that the development of the concept of soul has followed exactly the kinds of paths suggested here. Moreover, the religious detail, which I had to keep to a minimum is, indeed, crucial to an understanding of the concept. The point of this article, however, is not to verify diachronic or synchronic lines of reasoning, or to make any religious claims. Rather, the point is to show that the topic, the concept of soul, is highly productive and that there is potentially a wealth of further data to study in order to verify or refute my assertions.
The data includes all the 599 occurrences of the word soul in an electronic corpus of Shakespeare’s Works (Wells &Taylor 1989). The word occurs in the singular and plural and in several compounds, as illustrated by Table 1.
Table 1. Soul in Shakespeare.
Number of occurrences
The first strong claim which I want to make is that the concept of soul in Shakespeare concerns the very secret of life. On the one hand, we can see people’s visible bodies, and we can see them live and move. On the other hand, we do not have direct access to their source of life. To put the claim a little differently, the claim is that the concept of soul is a tool for understanding the mystery of human life.
One resolution to the ambiguity of seeing and not seeing is to locate people’s life in their breath, which is both visible, as breathing, and invisible, as air. In the first input, we have the source of life, which is visible, even tangible, and, at the same time, invisible. In the second input, we have breath, which can be sometimes seen and felt, and sometimes not. The generic space attests something that is both accessible to the senses, and not accessible to them. The blend conflates these two concepts, the source of life, labelled soul, and breath (example 8, Figure 2).
(8) Here could I breathe my soul into the air (1591: The First Part of the Contention, act III, scene II)
Figure 2. Soul as breath.
Another resolution of the conflict between something that is both accessible to the senses and not accessible to the senses is to locate the source of life among parts of the body which cannot be seen. This is practical, because it does not necessarily require a stance towards the substance of the soul (visible or invisible), and thus simultaneously answers a question and retains a sense of mystery.
However, if one locates soul in the breast, the two resolutions are combined. Soul involves both breath and a part of the body (example 9).
(9) Within this wall of flesh / There is a soul counts thee her creditor, / And with advantage means to pay thy love; / And, my good friend, thy voluntary oath / Lives in this bosom, dearly cherished. (1596: King John, act III, scene III)
This is illustrated in Figure 3. In the first input, we have the source of life, which is not only sometimes accessible and sometimes inaccessible to the senses, but also something inside the body. In the second input, we have breath, which is not only sometimes accessible and sometimes inaccessible to the senses, but also something under our skin. The generic space then provides us with an organising frame in which we have something which is simultaneously inside the body and both accessible and not accessible to the senses. In the emergent concept of soul, soul as the source of life is seen to consist of breath.
Figure 3. Soul as breath in the breast (lungs).
A third, metonymic resolution is to equate the soul with the individual, i.e. to mentally replace a person’s invisible nature with his or her visible nature. In Fauconnier and Turner’s words, “identity is metonymy of zero distance” (1998: 172) – in this case, there is a mental zero distance between the soul and its owner. In a somewhat similar manner, present-day English talks about characters in a book or play, character referring both to the people conveyed and their nature.
This can be illustrated with example (10) and Figure 4. Example (10) has feeble and faltering souls compared to strong ones:
(10) Shall rotten death make conquest of the stronger,
And leave the falt’ring feeble souls alive?
(1593–4: The Rape of Lucrece)
Figure four illustrates the suggestion that this meaning of soul may have emerged through an organising frame in the generic space in which the body carries (or contains) something. In the first input, it carries a source of life. In the second, it carries a set of characteristics forming an individual. In the emergent blend, each individual as a compound of characteristics forms the source of life that is the soul.
Figure 4. The metonymy the individual stands for the soul.
As such, the analysis illustrated by Figure 4 does not explain why soul in this sense often receives the further reading in the Shakespeare data of ‘someone who is about to die’ (e.g. example 10), even ‘someone who has died’ (see section 3.6), so further explanation is needed. It seems that the conceptual element ‘(the source of) life’ of the first input in Figure 4 tends to receive extra conceptual weight, through its negation, and this is not the case in the second input. Fauconnier and Turner call such blends asymmetric (1998: 167–169). It makes sense to think that the concept of life, together with its opposite concept of death, are central to forming the concept of soul, while such concepts as people’s individual characteristics are also important, but more peripheral.
The metonymy the individual stands for the soul often occurs in a context where the individual in question receives particular personality characteristics. The basic characteristics of personality which occur in context with the noun soul in Shakespeare can be portrayed in a simple manner: not only are people either good or bad, but their goodness or badness is supposed to be attested by their looks. Of course Shakespeare does not paint as simple a picture as that, but his characters may be treated in this way as a starting-point for purposes of irony, etc.
The division of souls into good and bad souls can be explained in at least two ways as suggested by Figures 5 and 6. Figure 5 is based on the existence of the metonymy the individual stands for the soul, but it also takes into account two further inputs, the ideas that an individual is either good or bad, and that an individual’s behaviour is either good or bad. The reason for this is that people’s actions play an important role in deciding what they are like. There appears to be no shared organising frame that would connect all the inputs, but in the generic space we have the following elements: an individual, their goodness or badness, and their good or bad deeds. In the emergent blend, good deeds attest a good soul, and bad deeds attest a bad soul.
Figure 5. The bipolarity of soul as regards explicit personality types in Shakespeare, explained in terms of the metonymy the individual stands for the soul.
In example (11), the term good soul is used to address a person:
(11) Learn, good soul, / To think our former state a happy dream (1595: Richard II, act V, scene I)
The blend may be elaborated, for example, by specifying the kind of goodness a person or his or her deeds attest, as in example (12):
(12) An honest soul, i’ faith, / sir, by my troth he is, as ever broke bread. (1598: Much Ado About Nothing, act III, scene V)
Example (13) suggests another way of explaining the idea that good deeds attest a good soul, and bad deeds attest a bad soul. It names a body part, the tongue:
(13) My tongue and soul in this be hypocrites (1600: Hamlet, act III, scene II) 
Figure 6 revolves around the theme of body parts. In the first input, we have the soul as a body part which has certain functions. In the second, we have knowledge concerning body parts, i.e. that they may or may not function well, depending on their health. In the third input we have the knowledge that people and their behaviour are either good or bad. It is now possible to find an organising frame that is common to all the inputs and that can be placed in the generic space: that there is something which functions either in a good or a bad way. In the emergent blend, bad deeds attest a good soul, and good deeds attest a good soul.
Figure 6. The bipolarity of soul as regards explicit personality types in Shakespeare, explained in terms of the metaphor/metonymy the soul is a body part.
This blend could be varied, for example, by suggesting that the soul can be either healthy or diseased, through information derived from the second input. Example (14) concerns the issue of the health of the soul:
(14) To my sick soul, as sin’s true nature is, / Each toy seems prologue to some great amiss. (1600–1: Hamlet, act IV, scene V)
A further distinction is made between beautiful and ugly souls, beauty corresponding with goodness, and ugliness with badness. In example (15), this idea is expressed in terms of a question:
(15) But, fair soul, / In your fine frame hath love no quality? (1604–5: All’s Well That Ends Well, act IV, scene II)
Figure 7 illustrates this idea of beautiful and ugly souls. It may be assumed that its origins lie in a simple equation between the goodness versus badness of a person’s looks and his or her respective goodness or badness. However, relating Figure 7 to Figure 6, it is also possible that the conceptual network is more extensive, involving, for example, the functions of the human body and person (a functional or telic explanation). Good looks would then reflect the general good ‘working’ of the individual.
Figure 7. Beautiful and ugly souls.
Elaborating on this, example (16) attests a curious case where a flea is jocularly regarded as a black soul burning in hell. In terms of blending theory, it requires further inputs, such as the final options for souls, heaven and hell, and the colour of burning coal, as well as the colour of the flea.
(16) Do you not remember, a saw a flea stick upon / Bardolph’s nose, and a said it was a black soul burning / in hell-fire. (1598–9: Henry V, act II, scene III)
Both thoughts and emotions (/feelings) are associated with the soul in Shakespeare. This could be characterised by suggesting that these two are potential input spaces.  The generic space would then comprise both thought and emotion – for example, sad thoughts and a bad feeling which is physically present. The output is a soul which, either literally or metaphorically, emerges as a container or instrument for (processing) experiences (Figure 8).
Figure 8. Soul as a container for experiences / an instrument for dealing with them.
Example (17) shows the soul as a container for emotions:
(17) My soul is full of discord and dismay. (1600–1: Hamlet, act IV, scene I)
Example (18) is a variation of the theme. It involves more detail about the body, concerning its health and ways to cure it. Grudging hate is considered as an illness of the soul which may be cured by purging:
(18) By heaven, my soul is purged from grudging hate (1592–3: Richard III, act II, scene I)
Example (19) suggests that the thoughts contained in the soul include memories:
(19) O, that record is lively in my soul. (1601: Twelfth Night, act V, scene I)
Example (20) may be interpreted to mean that the soul is an instrument for love:
(20) I love her with my soul (1613–14: Two Noble Kinsmen, act II, scene II)
Example (21) potentially conveys the idea that the soul is an instrument which may be misused. The verb abuse may have meant both ‘to misuse something’ and ‘to maltreat a person’ (OED abuse v).
(21) If it be true that I interpret false, / Then were it certain you were not so bad / As with foul incest to abuse your soul (1607: Pericles, act I, scene I)
It often seems that the soul is not considered a ‘thing’, but a ‘person’, which suggests a metonymic conflation of the individual and his or her soul. If the soul is nevertheless considered as residing inside, or being distinct from some other aspects of the person and his or her body, it becomes conceptually a more or less separate person. In other words, we have people and their souls as simultaneously adjacent and separate persons. This is illustrated in Figure 9.
Figure 9. The personified soul.
In Figure 9, the knowledge that a human being has thoughts and emotions (the first input) is integrated with the knowledge that the soul contains human thoughts and emotions (the second input). In the generic space, we have something that contains human thoughts and emotions, but the apparent ambiguity that ‘something’ may contain what is characteristically human. It seems that thoughts and emotions are so central to being human that the paradox has to be resolved in the emergent blend (cf. Fauconnier & Turner 1998: 177–178): the soul is not a ‘thing’, but a person within, or adjacent to, a person. Below, I will use the shorthand soul-person for such a personified soul.
In example (22), the fearful adversaries’ souls are fright(en)ed, while example (23) refers to weeping souls. In my view, these examples are somewhere on the border between the metonymy the individual stands for the soul and the personification of the soul.
(22) And now instead of mounting barbed steeds / To fright the souls of fearful adversaries / He capers nimbly in a lady’s chamber / To the lascivious pleasing of a lute. (1592–3: Richard III, act I, scene I)
(23) That foul defacer of God’s handiwork, / That reigns in galled eyes of weeping souls (1592–3: Richard III, act IV, scene IV)
That the soul may indeed be conceptualised as separate from the rest of the person, is particularly evidenced by the possibility of having discussions with one’s soul-person, as in examples (24) and (25). In example (24), the speaker instructs the soul-person, while in example (25), the soul-person instructs the poet’s body.
(24) Till then, sit still, my soul. (1600: Hamlet, act I, scene II)
(25) My soul doth tell my body that he may / Triumph in love (1593–60: Sonnets, CLI)
Finally, example (26) affirms that thoughts are localised in the soul. To be more precise, it suggests that the soul contains thoughts, which consist of ideas (conceits) that seem personified, since they are naked. So here, perhaps instead of personifying the soul, Shakespeare personifies the ideas in it. In any case, the conceptual closeness between a person and both his thoughts and body suggests an association between a person’s naked body and honesty not being able to hide anything.
As suggested by Alpo Honkapohja (p.c.), the examples concerning the soul-person could be interpreted in more detail, for example, by considering the possibility that someone is having a discussion with his or her conscience or, to put it in a more modern way, his or her superego. This is an interesting idea which could be probed further.
(26) But that I hope some good conceit of thine / In thy soul’s thought, all naked, will bestow it (1593–60: Sonnets, XXVI)
Coming to social relationships, we need new input in the form of actions. The conceptual integration network suggested in Figure 10 has four inputs: one concerning the influence of a person’s actions on other people, another specifying this as an influence on people’s thoughts and emotions, a third input specifying the location of thoughts and emotions in the soul, and a fourth input conveying the idea of the soul-person. These inputs are suggested in order to clarify the correspondences between people and their soul-persons on the one hand, and the focus of the influence on the other (thoughts and emotions). The set of inputs yields a chain of correspondences through the elements of actions, influence, people and souls in the generic space, and results in the emergent idea that the souls as persons are influenced by each other’s actions. The fourth input space, and consequently, the phrase ‘as persons’ in the emergent blend, is nevertheless in brackets because one may often simply see metonymic zero distance between souls and their owners.
Figure 10. Souls (as persons) are influenced by each other’s actions.
To give an example, King Henry talks about his having been too soft, which has led to disrespect from some. Here, Henry suggests that proud people only pay respect to other proud people, using the generic the proud soul and the proud:
(27) I will from henceforth rather be myself, / Mighty and to be feared, than my condition, / Which hath been smooth as oil, soft as young down, / And therefore lost that title of respect / Which the proud soul ne’er pays but to the proud. (1596–7: 1 Henry IV, act I, scene III)
To analyse example (27) in detail, one needs to specify some further information not provided in Figure 9, namely that proud people act in a proud way and that such actions evoke respect in other proud people, i.e. influence them.
Some input additional to Figure 9 tends to be necessary to understand relevant passages. Often the additional input is metaphoric. Example (28) operates on the conceptual metaphor love is a unity, suggesting that fellow Romans should be bound by brotherly love rather than act in a way which separates them. In other words, the people here are represented by the Romans in question, and action by any aggressive and separatist group which might disunite (influence) such souls, which so far have been bound together by brotherly love:
Another metaphor of love is love is a nutrient.  It occurs in example (29), where a soul feeds upon another person’s looks. If regarded in terms of Figure 10, (29) represents two people, the lovers, one soul in love, looks as actions, and nutrition or nurture as an influence. It is interesting that the example is asymmetric: only one of the lovers, the speaker herself (Julia) is compressed to a soul,  while the beloved (Proteus) is regarded as a man. The point may well be to focus on Julia’s inner life.
(28) Never come such division ‘tween our souls. (1599: Julius Caesar, act IV, scene III)
(29) O, know’st thou not his looks are my soul’s food? (1590–1: The Two Gentlemen of Verona, act II, scene VII)
Example (30) provides an even more elaborate image, this time a simile for love, where souls are likened to atmospheric powers (OED element n11). With regard to conceptual metaphor theory, it relates to the present-day English metaphor love is a natural / physical force. In (30), the people and souls as persons are the lovers, whose action is love and who influence each other in a natural yet mysterious way.
(30) Loved for we did, and like the elements, / That know not what, nor why, yet do effect / Rare issues by their operance, our souls / Did so to one another. (1613–14: Two Noble Kinsmen, act I, scene III)
To conclude the theme of social relationships, let us take a different example. The compound soul-killing, conveying a dire influence, occurs in The Comedy of Errors. Example 31 conveys the idea that the soul may be killed while the body lives on, albeit in this instance, deformed. Note also the phrase change the mind, indicating a close associative relationship between thoughts and the soul.
(31) They say this town is full of cozenage, / As nimble jugglers that deceive the eye, / Dark-working sorcerers that change the mind, / Soul-killing witches that deform the body, / Disguised cheaters, prating mountebanks, / And many suchlike libertines of sin. (1594, act I, scene II)
To continue with the theme of death, the previous sections have suggested that in Shakespeare souls either go to heaven or hell. This agrees not only with Christian doctrine, but also with the life is a journey metaphor which has been much discussed within the conceptual metaphor theory (e.g. Lakoff & Turner 1989: 60–65), religion providing the journey with an end point. It also agrees with the soul-person blend, because like any human being, soul-persons may become travellers.
The idea of life as a journey is illustrated in Figure 11, where the generic space has two inputs: one consisting of a person’s life, which has a starting point (birth) and an end point (death), and another consisting of a traveller’s journey which also has a starting point and an end point (destination). In the generic space we have a human being who is on his or her way from a starting point to an end point, and in the blend the human life acquires the characteristics of a journey and reaches a destination. This blend has many variants. To understand a number of expressions, it is necessary to replace the traveller with any traveller, such as an animal, so that the human being in the generic space is replaced with a living being or even someone or something, and a human life blends with any life.
Figure 11. Seeing life as a journey.
In example (32), we have the simple verb go indicating the soul’s journey to hell, coupled with the idea of an immoral soul being an ugly one, presented above in section 3.3:
(32) And that his soul may be as damned and black / As hell whereto it goes. (1600–1: Hamlet, act III, scene III)
Some verbs for the journey are certainly more likely to occur than others. Example (33) has fleet, while example (34) has fly.
(33) Then God forgive the sin of all those souls / That to their everlasting residence / Before the dew of evening fall, shall fleet (1596: King John, act II, scene I)
(34) Come, side by side together live and die, / And soul with soul from France to heaven fly. (1592: 1 Henry VI, act IV, scene V)
The verb fly occurs relatively often in Shakespeare, where souls may be seen as birds. This is suggested, for example, by example (35) which not only employs the verb fly, but the noun wings as well:
(35) If yet your gentle souls fly in the air, / And be not fixed in doom perpetual, / Hover about me with your airy wings / And hear your mother’s lamentation. (1592–3: Richard III, act IV, scene IV)
The expression airy wings in (35) suggests a blend of soul as breath with the conceptual metaphor the soul is a bird. This is illustrated in Figure 12, which has four input spaces: the breath from the dead body which moves upwards, soul as breath (cf. Figure 2), the (potentially metaphorical) idea that heaven is up, and the notion that a bird may fly upwards into the sky. The generic space contains the idea of the upward movement of something in the air. In the blend, a dead person’s soul emerges as an invisible (airy) bird that has wings and flies up into the sky. Remember, though, that this is only one variation of the metaphor the soul is a bird – although the ‘bird-souls’ in Shakespeare are often dead, this is no absolute rule.
Figure 12. A dead person’s soul is an invisible bird that flies up into the sky.
Example (36) conveys a further potential way of travelling by introducing the devil as someone who may snatch a person’s soul. This may well be a conventionalised curse, as suggested by Alpo Honkapohja (p.c.).
(36) The devil take thy soul. (1600-1: Hamlet, act V, scene I)
To continue with passive travelling but return to images relating to air, the final example in this section concerns an army which advances like a black storm, blowing souls to their final destinations. Compared with the previous example, this one has a more idiosyncratic, Shakespearian flavour to it: 
(37) I will stir up in England some black storm / Shall blow ten thousand souls to heaven or hell (1591: The First Part of the Contention, act III, scene I)
The image in (37) is quite vivid: the storm may be conceptualised as moving bodies, tearing up their parts, and carrying people or their soul-persons away. Interestingly, the blowing of the storm can be associated with human breath, because both involve air. Figure 13 suggests a scenario where the ‘soul-breaths’ of individuals are swirled and hurled along with the great gusts of the tempest. The simple blend illustrated in Figure 13 may be enriched, for example, by adding dark colours to it, as in the greyness of breath in cold air, the blackness of sinful or desperate souls, and the darkness of a storm.
Figure 13. The storm as a conglomeration of souls as human breath.
This article suggests that the concept of soul, as portrayed by Shakespeare, is central to understanding what it is to be human, individually and in general. The ‘essence of a person/human being’ sense of soul can be metonymically extended to other matters as well. In example (38), this sense has been modified to suggest that something good can be hidden in what only seems to be evil.
(38) There is some soul of goodness in things evil (1598–9: Henry V, act IV, scene I)
Figure 14 illustrates a potential explanation for the meaning of soul in (38). In one input space, there is the knowledge that the soul is the essence of a person, which has various, good and bad aspects (as discussed in section 3.3). In another input space, there is the notion that evil has an essence and that it has various aspects. In the generic space, one may see an organising frame consisting of the essence of something, which includes many potential aspects. The blend emerges as an understanding that even evil may include some goodness, because it has so many different shades.
Figure 14. Soul as the surprising goodness in evil.
This section has suggested that the soul, understood on the basis of data on the noun soul, has the following characteristics in Shakespeare, which may occur separately or blend together:
1. It may be considered breath.
2. It may be considered something within the human body.
3. It may be considered a body part.
4. It may be considered a bird.
5. It may be considered a container for experiences.
6. It may be considered an instrument for dealing with experiences.
7. It may be seen as a person within a person (a human being inside a human being).
8. An individual may be metonymically considered a soul / called a soul.
9. Good deeds attest a good soul, and bad deeds attest a bad soul.
10. In the ideal case, a beautiful person has a good soul, and an ugly person has a bad soul.
11. Souls are influenced by each other’s actions.
12. Souls are on their way somewhere.
13. The soul of something is its essence.
14. People’s emotions, thoughts and behaviour are understood in terms of the soul.
15. Metaphorical language is often used to describe what happens in and to the soul.
The definition of the noun soul in Shakespeare, based on the analysis of the data from his Works (Wells & Taylor 1989), may now be compared with the dictionaries discussed in section 2. A major finding is that Shakespeare uses most of the senses of the noun soul listed in the dictionaries. A comparison between the analysis presented in this article and the dictionaries also shows that although the OED covers most of the same things as the analysis, the analysis approaches the meaning of soul from a different perspective, sometimes being more specific, sometimes more generalising. The OED does not particularly highlight potentially metaphorical senses of soul, such as involving breath, body part, bird, containment, or instrumentality. None of the dictionaries record many figurative uses of soul, except in examples. This is clearly where a cognitive linguistic analysis complements the picture.
Moreover, the dictionary entries remind the analyst of the rich cultural background of the meaning of soul, which has not been dealt with in detail here. As regards this background, many issues remain which the dictionaries do not fully explain. What, for example, constitutes a good or bad soul, or a beautiful or ugly person.
To conclude, a return to the three dictionaries shows that the analysis presented in this section should be completed by adding at least three more senses:
16. The disembodied spirit of a deceased person is called a soul.
17. An individual soul may attest particular spiritual or mystical skills such as foreseeing things.
18. Because of the centrality of the soul to human life and death, and because of the potential powers of the soul, the noun soul can be used to emphasise commitment to an issue (oaths, exclamations).
Considering the importance of cultural background to the meaning of soul, this section will deal with psychological theory in the Renaissance. The primary reference is The Inward Wits: Psychological Theory in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance (Harvey 1975).
Harvey (1975) helps us to better understand several issues concerning the dictionary entries of the noun soul. To begin with, Onions’s sense 3, ‘the vital, sensitive, or rational principle in plants, animals, or human beings’, which also occurs in the two other dictionaries, is nothing but a reference to medieval and even Shakespeare’s contemporary psychology.
According to Harvey, medieval philosophy distinguished between three major kinds of faculties of souls, which could be called powers, or simply souls. These comprised the vegetative power, the sensitive power, and the human power. The vegetative power was responsible for the nourishment, growth, and reproduction of organisms. The sensitive power was responsible for movement and perception, and the human power for knowing and acting. This kind of categorising of powers is related to the idea of an “elaborate ladder of being” where each organism had its due place according to the kind of soul it possessed: a human being was situated between animals and celestial intelligences (Harvey 1975: 40–42).
To make matters more complex, Shakespeare’s contemporaries also used the noun spirit(s) to refer to the three powers, which in their view corresponded to three fluids in the blood and the body (Biewer 2006: 146–151). In other words, for a complete analysis of the meaning of the noun soul, one should also discuss the meaning of the noun spirit, and perhaps even that of power, fluid, and blood.
Harvey usefully explains about Haly Abbas’s (d. 994/995) medical theory. We note here that the vital spirit in particular relates to the concept of life that is central to the concept of soul (1975: 16–17, emphasis added):
Haly … describes the workings of the body in terms of three different kinds of spirit effecting their different operations, working this time from lowest to highest. The powers of generation, nutrition and growth are effected by the natural spirit, whose seat is the liver and the veins [.] The second spirit, the vital spirit, is made in the heart out of the natural spirit in the blood, and it is then distributed through the arteries [.] The behaviour of the vital spirit is responsible for the passions [.] The animal power [spirit] comprises three parts: the ruling power, which resides in the brain itself; the power of sensation, which operates by using the sense organs and nerves coming to the front of the brain; and the power of motion, using the spinal cord and the nerves branching from it [.]
This passage also confirms the centrality of the concept of blood to the concept of soul. According to Onians (1951: 53), “Germanic peoples … intimately related sawol (‘soul’) to blood”. It is also of interest to note what Harvey writes about the vital spirit and death (1975: 16):
Breathing is necessary for the sake of the vital spirit, for respiration cools the heart, and increases and tempers the newly-formed vital spirit within it. Any noxious vapours arising out of this process pass back from the heart along the arteria venalis to the lungs and are breathed out. Hence man dies much quicker when his breath is withheld than when his food is withheld.
Several nouns which appear in the three dictionary definitions of soul are of interest as regards Renaissance psychology: mind, imagination (including dream and prophecy), emotion, or rather, passion, and element. To compare with a modern view, in Kiricsi’s small investigation into present-day understandings of mind, six out of her eighteen informants located thoughts and emotion in the mind, and only one of them mentioned the soul. The human brain was mentioned as the seat for thoughts by ten participants (2005: 13–14).
What seems to be missing from the three dictionary definitions of soul is the concept of memory, which plays an important role in Kiricsi’s account of the medieval concept of mind (2005, cf. example 19). Dreaming and prophesying agree both with the soul being an instrument for thought, and a spiritual concept. According to Harvey, “[t]rue dreams of the future come about through soul’s kinship with the intelligencies of the spheres” and depend on the purity of the soul (1975: 49–50).
When we translate the soul as mind we need to take into account that our understanding of what the mind is has changed in subtler ways than one might assume. Not all of the elements of the psychological theory have changed. Rather, they have been ordered differently. For example, people have lost their faith in spirits of the body. However, when Harvey explains Avicenna’s concept of imagination, she refers to a spirit operating in the brain – the brain was considered a storage-house for percepts even then (1975: 44).
When one considers the soul as mind one cannot help thinking about a dichotomy much discussed by cognitive linguists, the Cartesian split between the body and mind, which they strongly criticise (e.g. Lakoff 1987, Lakoff & Johnson 1980, 1999). The split is not as clear in texts dealing with Renaissance psychological theory as one might expect. Harvey discusses representatives of at least two schools (1975: 54):
Whereas to Avicenna the body was the soul’s garment, and the soul was the man himself, to Aquinas man is a being made up of body and soul [.] Aquinas’s insistence on man’s composite nature, rather than on his intellect in isolation, leads to a momentous change of emphasis [.]
Biewer’s account on the psychology behind Shakespeare’s romantic stories (2006) relies strongly on the idea that passions are bound to the earth and the body, rather than occurring in any indefinite sphere of experience. She takes into account both the theory of the four elements, and humoral theory, which have also been discussed by cognitive linguists (e.g., Geeraerts & Grondelaers 1995, Gevaert 2005), emphasising that even the Elizabethans thought that a person is what s/he eats. This relates to the concept of soul as far as it is understood in terms of the functioning of the body and mind (Biewer 2006: 99–146). As regards the findings presented above, it is also of particular interest to note that the Platonic idea of beauty representing virtue, and ugliness vice, was central to Elizabethan psychology, although Shakespeare also made fun of it (Biewer 2006: 152–159).
In their Philosophy in the Flesh, cognitive linguists Lakoff and Johnson deal at length with the concept of self, suggesting that it is metaphorical rather than ‘real’ (1999: 267–289). To the postmodern mind, the concept of soul may seem even more metaphorical. However, one of Biewer’s main points (2006: 35–38) is that such ideas as presented in the above analysis were not that metaphorical to Shakespeare’s contemporaries, but rather, many of them were considered facts of life and used to explain, for example, how emotions work.
Considering how much time within cognitive linguistics has been spent on issues of embodiment, mind and shared minds (e.g. Palmer, Goddard & Lee 2003, Zlatev, Racine, Sinha & Itkonen 2008),  it is surprising how little interest cognitive linguists have shown in the diachronic development of concepts such as the mind (but cf. Koivisto-Alanko 2000). Not only could it be a fruitful exercise as regards historical semantics and the history of concepts, but also as regards understanding how we analyse the mind now, and where our contemporary thinking is going.
This section will relate the present findings in particular to those presented in a special issue of the journal Cognitive Linguistics on the concept of thought across languages (Palmer, Goddard & Lee 2003). Considering the history of concepts, it would also be fascinating to analyse such data as presented in Onians’s The Origins of European Thought (1951) in terms of conceptual metaphors, image schemas and blending. His book brims with terminology which connects the soul and mind to the body.
Palmer suggests that the “domains of thought and emotion are probably mutually defining in all languages” (2003: 98), while Goddard writes (2003: 122):
True, Kiricsi’s small findings (2005: 13–14) suggest that people no longer think in terms of the English word soul,  but interestingly, Shakespeare’s concept of soul does not reflect a bifurcation of the person into two parts, but rather, conveys an image of the soul dealing with thinking and knowing as well as feeling and wanting. Furthermore, it reflects a concept of soul as both visible and material (body, body part, breath, beauty or ugliness, people’s behaviour), and invisible and immaterial (for example, necessitating metonymic or metaphorical language). It is also an ‘intersubjective’ concept in that Shakespeare uses it to describe and analyse one person’s influence on another.
The modern English concept of mind appears to be a highly culture-specific concept, lacking precise equivalents even in other European languages such as French and German … This explication reflects, firstly, the bifurcation of the person into two parts, the mind being the invisible and immaterial part, and secondly, the fact that mind is conceptually focused on thinking and knowing rather than on feeling or wanting.
Consider also Junker’s description of a native American view of the mind (2003: 185):
So, the etymology of mind and intelligence in Cree indicates an idea of wholeness … People can be viewed as being more or less skilled, but it is how they use their skills that matters most. In Cree, misusing the thinking faculty is considered evil.
At least to some extent, this view seems to agree with the Elizabethan idea that a beautiful body goes together with good deeds. The body as a whole represents the good life of the person inhabiting it.
The Elizabethan “ethnotheory of the person” (cf. Goddard 2003: 133), then, is potentially both very different from that of many speakers of present-day English, and simultaneously, surprisingly postmodern. The studies discussed in section 4 confirm the idea that the Elizabethans both had an elaborate understanding of the workings of the human soul and related it to down-to-earth, everyday matters such as food (Biewer 2006).
The findings presented in this article only concern the top of a hidden iceberg, seen hazily and from afar off, and still remaining an inviting site for investigation. Blending theory appears to be useful for dealing with seemingly simple concepts that actually relate to a wealth of ideas, and tend to be represented in a complex manner in traditional dictionaries. To put it in another way, blending theory highlights contacts between superficially very abstract concepts and actual physical experience.
 The Finnish Academy Center of Excellence, Research Unit for Variation, Contacts and Change in English provided funding for the writing of this article. I thank Tatyana Solomonik-Pankrashova from the University of Vilnius for the idea of investigating the concept of soul and for interesting discussions on this as well as other topics.
 I thank Jukka Tyrkkö for this reference and for other valuable comments on this article.
 I thank my friends Eeva Johansson and Tiina Arpiainen for discussing the poem The Raven with me. It was only through Tiina’s serendipitous suggestion that I started to think about the poem at all – she did not in fact know that I was studying the noun soul.
 An example of this kind of a truth-conditional model of logic is Suppes (1999 ).
 The tongue here, of course, involves a metaphor for speech, as Jukka Tyrkkö has suggested to me.
 This is necessarily a simplification, because Shakespeare himself does not use the term emotion, but his characters talk, for example, about passions, and name what we might consider emotions or feelings, e.g. sorrow. The terms ‘emotion’ and ‘feeling’ themselves have been a target of much discussion not only in psychology, but also in linguistics and anthropology (e.g. Wierzbicka 1995).
 The metaphors love is a unity of parts and love is a nutrient are listed by Kövecses (2000: 26).
 For a detailed discussion of compression, see Fauconnier & Turner (2000).
 I thank Alpo Honkapohja for pointing this out (p.c.).
 See especially Zlatev, Racine, Sinha & Itkonen for book titles with the word mind (2008:1).
 One of Lee’s informants located thoughts and emotions in the head, while another mentioned the brain and heart. However, “most participants responded very minimally to the ‘where in the body’ question” (2003: 234, 239, 240).
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