Research Article

A Cognitive Analysis of “Power”


  • Miaomiao Zhang School of Law and Humanities, China University of Mining & Technology (Beijing)


Cognitive linguistics, as a newly established method for the study of language that emerged in the 1970s, focuses on the study of general cognitive abilities and conceptual processes of human beings. With the development of society, many new lexical items and concepts emerge, and they all need to be encoded in the form of language expression. An economical and practical way is to give a word multiple meaning. Based on the prototypical theory of cognitive linguistics, this paper analyzed the semantic network and semantic distribution of the polysemous word “power.” Fourteen senses of “power” used as nouns were collected from the Oxford Advanced English-Chinese Dictionary (9th Edition), and connections between different senses were explored by analyzing the semantic features. Meanwhile, 100 sentences containing “power” were randomly extracted from the BNC corpus to figure out the distribution of different senses. It was found that the prototypical sense and extended senses of “power” revealed the characteristics of family resemblance, and extended senses centered on the prototypical sense and extended radially outward. Among the 14 senses of “power,” the sense of “political right” is the most commonly used, while the senses of “multiplication” and “deity” are rarely used. Finally, some suggestions on the teaching of polyseme are put forward hopefully to offer valuable guidance for English learners.

Article information


International Journal of Linguistics, Literature and Translation

Volume (Issue)

7 (7)





How to Cite

Zhang, M. (2024). A Cognitive Analysis of “Power”. International Journal of Linguistics, Literature and Translation, 7(7), 08–16.



prototypical theory, polysemy, power, semantic network, semantic distribution