(forthcoming)
ISBN 978-3-89645-715-8

Encoding Emotions in Swahili

A Cognitive Linguistic Analysis with a Consideration of the Socio-cultural Context

Author: Rosanna Tramutoli. Edited by: Bernd Heine, Wilhelm J.G. Möhlig.

Series: East African Languages and Dialects Volume 30

4th quarter 2020
8 pp. Roman, 170 pp.
5 colour screenshots, 1 facsimile reproduction
Text language(s): English
Format: 160 x 240 mm
Paperback
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The main goal of this research is to explore the linguistic forms that Swahili uses to encode emotional concepts (such as love and anger) in order to reflect on the implications of the correlation between the linguistic expression and the conceptualization of emotions.

The research investigates fundamental questions like, how does Swahili language codify complex notions of human feelings through its spectrum of emotion words and metaphorical expressions. Is the cognitive universal model enough to account for a description of context-specific emotional metaphors in Swahili? What makes Swahili literary metaphorical expressions different from the more conventional ones used in everyday speech? Why does Swahili use different experiential constructions (like nimekasirika – nina hasira – hasira imenipanda, ‘I am angry/ I feel angry’), if they all refer to a similar emotional concept (like ‘X being angry’)? Do these expressions really mean the same or is there any reason which motivates the choice of a specific strategy? Can we trace the cultural relevance of some specific metaphors of emotions?

Whereas most studies of the codification of emotions have focused on a single specific aspect (experiential constructions, lexicon, metaphors, etc.), this study seeks to give a broader picture of Swahili emotional expressions, considering different linguistic aspects, speakers’ folk definitions of emotional concepts, and ethnographic sources on body practices.

After introducing the reader to the main issues discussed in previous studies on the conceptualization of emotions, with particular focus on research on African languages (Chapter 1), the study shows how complex notions of human feelings (such as love and anger) are codified in the Swahili lexicon (Chapter 2). It analyses Swahili metaphorical expressions of emotion by comparing Swahili metaphors to the cognitive universal model and showing the flaws of Lakoff and Johnson’s analysis (Chapter 3). Expressions of emotion are also analyzed from a syntactic point of view, in order to explore the role of the participants involved in the emotional situation, by comparing Swahili experiential constructions to models in other African languages (Chapter 4). Finally, we highlight the link between some emotional linguistic expressions and the Swahili cultural context, by questioning the idea that these are to be considered as ‘metaphorical’ from an emic perspective, since they are part of the speakers’ reality (Chapter 5).


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