Article published in:Language Endangerment: Disappearing metaphors and shifting conceptualizations
Edited by Elisabeth Piirainen and Ari Sherris
[Cognitive Linguistic Studies in Cultural Contexts 7] 2015
► pp. 15–36
2. Metaphors we die by
change and vitality in Maori
Accounts of metaphors of death from various languages and cultures typically report the use of euphemisms used to talk about death. In contrast euphemisms are not the main focus of metaphors of death in Māori. Indeed, the dead are a palpable presence to those living and are routinely acknowledged in important Māori greeting rituals through the formulaic episode poroporoaki (farewells to the dead), the main focus of which are to send the dead on to the next world. Accordingly, poroporoaki typically feature formulae based on the death is a journey conceptual metaphor. With the introduction of Christianity in the 19th century, poroporoaki now also include formulae derived from the biblically based death is sleep conceptual metaphor. Since the commencement of widespread language revitalization initiatives in the 1980s poroporoaki have been adapted for inclusion at the beginning of television and radio programs, and, more recently, are used in Facebook and Twitter messages. A corpus of broadcast Māori forms the basis of this analysis of metaphors used in modern day poroporoaki. Besides the conceptual metaphors already mentioned, the corpus also contains examples of honorific metaphors which liken the dead to stars, or to trees which have fallen. In changing and adapting to new situations poroporoaki exemplify the important role of metaphoric formulae in maintaining the vitality of important cultural elements as languages adapt to changing technologies.
Keywords: death, endangered language, formulae, Maori, metaphor
Published online: 14 October 2015
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