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. 91–110
5. Hot eyes, white stomach
emotions and character qualities in Safaliba metaphor
With a population of only about 7000, the Safaliba are one of the least numerous ethnic groups in Ghana that still use a distinct language as their primary means of communication with one another as well as with many outsiders. Many Safaliba metaphors are similar to those of other Ghanaian languages: to tell lies in Safaliba, you “cut” (ŋma) them, while to make a good effort, you “wrestle” (mɔbe̱); metaphors like this are linguistically and geographically wide-spread and have even made their way into registers of Ghanaian English. However, there are also types of metaphorical usage where there is a fair amount of cross-language variation. Emotions and character-qualities are sometimes lexicalized but are also regularly conveyed by compound words or phrases with a strong metaphorical component. In these cases an image used to convey a particular quality in one language may convey a different quality in another language: for example, in Safaliba the expression po-pɛɛlo̱ŋ “white stomach” is used to refer to the quality of kindness, while in the related language Farefare the equivalent expression is used to refer to the emotion of happiness. Working within the general framework of Lakoff and Johnson (1980 and later developments), this paper gives an overview of selected Safaliba metaphors relating to emotions and character-qualities. It also compares these to similar constructions in four other northern Ghanaian languages, Waali, Farefare, Vagla, and Chumburung.
Keywords: Safaliba, Oti-Volta, Gur, emotions, body metaphor, Ghana, literacy
Published online: 14 October 2015
Allman, J., & Parker, J.
(2005) Tongnaab: The history of a West African god. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press.
(Ed.) (1975) Sisaala-English/English-Sisaala Dictionary. Tamale, Ghana: Institute of Linguistics.
(1989) Language universals and linguistic typology (2nd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. BoP
(1945) The dynamics of clanship among the Tallensi: Being the first part of an analysis of the social structure of a Trans-Volta tribe. London: Oxford University Press for the International African Institute.
(1949) The web of kinship among the Tallensi: The second part of an analysis of the social structure of a Trans-Volta tribe. London: Oxford University Press for the International African Institute.
(1973) Contexts of Kinship: An essay in the family sociology of the Gonja of Northern Ghana. (Cambridge Studies in Social Anthropology, 7). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
(1982) Parenthood and social reproduction: Fostering and occupational roles in West Africa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
(1956) The social organization of the LoWiili. (Colonial Research Studies, 19). London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office.
(1962) Death, property, and the ancestors: A study of the mortuary customs of the Lodagaa of West Africa. London: Tavistock Publications.
(2005) Body metaphor in Chumburung. Journal of West African Languages, 32(1–2): 135–180.
(1986) Gods, shrines, and problem-solving among the Anufɔ of northern Ghana. ( Collectanea Instituti Anthropos, 34). Berlin: Deitrich Reimer Verlag.
(1987) The body in the mind: The bodily basis of meaning, imagination, and reason. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. BoP
(2002) Metaphor: A practical introduction. Oxford University Press. MetBib
(1987) Women, fire, and dangerous things: What categories reveal about the mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. BoP
Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M.
(1980) Metaphors we live by. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. BoP
(1999) Philosophy in the flesh: The embodied mind and its challenge to Western thought. New York: Basic Books. BoP
1962 Phenomenology of perception. London: Routledge.
Oware Knudsen, Ch
(1994) The falling dawadawa tree: Female circumcision in developing Ghana. Højbjerg, Denmark: Intervention Press.
(1999) Remotely global: Village modernity in West Africa. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
(2009) Narrative storyline marking in Safaliba: Determining the meaning and discourse function of a typologically-suspect pronoun set. PhD dissertation, University of Texas at Arlington.
Schaefer, P., & Schaefer, J.
(2003) Collected field reports on the phonology of Safaliba. (Collected Language Notes, 25). Legon, Ghana: Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana.
(2004) Verbal and nominal structures in Safaliba. In M.E. Kropp Dakubu & E.K. Osam (Eds.), Studies in the languages of the Volta Basin II (pp.183–201). Legon, Ghana: Department of Linguistics, University of Ghana.
(1964) The Mossi of the Upper Volta: The political development of a Sudanese people. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
(1989) Wa and the Wala: Islam and polity in northwestern Ghana. (African Studies Series, 63). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
(2000) The Juula and the expansion of Islam into the forest. In N. Levtzion & R.L. Pouwels (Eds.), The history of Islam in Africa (pp.93–115). Athens/Ohio: Ohio University Press.
Wilks, I., Levtzion, N., & Haight, B.
(1986) Chronicles from Gonja. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.