A cognitive linguistic view of control mechanism in Iranian culture
The case of effat ‘chastity’ in Persian
This research deals with the conceptualizations of effat in Persian and seeks to find out how this cultural key concept regulates the sexuality of Iranians. The analysis of the data collected from the Persian newspaper Kayhan indicates that effat is part of a larger cultural model that operates to restrict the sexuality of Iranians and keep the sexes segregated. The analysis demonstrates that effat exclusively functions to discipline the body and set limits to bodily desires. Within the identified cultural model, effat’s main task is to segregate men and women by creating a cover/barrier between them, blocking/concealing the ways through which sexual desire might be aroused. The results show that metaphor is the primary means of representing the functions of effat. The effat is a curtain and effat is a barrier metaphors mark the boundaries between individuals and prohibited areas of the culture. Moreover, metaphors contribute to discovering the relationship between effat and its most related concepts. Metaphorical conceptualizations of effat provide significant evidence as to how embodied experience is informed and constituted by culture. The research also finds that the body bears the imprint of effat. Compared to anthropological accounts, this research provides a more comprehensive image of this concept by simultaneously taking into account the role of bodily, cognitive, social-cultural, and discursive representations in the formation of the cultural model of effat.
Keywords: Effat ‘chastity’, hejâb ‘veiling’, sexuality, metaphor, Iranian culture, gender segregation, morality
Published online: 10 January 2020
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