Publication details [#12608]

Domaradzki, Mikołaj. 2011. The Self in Arabic and the Relativism-Universalism Controversy. Cognitive Linguistics 22 (3) : 535–567. 33 pp.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
De Gruyter


The aim of this paper is to analyse the metaphor system used to conceptualize the Self in the Arabic language. Focusing on the comparison of structural means, conceptualization of the inner life both in Arabic and English appears to be considerably different in terms of structural level (referring to the grammatical one) but not so opposed when conceptual level (semantic) is analysed. In this paper, it is discussed how inner experiences are transformed into concepts throughout metaphors so, whether in Arabic or English, speakers tend to conceptualize them in a similar way. At the same time that some conceptual correspondences between the two languages are drawn, it is hypothesized the reflection of universal human experiences and cognitive abilities. Taking all this into account, the linguistic material which is analyzed in this paper offers a setting out that may leads us to the debate of relativism-universalism. Finally, this paper gives us the key for this duality: there are two options in order to analyze the concepts depending on your focus which covers from the universal conceptualizations dealing with the underlying cognitive mechanisms, to the structural relations based on specific cultural and historical conventions. Regardless of your choice as a focus to look at the concepts, this paper reveals the importance of the explanation of some conceptual similarities.