A Conceptual Metaphor Theory analysis of anishi ‘eyes’-based metaphors in Gonja


  • Kenneth Bodua-Mango Accra College of Education




Gonja, Ghana, body parts, metaphor, Conceptual Metaphor Theory


This article provides a Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT) analysis of the metaphorical use of the body part anishi ‘eyes’ in Gonja, a North Guang Niger-Congo language spoken by some 310,000 people predominantly in the Northern and Savannah regions of Ghana. The use of body-part metaphors is an integral part of the daily repertoire of the average Gonja speaker. This article discusses how the anishi ‘eyes’-based expressions are grounded by the biological, psychological and socio-cultural functions of the eye. Prominent anishi ‘eyes’ mappings identified in the language include EMOTIONS/ATTITUDES ARE OBJECTS, ATTITUDES ARE POSSESSIONS, EYE STANDS FOR THE VIEW OR SIGHT, IDEAS AS OBJECTS, IDEAS ARE POSSESSIONS, KNOWLEDGE IS VISION, MANNER FOR ATTITUDE, PAYING ATTENTION IS SEEING, RED EYES ARE SERIOUS, UNAVAILABLE TO KNOWLEDGE IS INVISIBLE OR COVERED, and WET EYES ARE CAREFUL. Regarding the universalist and variationist dichotomy on metaphors, this article argues that, while there is evidence to support the universality of the conceptual metaphors, the importance of cross-cultural distinctiveness cannot be discounted. The data for this work is the product of elicitations from native speaker Gonja students at the University of Education, Winneba, Ghana and complemented with data based on my intuitions as a Safaliba-Gonja bilingual first language speaker. Secondary sources of data include Afari-Twako (2017) and Agyekum (2018). 

Author Biography

Kenneth Bodua-Mango, Accra College of Education

Kenneth Bodua-Mango is a Tutor at the Accra College of Education, Ghana. He holds a BA and an MPhil in linguistics from the University of Ghana, Legon, and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway, respectively. His research interests include the syntax and semantics of Gonja and language documentation.


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How to Cite

Bodua-Mango, K. (2021). A Conceptual Metaphor Theory analysis of anishi ‘eyes’-based metaphors in Gonja. Sociolinguistic Studies, 15(1), 41–64. https://doi.org/10.1558/sols.42355