‘The heart has caught me’

Anger metaphors in Likpakpaln (Konkomba)


  • Abraham Kwesi Bisilki The University of Hong Kong
  • Kofi Yakpo The University of Hong Kong




Likpakpaln, Ghana, body parts, metaphor, emotion, anger, grammatical relations


We provide a first documentation and analysis of anger metaphors in Likpakpaln, a little-studied Mabia (Gur) language, primarily spoken in Northern Ghana. We adopt Conceptual Metaphor Theory as the analytical framework for this study. The study of emotional body-part metaphors and their lexicalisation patterns in Likpakpaln is interlaced with nominal and clausal morphosyntax as well as grammatical relations. Anger is conceptualised in terms of li?uul ‘heart’ and we identify five types of clause structures in which anger expressions occur in Likpakpaln. Further, we make out four metaphorical conceptualisations. In an areally prominent conceptualisation that we term ANGER IS HUMAN-LIKE, li?uul ‘heart’ is anthropomorphised as a human-like agent who can ‘catch’, ‘hold’, ‘kill’, or ‘eat’ a person. Other metaphorical conceptualisations are ANGER IS HEAT, AN ANGRY PERSON IS A PRESSURISED CONTAINER, and THE BODY IS A CONTAINER FOR ANGER. All in all, metaphors of anger in Likpakpaln show cross-cultural correspondences and culture-specific construals, thus providing evidence for the cultural embodied prototype theory. The Likpakpaln data also reflects a departure from some general tendencies. For instance, the coding of positive and negative emotion concepts in Likpakpaln is nuanced by the use of particular synonyms of the heart rather than by the selection of different body parts. 

Author Biographies

Abraham Kwesi Bisilki, The University of Hong Kong

Kwesi Abraham Bisilki is a PhD student in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Hong Kong and a lecturer in the Department of Applied Linguistics at the University of Education, Winneba, Ghana. His research interests include sociolinguistics, language description and documentation, language policy, and oral literature. His publications appear in Language Sciences, Journal of West African Languages, Ghana Journal of Linguistics, and elsewhere.

Kofi Yakpo, The University of Hong Kong

Kofi Yakpo is an Associate Professor of Linguistics in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Hong Kong (HKU). Prior to his appointment at HKU, Dr. Yakpo had obtained several higher academic degrees, including a PhD in Linguistics from Radboud University, Nijmegen (Netherlands). His research interests include language contact and change, Creoles, pidgins and Koine, language description and documentation, languages and linguistics of Africa and the Caribean, as well as areal linguistics and linguistic typology. His numerous publications appear in Language, English World-Wide, and many other journals. 


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How to Cite

Bisilki, A. K., & Yakpo, K. (2021). ‘The heart has caught me’: Anger metaphors in Likpakpaln (Konkomba). Sociolinguistic Studies, 15(1), 65–89. https://doi.org/10.1558/sols.42338