Conceptualizing MATURITY in the Mfantse dialect of Akan
Keywords:semantics, metonymic mapping, conceptualizing maturity, experiential realities, Mfantse (Akan), Ghana
This paper investigates metonymic expressions that express MATURITY in the Mfantse dialect of Akan. Studies in English and Akan have demonstrated that, through metonym (and metaphor), concrete concepts and experiential realities like the heartbeat, redness of the eyes, and hotness of the skin serve as grounding for the conception of abstract concepts like fear, joy, sadness, and anger (Kövecses, 1986, 1990, 1991; Agyekum, 2018). This study analyzes the features that qualify a subject for maturity among the Mfantse people which is an understudied topic. Similar to the conception of emotions, concrete concepts, as well as experiential realities, are used to express the mature state of an entity. Thus, expressions of maturity encode cognitive underpinnings that reflect the experience, culture, and the environment of the speakers of the language. The study uses a qualitative design. Fifteen Akan speakers were purposively selected for this study. We used semi-structured interviews to collect data. Findings indicate that concrete concepts, as well as experiential realities like CHANGE-OF-STATE and CROP FLORESCENCE, serve as grounding to mark the maturity of a subject. The effect of maturity is used as the vehicle to access the subject of maturity. It was concluded that, according to the Mfantse people, maturity is an innate trait that is marked by signs, transition, deeds, and relationships. This study collects, indexes, catalogues, and describes metonymic expressions of maturity, and opens up an opportunity to probe further into the role of difference in the sociolinguistic real-time use of these everyday metonyms (and metaphors) as well as the dynamism of metonymy in everyday use of the Mfantse people.
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