The semantic extensions of tu ‘to uproot’/‘to pull out’ in Nzema discourse
A Conceptual Metaphoric Perspective
Keywords:semantics, verbs, communication, cultural conceptual metaphors, Nzema, Ghana
Nzema refers to both the language and the people who speak it. The language is spoken predominantly among the people who occupy the South-west part of the Western Region of Ghana as well as some parts of Côte d’Ivoire (Annan, 1980, 1994). Nzema forms part of the Niger-Congo Kwa language family. Many studies across languages have had their focus on the basic and extended usages of ‘eat’ and ‘drink’ (ingestion) verbs. Among such studies are Prins (1993), Newman (1997), Atintono and Adjei (2008), Aikhenvald (2009), Adjei (2013), Agyepong, Amfo and Osam (2017), and Otoo (2017). Several works, including Agyekum (2002, 2013, 2015a, 2015b, 2016) and Otoo (2018) have also examined the metaphorical extensions of human body parts and verbs of perception. In Nzema, however, studies on cultural schemas and conceptualisations are scanty. This paper, therefore, explores the basic and metaphorical interpretations of the disconnection verb, tu ‘to uproot’/‘to pull out’ in Nzema communication. The paper relies on Conceptual Metaphor Theory (Lakoff and Johnson, 1980) with insights from ‘Cultural Conceptual Metaphors’ (Sharifian, 2011). Data were obtained from spontaneous natural speech contexts among the Nzema. Additional data were gathered by consulting other written sources like Nzema novels and drama books to extract some expressions involving the verb tu. Interviews with knowledgeable Indigenous speakers and my introspection as a native speaker were significantly brought to bear on this study. The paper finds that the basic sense of the verb is possibly projected to describe other abstract notions such as tu ahonle ‘heart uproot’ (to be afraid); tu ay?ne ‘uproot witchcraft’ (to drive a demon out of a person), tu belemgbunli ‘uproot a chief’ (to distool a chief), tu edw?k? sie (to postpone/adjourn a case), among others. The paper shows that the verb tu is ‘polysemous’, and can participate in causative/inchoative alternation.
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