Everyday metaphorical abstractions in Safaliba
Keywords:Safaliba, conceptual metaphor, Ghanaian Indigenous language, endangered language
The Safaliba are an Indigenous Ghanaian ethnolinguistic group of 7,000–9,000 people (Sherris, Schaefer and Mango Aworo, 2019). They mostly inhabit their traditional lands in a rural area of Ghana’s Savannah Region. There are seven towns and villages where Safaliba (the name of both their language and themselves as a people) is a dominant communicative language resource, as well as another seven towns where Safaliba as a communicative language resource is subordinate (see Fig. 1) to approximately eleven additional Indigenous Ghanaian languages (e.g., Birifor, Choruba, Dagaare, Deg, Gonja, Jula, Kamara, Lobiri, Siti, Vagla, and Waali). Safaliba is a Gur language with an expanding and vibrant, although small, grassroots literacy activity in five government primary schools, two private primary schools, and one informal adult education program. Safaliba storytellers, poets, and teenagers in the communities are using the language in booklets, newsletters, and in some experimental attempts at Safaliba Hip Hop. The purpose of this paper is to document Safaliba metaphors that have as their source domain the human body and their target domain everyday human interactions. We argue that these target domains, although abstract, transform the limits of embodiment and thereby resonate with similar materiality. For instance, if we look at the verb phrase le o? baya poo, which literally means /fall between someone’s legs/, in conceptual metaphor theory that would be the source domain. Its target domain is its figurative meaning, which for the Safaliba is /to beg someone for help or something/. The target domain resonates with components of the original embodied state of something or someone falling between the legs of another, yet is transformed to mean, metaphorically, an abstraction – to supplicate, beg, plead. Another example would be dibi nye?a, which as a source domain means /press chest/, and its target domain is the figurative /console, comfort/.
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