Resonating embodiment

Everyday metaphorical abstractions in Safaliba

Authors

  • Ari Sherris Texas A&M University-Kingsville
  • Paul Schaefer Ghana Institute of Linguistics, Literacy, and Bible Translation
  • Eden Kosiaku Ghana Education Service

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/sols.42385

Keywords:

Safaliba, conceptual metaphor, Ghanaian Indigenous language, endangered language

Abstract

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/.

Author Biographies

Ari Sherris, Texas A&M University-Kingsville

Ari is an Associate Professor of Bilingual Education at Texas A&M University-Kingsville. During the 2015-16 academic year, he was a J. William Fulbright Scholar at the University of Education, Winneba, Ghana. During June 2019, Ari was a distinguished guest researcher at the University of South Africa. He holds a PhD in Second Language Development, an MA in Applied Linguistics, and a BA in the Humanities Ari's research and language revitalization interests include Mikasuki, Salish Ql'ispe (a.k.a. Salish-Pend d'Oreille, Montana Salish, and Flathead Salish) and Safaliba. His ethnographic work documents situated practice in grassroots policy initiatives and school-based activism among the Safaliba in rural Ghana.  His language documentation includes conceptual metaphors and formulaic language in Salish Ql'ispe and Safaliba. He also explores applications of task-based language teaching in the pedagogy of revitalization. His practitioner papers analyze integrated content and language instruction, academic English instruction for graduate students, and asset-based coaching for and by language teachers (e.g., peer coaching, critical friending in educational contexts). 

Paul Schaefer, Ghana Institute of Linguistics, Literacy, and Bible Translation

Paul Schaefer holds a PhD from the University of Texas at Arlington and has documented Safaliba prosody, morphology, syntax, and pragmatics. He is a linguistics and translation consultant with GILLBT, the Ghana affiliate of SIL International, and has worked with representatives of several different languages of northern Ghana in orthography development and literacy efforts.

Eden Kosiaku, Ghana Education Service

Eden Kosiaku hold a B.Ed. from the University of Education, Winneba and he is a member of the Safaliba ethnic group from Mandari, Ghana. He teaches Primary 5 in Bole, Ghana, and has been a Safaliba activist, as a community organizer supporting the development of children’s books as well as writing Safaliba poetry.

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Published

2021-09-10

How to Cite

Sherris, A., Schaefer, P., & Kosiaku, E. (2021). Resonating embodiment: Everyday metaphorical abstractions in Safaliba. Sociolinguistic Studies, 15(1), 135–156. https://doi.org/10.1558/sols.42385