Structural properties and cultural values of phraseologisms in West African languages

Structural properties and cultural values of phraseologisms in West African languages
Coordinator: Nina Pawlak (University of Warsaw)

Phraseologisms are various types multi-word expressions which function as individual items and have a unique meaning. They include idioms, word collocations and other stable word combinations ranging from clause constituents up to full sentences.
Linguistic analysis of phraseologisms deals with their structural properties and semantic components of their meaning (Cowie 1998). Phrasal expressions are rich source of information on cultural code associated with linguistic world view (Underhill 2011) with reference to a particular language, but they can also be studied as language expressions in comparative perspective.
The typology of phrasal expressions includes many patterns based on structural components and semantic extensions. The idea of the comparative work on phraseologisms refers to investigating the conceptual basis of the expressions, such as phrasal verbs which are commonly used in West African languages. Cf. Ha(usa) verbs meaning ‘eat’ and ‘drink’ used in phrases ci nasara (lt. eat victory) ‘win’, sha wahala (lit. drink trouble) ‘suffer’ respectively (Jaggar & Buba 2009; Pawlak 2021). Some other concrete verbs which carry more abstract meanings when used in phrasal expressions may be also distinguished. Cf. Ha. buga waya, lit. beat wire ‘to make a (telephone) call’.
The similarities between phraseologisms in different languages may be motivated by the use of culture key-words which go beyond the basic meaning and have cultural associations. Cf. the idiomatic phrase Ina ruwanka?, lit. Where is your water ‘What concern is it of yours?’ in Hausa, in which ruwa ‘water’ is a key-word to denote the notion of something important for people’s interactions. The extensive use of  body-part terms in phrasal expressions raises questions about their areal or language-specific patterns of conceptualization and cultural values (Kraska-Szlenk2014; Sharifian et al. 2008; Ziemke et al. 2007).  
And finally, all phrases in which the connotative meaning is derived from allusion to cultural realia are worth special attention. Cf. Ha. ga dama, lit. to see the right side ‘to die’.  
The panel is intended to attract contributions on inter-linguistic equivalence of phraseological patterns in West African languages, with special attention paid to the above mentioned types of phraseologisms.

Cowie, A.P. (ed.). 1998. Phraseology: Theory, Analysis, and Applications. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Jaggar, Philip, Malami Buba. 2009. Metaphorical extensions of ‘eat’ ⇒ [overcome] and ‘drink’ ⇒ [undergo] in Hausa, in: John Newman (ed.), The Linguistics of Eating and Drinking, Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 229-251.

Kraska-Szlenk, Iwona. 2014. Semantic extensions of body part terms: Common patterns and their interpretation. Language Sciences 44: 15–39.

Pawlak, Nina. 2021. Hausa phraseologisms as a structural property of language and cultural value. Language in Africa 2(1), 91-120.
Sharifian, Farzad, R. Driven, N. Yu and S. Niemeier (eds.). 2008. Culture, Body, and Language: Conceptualizations of Internal Body Organs across Cultures and Languages. Berlin/New  York: Mouton de Gruyter.

Underhill, James W.  2011. Creating Worldviews. Metaphor, Ideology and Language, Edinburgh University Press.

Ziemke, Tom, Jordan Zlatev and Roslyn M.Frank (eds.). 2007. Body, language and mind, vol. I. Embodiment. Cognitive Linguistics Research 35.1. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.


Ultimo aggiornamento 21/03/2022