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Cultural scripting of body parts for emotions: On 'jealousy' and related emotions in Ewe

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Abstract

Different languages present a variety of ways of talking about emotional experience. Very commonly, feelings are described through the use of ‘body image constructions’ in which they are associated with processes in, or states of, specific body parts. The emotions and the body parts that are thought to be their locus and the kind of activity associated with these body parts vary cross-culturally. This study focuses on the meaning of three ‘body image constructions’ used to describe feelings similar to, but also different from, English ‘jealousy’, ‘envy’, and ‘covetousness’ in the West African language Ewe. It is demonstrated that a ‘moving body’, a pychologised eye, and red eyes are scripted for these feelings. It is argued that the expressions are not figurative and that their semantics provide good clues to understanding the cultural construction of emotions both emotions and the body.
... Pawlak (2009) points out that "The study on the emotional load of the lexical inventory and grammatical system of African languages is still in its beginnings" (2009: 95). Nevertheless, a growing body of research can be identified, see for example work on Wolof (Bondéelle 2011), Ewe (Ameka 2002), Dogon (McPherson and Prokhorov 2011), Nilo-Saharan languages (Dimmendaal 2015), Hausa (Pawlak 2014;, Tunesian Arabic (Maalej 2014), and Kambaata (Treis 2018). This paper provides the first ever overview of the expression of feelings in Makhuwa, adding to the knowledge of the expression of emotions and (bodily) feelings in African languages. ...
Article
This study sets out to investigate the insubordinated infinitive in the Bantu language Makhuwa-Enahara (P31, northern Mozambique), which is used with feeling predicates that have passive experiencers. The expression of bodily feelings and emotions in Makhuwa serves as a foundation, highlighting the unique formal and interpretational properties of the insubordinated infinitive within the domain of feelings.
... Cultural variations in metaphorical extensions of boDy parTs have indeed been observed in many languages and cultures around the world (e.g. Goddard 2003;Kövecses 2005;Ibarretxe-Antuñano 2008;Yu 2008;Sharifian et al. 2008;Ponsonnet 2014;Wnuk & Ito 2021), among them African ones, e .g . in Sar (Central Sudanic, Fédry 1976), Zulu (Bantu, Taylor & Mbense 1998), Dholuo (Western Nilotic, Reh 1998, and several other Nilotic and Bantu languages (Dimmendaal 2002), Ewe (Kwa, Ameka 2002), or South Mande languages (Perekhvalskaya 2008) . This paper presents a preliminary corpus-based study of the metaphorical constructions in which the noun ginʔa, which refers to the 'heart' organ (1), is used in Beja. ...
Article
Cross-linguistically, body parts have been claimed to be universally recruited as a source domain for conceptual metaphors. This article presents a preliminary corpus-based study of the metaphorical constructions in which the noun ginʔa ‘heart’ is used in Beja, the sole language of the North-Cushitic branch (Afroasiatic). The semantic and syntactic particularities of the Beja metaphors are discussed within the background of the cognitive theory of embodiment and in comparison with other languages. It is shown that Beja makes use of the widespread metonymy heart for person, and several well-known metaphors, but displays a number of peculiarities in the choice of the collocations with ‘heart’, including in relation with the target semantic domains of the metaphors. Beja heart-based metaphors illustrate one more case of a language where this organ is conceived as the locus for both COGNITION and EMOTION, a double conception which seems to be rare among the languages of Africa.
... The semantics of a one-place construction in Ewe entails that the eventuality came about without an external cause. This is succinctly summed up as "lack of cause" by Essegbey (1999,2008), see also Ameka (2002Ameka ( , 2008. This meaning can be represented in an explanatory The use of the verb in a one-place construction with the sole argument being an entity which is unitary but which can be separable along predetermined lines without destroying the unity of the object is its prototypical pattern. ...
... More specifically, many non-Western languages are reported to not differentiate between emotion and bodily sensation to the same extent that the Western languages do. Accordingly, a higher representation of somatic expressions is noted in the emotion vocabularies of African languages (e.g., Ameka, 2002;Dzokoto & Okazaki, 2006;Geurts, 2002;Nida, 1958;Taylor & Mbense, 1998), as well as in the languages of several Asian and indigenous South and Central American cultures, such as Chewong (Howell, 1981) or Malay (Goddard, 2001). In Wolof, for example, one literal rendering of 'anger' (dafa mer 'she is angry') is paralleled by at least five body-part phrases that label 'anger' experiences of various shades of intensity (Becher, 2003). ...
Chapter
Translation equivalence in the emotion domain is a broad topic that has been variously theorized in many disciplines and that has yielded a rich and multi-aspectual body of empirical findings. This chapter deals with some aspects of this literature. Upon a succinct review of the literature on broad similarities and differences in emotion vocabularies across languages and cultures, several types of cross-lingual asymmetry in lexicalizing individual emotion terms, such as English sadness or French tristesse, are discussed. Particular attention is paid to the aspects of variation that set apart deemed translation equivalents. Furthermore, the chapter proceeds to describe major methodologies, broadly categorized into those used in emotion psychology and linguistics, which can help establish cross-lingual (dis)similarity of emotion meaning.
... Body part terms can either refer to a physical body part, such as the physical eye, or they may refer to parts of the body where things happen because of which one feels something (inside the body). The latter are termed psychologised body parts (Ameka 2002). The same linguistic form may refer to the physical and the psychologised part: for example, Ewe dzi refers to both the physical and psychologised heart. ...
... Body part terms can either refer to a physical body part, such as the physical eye, or they may refer to parts of the body where things happen because of which one feels something (inside the body). The latter are termed psychologised body parts (Ameka 2002). The same linguistic form may refer to the physical and the psychologised part: for example, Ewe dzi refers to both the physical and psychologised heart. ...
... Similarly, in contrast to the high-arousal positive affect (e.g., excitement and happiness) associated with personal fulfillment, theory and research suggest the hypothesis (H3) that local conceptions of well-being implicit in the Ghanaian languages will emphasize the low-arousal positive affective experience (e.g., feelings of relief or peace of mind) associated with fulfillment of social expectations. Finally, research on somatization of affect and the prominence of body referents in Ghanaian-language emotion terms (Ameka, 2002;Dzokoto and Okazaki, 2006;Dzokoto, 2010;Dzokoto et al., 2016;Agyekum, 2019), as well as a normativecontextual focus on material conditions rather than emotional states, suggests the hypothesis (H4) that local language terms will emphasize physical health manifestations of well-being. ...
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