Metaphor and bilingual cognition : the case of Akan and English in Ghana

Ansah, Gladys and Koller, Veronika and Semino, Elena (2011) Metaphor and bilingual cognition : the case of Akan and English in Ghana. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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This study employs a cognitive linguistics approach, conceptual metaphor theory (CMT) to investigate bilingual conceptual representation. The study analyses the metaphorical and metonymic expressions commonly used among Akan-English bilinguals in Ghana to talk about different aspects of two basic emotion concepts (ANGER and FEAR) when they speak English. On the one hand, findings from psycholinguistic research on the nature of the bilingual mental lexicon appear somehow inconclusive. On the other hand, cognitive linguistics research on human mental representation tends to focus on evidence from native/monolingual populations. Consequently, this study combines methods from the two related fields of research to explore the nature of the bilingual conceptual representation. In other words, the study analyses bilingual figurative language in order to test two psycholinguistics claims about bilingual conceptual representation. In order to do this, the study includes a cross-linguistic/cross-cultural analysis of the conceptualisation of ANGER and FEAR in Akan and English. A combined method of elicitation and native speaker‟s intuition was used to collect conventional metaphorical expressions of ANGER and FEAR (in English) among Akan-English bilinguals in Ghana. Conceptual metaphors that are believed to underlie these metaphorical expressions were then inferred for analysis. The bilingual metaphors (both linguistic and conceptual) were analysed in the light of conventional metaphors (linguistic and conceptual) of the two concepts among native/monolingual speakers of each of the bilinguals‟ two languages, Akan and English. Findings from this study show further support for the shared storage hypothesis. The findings also confirm the assertion that the bilingual‟s conceptual structure is not a simple addition of the cognitive processes associated with each of his/her languages (Kroll and De Groot 1997) but rather a product of a complex interaction between the two or more languages of the bilingual in intricate ways - what Pavlenko (2009) has called “a conceptual restructuring”.

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14 Jan 2013 16:41
Last Modified:
22 Nov 2023 00:59