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Bookmark and Share Paper 2776

Mafumbo: Considering the Functions of Metaphorical Speech in Swahili Contexts
Clarissa Vierke
278-290 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


Veiled speech loaded with metaphors is found in various Swahili discourses, where they have been considered to fulfill different functions as poetic markers, politeness strategy, or reflexes of cognitive mechanisms generally at work in language. While so far social, poetic and cognitive functions have never been considered together, this paper asks if and how they can be reconciled drawing on cognitive linguistics, politeness theory, as well as emic and etic notions of the poetic: is the metaphor a (revealing) conceptual mechanism or a (disguising) poetic device? Considering particularly the poetic function of the metaphor, the article lastly turns to three different poetic domains (religious and philosophical poetry, erotic poetry, and political poetry) which all draw on the poetic metaphor's essential characteristic: ambiguity.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 42nd Annual Conference on African Linguistics: African Languages in Context
edited by Michael R. Marlo, Nikki B. Adams, Christopher R. Green, Michelle Morrison, and Tristan M. Purvis
Table of contents
Printed edition: $320.00