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«Eating Regret and Seeing Contempt» – A Cognitive Linguistic Approach to the Language of Emotions in Igala (Nigeria)


Lillian Brise

This book deals with the expression of emotions in Igala – a Nigerian minority language with about two million speakers – from a Cognitive Linguistics perspective. The author investigates the network of the Igala language of emotions using the Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM) framework as developed by Anna Wierzbicka and her collaborators. The claims of adequacy of NSM in its present form for the analysis of emotion concepts universally will be challenged. This is due to the way emotions are conceptualized in the Igala language and due to the absence of certain semantic primes which are considered necessary for the analysis of emotions.Therefore, this study presents a testing ground for further development of the framework as well as a peek into research in African languages.

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Chapter One: Background to the Study


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Chapter One

Background to the Study


Interest in the relationship between language and emotion is found across several disciplines and fields of study – psychology, sociology, cultural studies, psychiatry, anthropology, linguistics and more. This multi-disciplinary interest has led to many comparative studies and cross-cultural research aimed at studying the phenomenon of emotions from multiple perspectives. Most studies within the “cognitive” paradigm presuppose that experiential, conceptual and linguistic factors all play related roles in the expression and perception of emotions (cf. Ogarkova 2013: 46). This assumption shapes the methods and approaches used in the analyses of emotions by researchers from the different fields of the Cognitive Linguistics paradigm. The main trends in the study of emotions in Cognitive Linguistics currently include the Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM), Conceptual Metaphor and Metonymy Theory (CMT), Frame and Prototype Semantics. Below is a brief overview of the emergence and development of CL.

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