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Temperature terms in the Ghanaian languages in a typological perspective
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Linguistics, General Linguistics.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9592-5780
2015 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This talk deals with the conceptualisation of temperature in some of the Ghanaian languages as reflected in their systems of central temperature terms, such as hot, cold, to freeze, etc. We will discuss these systems in the light of a large-scale cross-linguistic collaborative project, involving 35 researchers (including the present authors) and covering more than 50 genetically, areally and typologically diverse languages (Koptjevskaja-Tamm ed. 2015). The key questions addressed here are how the different languages carve up the temperature domain by means of their linguistic expressions, and how the temperature expressions are used outside of the temperature domain. Languages cut up the temperature domain among their expressions according to three main dimensions: TEMPERATURE VALUES (e.g., warming vs. cooling temperatures, or excessive heat vs. pleasant warmth), FRAMES OF TEMPERATURE EVALUATION (TACTILE, The stones are cold; AMBIENT, It is cold here; and PERSONAL-FEELING, I am cold), and ENTITIES whose “temperature” is evaluated.  Although the temperature systems are often internally heterogeneous, we may still talk about the main temperature value distinctions for the whole system. The Ghanaian languages favour the cross-linguistically preferred two-value systems, with water often described by a more elaborated system. An interesting issue concerns conventionalisation and frequency of expressions with a primary meaning outside of the temperature domain, for temperature uses. For instance, the conventionalised expressions for talking about ‘warm/hot’ in Ewe involve sources of heat (‘fire’) and bodily exuviae (‘sweat’). The Ghanaian languages often manifest numerous extended uses of their temperature terms. However, strikingly, none of them conforms to one of the most widely quoted conceptual metaphors, “affection is warmth” (Lakoff & Johnson 1999:50), which is also true for many other languages in (West) Africa and otherwise.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. 108-109 p.
Keyword [en]
temperature terms, areal semantics, lexical typology, African languages
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Research subject
Linguistics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-128123OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-128123DiVA: diva2:913112
Conference
1st School of Languages Conference, SOLCON 1: "Multilingualism in the African Context: Resource or Challenge", Ghana, Africa, October 27-29, 2015
Available from: 2016-03-19 Created: 2016-03-19 Last updated: 2016-12-16Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
  • apa
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  • de-DE
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More languages
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