Academic journal article Sign Language Studies

Selected Lexical Patterns in Saudi Arabian Sign Language

Academic journal article Sign Language Studies

Selected Lexical Patterns in Saudi Arabian Sign Language

Article excerpt


This combined paper will focus on the description of two selected lexical patterns in Saudi Arabian Sign Language (SASL): metaphor and metonymy in emotion-related signs (Young) and lexicalization patterns of objects and their derivational roots (Palmer and Reynolds). The over-arcing methodology used by both studies is detailed in Stephen and Mathur (this volume). However, study-specific methodology is included in the separate methodology sections below.

Metaphor and Metonymy in Emotion-Related Signs

This section looks at the work done by Young on the manifestation of metaphor and metonymy in emotion-related signs in SASL. Huang (2002) explains that there are three models for discourses on emotion: the metaphorical model, the métonymie model, and the grammatical model. He argues that, in some languages, these models account for the linguistic findings better than others do. Lakoff and Johnson (2003, 5) state that "the essence of metaphor is understanding and experiencing one kind ofthing in terms of another." Metonymy, on the other hand, uses one thing to refer to another (Lakoff and Johnson 2003). The grammatical model looks at particular expressions, in this case, emotional expressions. As this article presents only single lexical items, not expressions, the grammatical model is not implemented. Rather, we discuss the motivation of emotion signs in SASL through the metaphoric and métonymie models. This topic not only furthers our knowledge of SASL but also provides a better understanding of the cultural values of four deaf signers from Saudi Arabia. Following Huang's experience that not all of the models are always applicable to linguistic findings, this article seeks to determine which model(s), if any, are applicable to SASL.

Many types of metaphors appear in our language, and all of them help us structure our world and our thoughts. One example is arguments are war (Lakoff and Johnson 2003). As a result, we encounter phrases such as "It was a battle of wits ."Another metaphor is happy is up (ibid.). The converse of this metaphor suggests the English expression "I was feeling down today," where sadness is oriented down. These types of metaphors help us to talk about things in our everyday lives.

Kövecses (2003) adds to Lakoff and Johnson s idea of metaphor by introducing the notion of a master metaphor, which is a single underlying representation "for the domain that organizes most of the diverse metaphors" for a concept into a coherent system (Kövecses 2003, 87). Kövecses identifies the metaphor emotions are forces as the master metaphor for emotions. According to him, one system is used to organize distinct emotions into a "coherent whole" (Kövecses 2003, 192). Thus, we can use this image to understand the use of metaphor in discussions of emotions.

Kövecses (2003, 2006, 2010) also investigates metaphor specifically in terms of emotion concepts: "[EJmotion concepts such as anger, fear, love, happiness, sadness, shame, pride, and so on are primarily understood by means of conceptual metaphors" (2010, 23). Thus, we see a range of metaphors that apply to emotion concepts. Some metaphors identified for emotions in general included existence of emotion is being in a bounded space and existence of emotion is possession of an object. Other such metaphors are increase in intensity is growth, attempt at EMOTIONAL CONTROL IS TRYING TO SUPPRESS FLUID IN A CONTAINER, and THE BODY IS A CONTAINER (FOR EMOTIONS). Emotional concepts and metaphors for these concepts are expressed in many different cultures.

We also structure our language for understanding by the use of metonymy, which serves as a referential device and promotes understanding. The expression "There are a lot of good heads in the university" (LakofF and Johnson 2003, 37) is an example of metonymy. Here, "good heads" signifies intelligent people. Thus, metonymy is used for the many of the same purposes as metaphor; however, it focuses more on a referential entity. …

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