South African Journal of African Languages

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Linguistic innovation during a national crisis: An analysis of selected Shona metaphors created during the Zimbabwe crisis

Maxwell Kadenge, George Mavunga


This article discusses the nature of metaphors that were created by Shona speakers in order to capture various aspects of the Zimbabwean political and socio-economic crisis. The data for this study were collected from August to December of 2008 and their analysis is mainly couched within the Cognitive Grammar theory, which looks at metaphor as a conceptual and linguistic phenomenon that involves a mapping relation between two domains, namely, the source domain and the target domain. In this regard, this study adopts the cognitive view that sees metaphor as one of the basic human strategies for dealing with our environment in which we make use of concrete phenomena such as moto lit: ‘fire’, kudhakwa lit: ‘drunkenness’ and kurova lit: ‘beating’, to conceptualize more abstract concepts such as the pain, difficulties and confusion that people experience during a crisis. In addition, this article recommends similar studies on other local languages such as Ndebele, Nambya and Kalanga, to find out whether the same processes that are responsible for linguistic change in the Shona language are also evident in these languages since they are spoken by a considerable percentage of the Zimbabwean populace.

S.Afr.J.Afr.Lang.,2009, 2

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