The Value of Conceptual Mental Spaces in Structuring a Man as (Endagera) Food in Ekegusii

Victor Ondara Ntabo, James Ogola Onyango, Nelson Ng’arua Ndiritu


Food is useful in the transference of semantic aspects that are vital in the construction of masculinity in society. Consequently, foodsemic metaphors that aid in the conceptualization of omosacha (a man) are pervasive in Ekegusii. Metaphor use may, however, present difficulties in comprehension due to the various interpretations that may be assigned to each of them. The meaning of Ekegusii foodsemic metaphors may, therefore, be elusive to the native speakers of Ekegusii. The paper employs the principle of conceptual mental spaces to interpret Ekegusii foodsemic metaphor within the Cognitive Linguistics framework. The study adopts descriptive research design. First, the terms that are used to describe men in Ekegusii are identified by administering an interview schedule to 48 Ekegusii native respondents purposively sampled on the basis of gender. The data collected is then subjected to the Metaphor Identification Procedure Vrije Universiteit (MIPVU) in which four annotators are used to identify Ekegusii male metaphors. Through the MIPVU, 52 metaphors are identified. The paper then selects one metaphor that describes a man as food hence the Ekegusii foodsemic metaphor for this study. The research reveals that the integration of the four conceptual mental spaces that include two input spaces, the generic space and the blended space is resourceful in structuring a man as a symbol of nourishment in Ekegusii. Moreover, the MIPVU is unveiled as a useful metaphor identification method that provides a clear guide in the establishment of precise metaphors for study. The study concludes that metaphors are integral components of communication and should be explained using the Cognitive Linguistics paradigm. The findings of the study will contribute to Linguistics especially the field of Cognitive Linguistics which is relatively new and has not been subjected to extensive research. In addition, the findings will be useful to metaphor scholars in comprehending Ekegusii male metaphors and culture.


Cognitive Linguistics, Ekegusii, Mental Spaces, GCBM, Foodsemic Metaphors, MIPVU

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