LINGUIST List 10.1240

Mon Aug 23 1999

Sum: How woman are conceptualized

Editor for this issue: James Yuells <jameslinguistlist.org>


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  1. zmaalej, How woman are conceptualized

Message 1: How woman are conceptualized

Date: Sun, 22 Aug 1999 13:09:18 +0200
From: zmaalej <zmaalejgnet.tn>
Subject: How woman are conceptualized

Dear List Members,

A few weeks ago, I posted a query on how women are conceptualized in
different languages and cultures. I would like first to acknowledge my
debt to the many people who responded to the query by sending their
own publications on the issue, showing their interest in the subject,
contributing the conceptualization of their own language, and even
promising to contribute in the future. In particular, I would like to
mention in alphabetical order Adriano Allora and Manuala Manera, Linda
Bawcom, Donald Carroll, Luis Faiska, Andrea Faulstich, Caitlin Hines,
Masako Hiraga, Dina Koschorreck, Ahmad Reza Lotfi, Stephen Matthews,
Anette Nielsen, Marina Rakova, Esther Schely-Newman, Kazuko Shinohara,
Tamar Sovran, Marina Terkourafi, Sirje Virkus, Sheila Webster Boneham.
I do apologise if I left out any others.

The contributions received concern the following languages: Cantonese,
Danish, German, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, Persian, Portuguese,
Russian, and Spanish. Obviously, this is a small corpus of languages,
and I hope to receive contributions from other languages. The
preliminary conclusion that I have drawn from the data I received
confirms Lakoff & Johnson's (1999) claim that the three aspects of the
mind are "the cognitive unconscious, the embodiment of mind, and
metaphorical thought." To venture a tentative conclusion, it seems
that the aforementioned languages conceptualise women by relying on
embodiment, using the mapping domains of animals, food, objects,
plants, etc. However, they may use different conceptual metaphors
altogether (i.e. metaphoric expressions that are only intelligible to
their own users), the same conceptual metaphor with different lexical
realisation, or the same conceptual metaphor and the same linguistic
expression. It also seems that the choice of linguistic metaphors (and
hence its corresponding conceptual one) can be highly dependent on
cultural considerations as when, for instance, Arabic, Persian, and
Russian (as my respondents confirmed it) do use the conceptual
metaphor, WOMAN IS A MYTHICAL CREATURE, while other languages in the
data do not. I will not try to jump to any conclusion concerning this
particular point so long as the corpus is not more representative of
human languages. Such an important conclusion will only be possible if
more languages enter into the picture.

If any colleagues find this topic stimulating, but feel that my
conclusions do not correspond to the reality of their culture, they
are welcome to get in touch with me. And if others feel attracted to
the findings (?) of this query, and want to know more about it, they
may contact me off-list.

Zouhair Maalej,
Department of English Chair,
Faculty of Letters, Manouba, 2010,
University of Tunis I, TUNISIA.
Office Phone: (+216) 1 600 700 Ext. 174
Office Fax: (+216) 1 520 910
Home Tel/Fax: (+216) 1 362 871
Email: zmaalejgnet.tn
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