Article published in:The Linguistics of Temperature
Edited by Maria Koptjevskaja-Tamm
[Typological Studies in Language 107] 2015
► pp. 43–72
“Hard sun, hot weather, skin pain”
The cultural semantics of temperature expressions in Ewe and Likpe (West Africa)
Temperature is talked about in different ways across languages. In this paper, I explore the linguistic expressions used to talk about temperature focussing on three domains of experience in two languages in an asymmetric contact relation, Ewe and Likpe, both Kwa (Niger-Congo) languages of West Africa. Likpe speakers are bilingual in Ewe but not vice versa. The empirical question addressed is: how do speakers of Ewe and Likpe talk about the hotness and coldness of (i) things such as food and water; (ii) places and the ambience; and (iii) the personal experience of hotness and coldness in one’s body. I will argue that both languages do not have equivalents for ‘temperature’. Secondly I will show that “temperature property”, being a physical quality, is basically expressed using verbs and verb phrases (less so by nouns and ideophones) consistent with their typological profile. Moreover I argue that the range of expressions available in the two languages for talking about ‘water’ is more elaborate than the other domains of experience, some of which are linked to cultural practices such as bathing. I also investigate the construal of ‘hotness’ in Ewe and propose semantic descriptions of the predicates involved representing them in Natural Semantic Metalanguage-style explications. While some of the expressions for ‘hotness’ can be accounted for through a link to ‘fire’ as suggested by Goddard and Wierzbicka (2007), I argue that we need another prototype anchor for other expressions of ‘hotness’, namely, ‘pain’. In the ambient domain, the experience of the temperature generated by the sun itself is talked about using predicates from the domain of the physical property of texture. The conceptual motivations for such usage are also explored.
Published online: 11 February 2015
Adjei, Franscisca Adzo
2012 Temperature system of Siyasɛ and Ewe. In Selected Proceedings of the 41st Annual Conference on African Linguistics, Bruce Connell & Nicholas Rolle (eds), 104-116. Somerville MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project. www.lingref.com, document #2741>
Ameka, Felix K.
Ameka, Felix K. & Essegbey, James
Berlin, Brent & Kay, Paul
2001 Verbal Alternations in Ewe. MPhil dissertation, University of Ghana, Legon.
Bobuafor, Mercy, Osam, E. Kweku & Agbedor, Paul
Eriksen, Pål, Kittilä, Seppo & Kolehmainen, Leena
2009 Temperaturtermini in afrikanischen Sprachen [Temperature terms in African languages]. Magisterarbeit, Universität Bayreuth.
1999 Inherent Complement Verbs Revisited. Towards Understanding Argument Structure in Ewe. PhD dissertation, Leiden University.
Goddard, Cliff & Wierzbicka, Anna
2007 Guidelines for collecting linguistic expressions for temperature concepts: Version 1. http://temperature.ling.su.se/images/7/7c/Guidelines.pdf (11 October 2009).
2011 “It’s boiling hot!” On the structure of the linguistic temperature domain across languages. In Rahmen des Sprechens. Beiträge zur Valenztheorie, Varietätenlinguistik, Kognitiven und Historischen Semantik, Sarah Dessì Schmid, Ulrich Detges, Paul Gévaudan, Wiltrud Mihatsch & Richard Waltereit (eds), 393-410. Tübingen: Narr.
Koptjevskaja-Tamm, Maria & Rakhilina, Ekaterina
2003 Temperature talk: The basics. A talk presented at the Workshop on Lexical Typology at the ALT conference in Cagliari, September.
Reznikova, Tatiana, Rakhilina, Ekaterina & Bonch-Osmolovskaya, Anastasia
Cited by 1 other publications
Osei-Tutu, Annabella, Vivian A. Dzokoto, Adjeiwa Akosua Affram, Glenn Adams, Joakim Norberg & Bertjan Doosje
This list is based on CrossRef data as of 28 february 2021. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers. Any errors therein should be reported to them.