Metaphors of an endangered Low Saxon basis dialect – exemplified by idioms of STUPIDITY and DEATH

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This paper examines metaphors that are handed down in idioms of an old Low Saxon basic dialect. About 30 years ago it was still possible to collect a comprehensive inventory of idioms with the help of the last generation of old-established dialect speakers who had knowledge of their native language in its former originality. Although located in West Europe, the dialect reveals unique metaphors and archaic concepts which, for the most part, seem to be unparalleled by other European languages analyzed so far. They are rooted in the traditional material and social culture of a rural society in times bygone. By means of idioms from the semantic fields stupidity and death we will show that an adequate interpretation requires activating special knowledge structures, available only to the last dialect speakers.


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