8. Culture-specific conceptualisations of corruption in African English

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In this chapter, we provide a cultural-linguistic analysis of African English expressions from the domains of political leadership, wealth, and corruption, with a special emphasis on the latter. It is an application of theoretical concepts developed in Cognitive Linguistics and cognitive anthropology, in particular of the notions ‘cultural model’, ‘cultural schema’, and ‘conceptual metaphor’. This analytical apparatus, which is briefly surveyed in section 2, is combined with corpus-linguistic methods. Section 3 discusses cultural conceptualisations central to the African community model, and thus provides the background for the focal analysis of linguistic expressions of corruption in section 4. These expressions are found to be induced by a set of underlying conceptual metaphors which in turn reflect salient cultural practices like gift-giving, negotiating and favouritism. These metaphors are euphemistic; they are drawn upon in the conceptualisation of corruption in order to hide the illicit nature of corrupt practices. In our analysis, special attention is paid to food-related and gift metaphors. Section 5 outlines some consequences of the cultural-linguistic approach for the study of the pragmatics of intercultural communication. We argue for the strengthening of the semantic/hermeneutic component, which takes differences in culture-specific conceptualisations into account.


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