Animal Metaphor in Gĩkũyũ

Florence Gathoni Gachugi, Justine Sikuku, Patrick Kiliku


Animal metaphors are prevalent in many languages. Animals are closely related to the human beings and they provide a rich basis for the conceptualization of human beings and their activities. Using the cognitive linguistics approach, this paper analyses the Gĩkũyũ animal metaphors through the in-depth examination of the terms that refer to the domestic and wild animals namely Ng’ombe ‘cow’, Mbũri ‘goat’, Ngũrwe ‘pig’, Kamũngũrio ‘squirrel’. The paper discusses how these animals are conceptualized in the Gĩkũyũ world view and the metaphoric mappings involved in the interpretation of the animals related metaphors. From the analysis of the data the following mappings emerged: Mappings from the source domain of animals to the target domains of human beings, concrete objects like mobile phones and abstract objects like wealth. The mappings are based on the appearance, behavior and characteristics of the animals. There is also semantic derogation where the negative behavior or characteristics of the animals are mapped to the characteristics or behavior of human beings.


animal metaphors, metaphoric mappings, cognitive linguistics, semantic derogation

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