EATING and DRINKING in Afrikaans – a lexical semantic study
This article reports on a cognitive semantic, corpus-based investigation into the semantics of
eating and drinking in Afrikaans. It is part of a bigger research project on these concepts and
builds on research by Taljard and Bosman (2014) on cross-linguistic variation between Northern
Sotho and Afrikaans metaphors for eating, by also including metaphors for drinking in the analysis.
The current article has as its focus the semasiological network of verbs in the word fields of eating
and drinking and involves more than metaphor identification, although it is undoubtedly the case
that metaphor plays an important role in such a network of expanding meanings. The study can broadly be described as Cognitive Semantic and in particular makes use of the insights regarding
polysemy whithin this field. Conceptual Metaphor Theory as initially developed by Lakoff and
Johnson (1980), Kövecses (1986) and Lakoff (1987a, 1987b, 1993) provided the heuristic tools
for analysing the linguistic metaphors that were identified. Newman’s (1997, 2009b) work on what
he terms the “linguistics of eating and drinking” served as the stimulus for the research.
The methodology chosen to identify the metaphors is empirical and corpus-based. As
Stefanowitsch (2007:12) points out, corpus-based research into conceptual metaphors is still
relatively new. In the light of Steen et al.’s (2010) plea for more rigorous methods in linguistics
in general, and in metaphor research in particular, this study aimed to complement linguistic
intuition with data extracted from two Afrikaans corpora, namely the University of Pretoria
Afrikaans Corpus (UPAK, 15 million running words) and the corpus of the Language Commission
of the South African Academy of Science and Arts (44 million running words). In addition, the
Woordeboek van die Afrikaanse Taal (“Dictionary of the Afrikaans Language”) and De Stadler
and De Stadler’s Tesourus van Afrikaans (“Thesaurus of Afrikaans”) were used.
The focus of this investigation was not so much the verbs “to eat” and “to drink”, signifying
the activity of physically eating, as the conceptual notions of eating and drinking. Hence, the
search words included not only the lexical items eet (“eat”) and drink (“drink”) and their derived
forms, but also verbs which are semantically related to the notions of eating and drinking, such
as vreet (“eating done by animals”), suip (“drinking done by animals”), verteer (“consume”)
and insluk (“swallow, gulp down”). After identifying possible search words, Wordsmith Tools was
used to generate concordances in which the words could be studied in their context. Linguistic
metaphors were identified by means of a manual search of the concordance lines.
The folk theory of the processes of eating and drinking was used to look for the motivation
behind the metaphors. The embodied experience of the two processes and visual images
representing the destruction and disappearance of the physical food and fluids clearly play a role
in the creation of the metaphors. Moreover, some of the lexical items in the word field of eating
and drinking, such as vreet, suip, verteer and verorber, carry additional emotive semantic meanings
and associated images which contribute to the motivation underpinning, for example, metaphors
As in Newman (2009b), the metaphorical expressions were grouped into two main categories:
the first was based on the concept of internalisation, the second on that of destruction. Metaphors
such as EMOTIONAL OR INTELLECTUAL ACTIVITY IS EATING/DRINKING; EMOTIONAL
OR SPIRITUAL PAIN IS DRINKING; INTELLECTUAL ACTIVITY IS EATING and ACCEPTING
IDEAS IS EATING/DRINKING were grouped under Internalisation. DIMINISHING IS EATING/
DRINKING, PHYSICAL OR SPIRITUAL TORMENT OR TORTURE IS EATING and
DISAPPEARING OR ABSENCE IS EATING/DRINKING were grouped under the metaphors of
destruction. Where metaphors showed evidence of both internalisation and destruction, such as
ENSLAVEMENT or VICTORY IS EATING, they were discussed in a third group.
An analysis of the polysemous structure of some of the verbs showed that conceptual metaphors
such as PHYSICAL TORMENT IS EATING are present in the figurative meaning extensions and
are fully lexicalised in Afrikaans.
Lakoff (1993) suggests that some metaphors are universal, some are widespread and some
are culture-specific. It may be argued that most of the Afrikaans metaphors that were identified
are universal and not culture-specific, probably because the concepts themselves do not depend
on specific cultural codes, but stem from universal embodied experiences. With regard to
methodological considerations, it was noted that Stefanowitsch’s call for more quantitative research
to indicate the relative frequency and salience of certain metaphors still poses a challenge for
Die artikel is ’n kognitief semantiese, korpusgebaseerde leksikale ondersoek na die konsepte EET
en DRINK in Afrikaans en vorm een onderdeel van ’n groter navorsingsprojek. Die artikel sluit
aan by die studie van Taljard en Bosman (2014) wat interkulturele variasie tussen Noord-Sotho
en Afrikaanse EET-metafore ondersoek en brei hierop uit deur ook DRINK-metafore te betrek.
Die groter polisemiese struktuur van werkwoorde in die eet- en drinkwoordvelde is vervolgens
ook by die ontleding betrek. As teoretiese raamwerk is die konseptuele metafoorteorie gebruik.
Metafore is geïdentifiseer deur twee groot korpusse, naamlik die Universiteit van Pretoria
Afrikaanse Korpus en die Taalkommissiekorpus met soekwoorde wat verband hou met die konsepte
EET en DRINK te deursoek. Die motiverende rol wat die volksverstaan van die eet- en drinkprosesse
speel in die tussendomeinkarterings is ondersoek en daar is aangetoon dat ons beliggaamde
ervaring van die twee prosesse die groot dryfkrag is agter die totstandkoming van die metafore.
Vir die bestudering van die interne polisemiese netwerke is daar gesteun op artikels in die WAT.
Een afleiding wat gemaak word, is dat figuurlike betekenisuitbreidings, wat op grond van
konseptuele metafore met die letterlike, meer basiese betekenisse skakel, volledig geleksikaliseer
is in Afrikaans. In die slotparagraaf word aspekte soos die ouderdom en moontlike universele
aard van die metafore aangeraak.