Title: Unpacking modified idiomatic expressions in Kenyan political discourse: A cognitive linguistic perspective


Vol. 10(2), 2022, pp. 48-65.



Author: George Ouma Ogal


About the author: George Ouma Ogal is a Doctoral student pursuing Applied Linguistics at Laikipia University, Kenya. His major research interests include Cognitive Linguistics, Indigenous Languages, Discourse Analysis, Sociolinguistics, English Semantics and Pragmatics, Phonetics and Phonology.




Author: Eliud Kiruji Kirigia


About the author: Eliud Kiruji Kirigia, PhD is a Professor of Applied Linguistics at Laikipia University, Kenya. He currently serves as the Chairperson of the Department of Literary and Communication Studies. He has supervised several postgraduate students both at Masters and PhD. His research interests include Phonology, Phonetics, Phonology, Semantics, Applied Linguistics, and Discourse Analysis among others.  


Author: Victor Ondara Ntabo


About the author: Victor Ondara Ntabo is a scholar in Linguistics. He is currently a PhD candidate pursuing Applied Linguistics at Laikipia University, Kenya. His research interests are in indigenous languages, language learning and teaching and Cognitive Linguistics.



Citation (APA style): Ogal, G. O., Kirigia, E. K., & Ntabo, V. O. (2022). Unpacking modified idiomatic expressions in Kenyan political discourse: A cognitive linguistic perspective. Studies in Linguistics, Culture, and FLT, 10(2), 48-65.




Abstract: Political discourse employs colorful expressions to establish strong relationships with the audience. Speakers or writers exploit the relationship between human language and socio-political experiences to initiate creative discourses through modification of expressions. Against this background, this study sets out to investigate the meaning of modified idiomatic expressions in Kenyan political discourse. The study has two objectives: to describe the structural and lexical modification of idiomatic expressions and to interpret the modified forms using vital relations. The study employs descriptive research design. The study randomly sampled ten idioms used during the 2017 General Elections and used content analysis to establish the lexical and structural relationships between the canonical and modified expressions. The idioms were analyzed using the Conceptual Integration Theory to preserve the link between two expressions and account for the emergent meaning. The study found that Kenyan political discourse achieves figurative competencies through modified idioms. Interpretation of modified idioms requires a thorough understanding of vital relations and pragmatic inferences. Further, Cognitive Linguistics establishes backstage cognition and supplies the elements omitted by grammar. The study concludes that modified idiomatic expressions achieve contextual significance. Consumers of modified idiomatic expressions should immerse themselves in the socio-political backgrounds to unmask the emergent meaning.

Keywords: modified idioms, vital relations, political discourse, Conceptual Integration Theory, Cognitive Linguistics



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