Journal of
Languages and Culture

  • Abbreviation: J. Lang. Cult.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-6540
  • DOI: 10.5897/JLC
  • Start Year: 2010
  • Published Articles: 132

Full Length Research Paper

Language attrition in bicultural bilinguals: Evidence from Neo-Aramaic animal metaphors

Ala Al-kajela
  • Ala Al-kajela
  • McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, ON L8S 4M2 Canada.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 30 March 2017
  •  Accepted: 21 May 2017
  •  Published: 31 August 2017


Animal-based metaphors are ubiquitous in natural languages with distinct cross-cultural implications. In this study, these conventional or dead metaphors, so to speak, are used as a tool to measure language erosion and cultural integration. We assumed that Neo-Aramaic-English bicultural bilinguals (NA-E) and Canadian-English speakers (CE) have the linguistic and cultural capacity necessary to establish concerted conceptualizations and culturally agreed upon connection between the target and source domain of these metaphors. This assumption was based on the fact that animals are one of the main categories of language vocabulary that native speakers learn during the early stages of their linguistic development. We selected widely known animal metaphors- 13 had identical meanings and 11 had culturally distinct meanings. The results showed no significant difference between the two groups as to the meaning of identical metaphors and animal gender associations. However, we found a significant statistical difference in the good and poor match of the culturally distinct metaphors. Animal gender associations did not show any significant difference. The frequency scale did not show any significant difference except for 'always' with distinct metaphors.  

Key words: Neo-Aramaic, cultural integration, animal metaphors, language attrition