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Conceptualizing the economy as a living organism: vivification in Arab economic discourse

Mikolaj Domaradzki
From the journal Text & Talk

Abstract

The present paper is a corpus-based inquiry into the importance of vivification for producing a systematic and persuasive Arab economic discourse. Thus, this article examines how and why the economy is metaphorically conceptualized in modern Arabic as a Living Organism that can be said to ‘grow’, ‘revive’, etc. Having analyzed the frequency with which the various instantiations of this generic metaphor appear in Arab economic discourse, the paper goes on to discuss the value judgments that they convey. The analogy between a living organism and an economy is shown to induce very specific evaluations of such conditions as ‘growing’ or ‘being revived’. Hence, vivification is demonstrated to play a vital role in providing Arab economic discourse with textual cohesion. Although this article argues for the universal bodily grounding of the Economy Is A Living Organism metaphor, it also shows this experiential basis to be subject to cultural interpretation. The analyses carried out here suggest that projecting such physical concepts as those of ‘growth’ or ‘revival’ onto the social domain of economics entails that they are interpreted in accordance with the particular social interests of a given community.

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank Professor Dilworth Parkinson for his kind permission to use the data from the Arabic Corpus, his illuminating instructions and helpful explanations. I would also like to extend my thanks to Husam Freikh for his useful comments on the Arabic examples. Finally, I am indebted to the two anonymous reviewers for their insightful remarks and inspiring criticisms. At the same time, I wish to acknowledge that all errors are mine alone.

Appendix

In the morpheme-by-morpheme glosses, the following standard abbreviations are used:

3

third person

ACC

accusative

CONJ

conjunction

DEF

definite

DU

dual

F

feminine

GEN

genitive

M

masculine

PART

particle

PAS

Passive

PL

plural

PREP

preposition

PRS

present

PST

past

SG

singular

SBJV

subjunctive

In accord with the established convention, the class of every verb is marked by a Roman numeral.

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Published Online: 2016-6-21
Published in Print: 2016-7-1

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