Cross-modal Perception in Kirundi


Emmanuella Ahishakiye1, 2, 1University of Burundi, Burundi, 2University of Liège, Belgium


Languages do not always use specific perception words to refer to specific senses. A word from one sense can metaphorically express another physical perception meaning. For Kirundi, findings from a corpus-based analysis revealed a cross-modal polysemy and a bidirectional hierarchy between higher and lower senses. The attested multisensory expression of auditory verb kwûmva ‘hear’ allows us to reduce sense modalities to two –vision and audition. Moreover, the auditory experience verb kwûmva ‘hear’ shows that lower senses can extend to higher senses through the use of synaesthetic metaphor (e.g. kwûmva akamōto ‘lit:hear a smell’/ururírīmbo ruryōshé ‘lit: a tasty song’/ururirimbo ruhimbâye ‘lit: a pleasant song). However, in collocations involving emotion words, it connects perception to emotion (e.g.; kwûmva inzara ‘lit: hear hunger’, kwûmva umunêzēro ‘lit: hear happiness’). This association indicates that perception in Kirundi gets information from both internal and external stimuli. Thus, considering feelings as part of the perception system.


Sense Modality, Kirundi, cross-modal perception, lexical semantics, synaesthetic metaphor.

Full Text  Volume 11, Number 10