Hans-Georg Wolf , Hong Kong University, Hong Kong; Frank Polzenhagen , Humboldt University Berlin, Germany.
4 Conclusion (S. 209-210)
With this book, we tried to make a contribution to two vibrant fields in linguistics - Cognitive Linguistics and world Englishes - by means of synthesis. In recent years, Cognitive Linguistics has witnessed an increasing interest in issues of language variation and culture-specific conceptualizations, which has led to the emergence of a Cognitive Sociolinguistics. In WE, a field which is intrinsically concerned with variation, the treatment of culture has been mixed.
As we outlined in chapter 1, more conventional descriptivists in the tradition of Saussure by and large disregard the role of culture in the formation of language and language varieties, beyond loanwords. Others, who basically hold a negative view towards the spread and use of English in second language contexts, identify English with Western culture and do not acknowledge or accept that English has been and is being transformed in non-Western contexts, and is used by second language speakers as a means to express a variety of cultural experiences. These cultural transformations and expressions, in turn, is the research focus of a third group of scholars within WE, yet they lack the methodological means to describe cultural variation rigorously and systematically. It is here where the methods developed in CL, as well as corpus linguistics, as an integral part of Cognitive Sociolinguistics, help to move WE a major step forward. We understand our study to be an example of how this could be done.
Our immediate topic of investigation has been the African cultural model of community. We argued that it is a pan Sub-Saharan model, and the one constitutive of African cosmology and spirituality. This model is flexible enough to admit cultural change, as, for instance, the incorporation of Islam and Christianity - which has at least in part resulted in a cultural fusion - has shown. In fact, as Tengan (1994: 128-129) has argued, flexibility and incorporation is intrinsic to the African cultural system. Still, for incorporation or assimilation to take place, there have to be fairly stable structures to which new elements can be attached or on the basis of which fusion can occur.
From a CL perspective, we take these structures to be conceptual structures, specifically, a network of conceptualizations. In our analysis, we concentrated on four social "relations" expressive of this network: Relations of group membership, pertaining to the social identities of the persons holding the model, relations of mutual obligations, which we identified to be primarily understood in terms of nurture, relations of spirituality, tying community members to cosmological forces, and relations of tensions, prototypically conceived in terms of witchcraft. These dimensions are strongly interrelated, and we found that conceptualizations drawing from the source domain of EATING are highly prevalent in the nurture and tensions discourses.
Just to remind the reader, it is in English that these matters are talked about and that the culture-specific conceptualizations are expressed in. Our examples came from all regions of Sub- Saharan Africa, and we used three different methodologies to arrive at these conceptualizations: the reading of texts, making use of "traditional" metaphor and conceptual blending analysis, corpus linguistic methods, with frequency analysis, the elicitation of cultural keywords, and the tracing of collocational patterns, and, as a supplement, a questionnaire survey involving different tasks. Findings from all three approaches confirmed each other, though the regional corpora we used - the CEC as our West African corpus and the ICE-EA as our East African corpus - were somewhat imbalanced in the expression of the spiritual dimension.