Hussain Alwan Hussain
2022 / 1 / 11
This paper studies the linguistic characteristics and the pragmatic motives underlying the choice of metaphor in the speech act of compliment by native speakers of Iraqi Arabic. Results show that metaphors are realized primarily as NPs and secondarily as VPs. They also show that the use of metaphorical compliments in evaluating someone s looks, deeds,ī-or-possessions are explicit, which helps to assert the complimentorsí sincerity and tendency to please despite the established local superstition that compliments belie ďevil eyeĒ. All the source domains of the metaphors studied are culture specific, with a cline towards using religious symbols. Complimenting the looks of adult females by adult males are strongly constrained lest they should realize an honour-threatening act. Finally, compliments are preferably coupled with adjacent invocating and well-wishing clauses.
Compliment giving and response are widely used in different societies. Since Pomerantz (1978), a large number of linguistic studies dealing with the two speech acts of compliment and compliment response have been published (e.g. Wolfson (1981)-;- Manes (1983) Herbert (1986, 1989, 1990, 1997)-;- Holmes (1986, 1988, 1990) -;- Billmyer (1990)-;- Chen (1993)-;- Kasper and Schmidt (1996)-;- Urano (1998), Cedar (2006). Many of such studies explore how the linguistic realizations of these two speech acts relate to culture-specific as well as universal pragmatics. The aim of the present paper is more specific in that it describes how metaphor is used by native speakers of Iraqi Arabic.
Within the domain of Arabic regional dialects, Nelson et al s (1993) contrastive study investigated Egyptian and American compliments and found out that that the compliments of both Egyptian and American subjects exhibited a preference towards -dir-ect rather than in-dir-ect means of complimenting through the use of adjectives. In contrast, Egyptian compliments tended to be less frequently used and syntactically longer than those used by American subjects.
In the same vein, Nelson et al. (1996) conducted another contrastive study between Syrian and American compliment responses. Their results indicate that both their Syrian and American subjects preferred compliment acceptanceī-or-mitigation rather than rejecting it. Similar response types were used by both groups, but the American group exhibited a higher use of the "Appreciation Tokens" type than their Syrian counterparts.
Compliment responses in Jordanian Arabic were investigated by Farghal and Al-Khateeb (2001) and their results show that speakers gender plays a crucial role in the formulation, acceptance, and rejection of a compliment.
Al-Gamal (2017) investigated types of complement responses used by male and female speakers of Yemeni Arabic variety, and found that both genders preferred to use the "Appreciation Token" and "Return" compliment response types.
1. Definition of Key Terms
Following Lakoff and Johnson (1980-;- 2003), Metaphoric is used in this paper as a cover term for similes, metaphors, personifications, and metonymy. Lakoff and Johnson (2003: 3) see metaphor as the human mode of understanding one thing in terms of another, and that is why it is extensively used in language. The coauthors argue that the human "conceptual system is largely metaphorical" (ibid. 6). They posit two conceptual domains in metaphorical mappings: the source domain from which the metaphor is drawn (e.g. "gold" in: your speech is gold)-;- and the target domain that one understands (e.g. "your speech" in the previous example" (ibid. 5).
A compliment is a speech act in which the complimentor attributes to the complimentee certain positive deeds, looks,ī-or-possessions that are valued by both the complimentor and the complimentee (cf. Holmes, 1995: 117).
Iraqi Arabic is that variety of colloquial Arabic spoken in Modern Iraq.
2. Data and Procedure
A. Data: All the examples cited in this paper were utterances either the researcher has (over)heard himself throughout the last forty years,ī-or-were cited to him by his acquaintances.
B. Procedures: Iraqi Arabic compliment utterances are taxonomised in accordance to their ďobject of complimentingĒ into the three categories of: looks, deeds and possessions. They are translated into English, transliterated, and their syntactic patterns indicated. Formulaic compliments complimenting same objects are lumped together, and situational clues are given at the end of each example. Then, the discussion and results are offered.
√Ūķ ° √Ūķ ° Ňš Ų »— ř«ŠŚ „ź‘—Ś Ņ «ŠŠŚ „ź‘—Ųݘ-;- Ņ Ňš Ų „š «Šš»śÝŚ !
/Iee, iee, ɂ-;-inti purtuqala mgaʃ-;-rah? Allah mgaʃ-;-riʧ-;-? ɂ-;-inti min inibbiwwa!/
Exc, Exc! You (Be) N ADJ ? Allah (Be) N You? You (Be) PP
Wow, wow! Are you a peeled orange ? Has Allah peeled you ? Youíre from the Prophethood!
(Uttered by a young roaming orange-seller to a European blond-female tourist visiting Hatra.)
”»Õ«š «Šő«Šř : „Š«Ŗ ! «ŠŠŚ Ū” — ŕŠŪŚ«!
/subḥ-;-aan alxaaliq: malaak! ɂ-;-llah yustur ʕ-;-alayha!/
N (Be) NP : NP ! Allah V PP
Grace be to the Creator: An Angel ! May Allah protect her!
(Uttered by a female-employee visiting a female colleague who shows her her newly-born baby-girl.)
Ś–« Ň»šŐ Õ”šŚ Õ”š Ūś”› . Š« ōŠŕŪ »—ÝŚ ° √ő«› ŪšÕ”Ō ! „Õ’Ýš »«ŠŠŚ ś ¬Š «Š»Ū .
/haaծ-;-a ɂ-;-ibniʧ-;- ḥ-;-usna ḥ-;-usin yuusif. Laa ṭ-;-alʕ-;-iih barra, ɂ-;-axaf yinḥ-;-isid! mhaṣ-;-ṣ-;-an billah waɂ-;-aal il bait/
NP Your NP (Be) N. Neg VP You ADV, VP I VP N ! N PP and NP
This baby-son of yours has the beauty of Joseph. Do not take him out of the house, Iím afraid he might be envied. Protected by Allah and the ďMembers of the House of the ProphetĒ.
(Said by a mother to her daughter.)
»”„ «ŠŠŚ «Š—Õ„š «Š—ÕŪ„ : śŐŚŚ ź„— ° ś ŕŪśšŚ źŠś»« ! «ŠŠŚ Ū›—Õݘ-;- »ŪŚ!
/bism illah ir-ahmaan ir-rahiim: waʤ-;-ha gumar, wiʕ-;-iyuuna gloobat! Allah yifarḥ-;-iʧ-;- biih/
PP Allah NP NP: NP (Be) NP, and NP (Be) NP. Allah VP You PP
In the name of Allah, the merciful, the mercy-giver: his face is a moon-;- and his eyes are lighting globes! May Allah impart happiness to you with him!
(Uttered by a female to her older sister on seeing her newly-born baby-boy for the first time.)
. ”»Õ«š „š ’śÝ—! »š ݘ-;- ›÷… ś Ő„«ŠŚ« ¬ŪŚ
/subḥ-;-aan man ṣ-;-awwar! bintiʧ-;- fiḍ-;-ḍ-;-a wʤ-;-amalha aaya/
N (Be) PP ! Your N (Be) NP and PP (Be) NP
Grace be to the Molder! Your daughter is silver and her beauty is an ĎAya.
(Uttered by a female mother on seeing the daughter of her female neighbor in the latterís house.)
«ŠŪś„ ō«Šŕ… Őš»–… .
/ɂ-;-ilyoom ṭ-;-aalʕ-;-a ʤ-;-unbuծ-;-a/
Today, you look (as) a red rose.
ADV VP You NP
«ŠŪś„ ’«Ū—Ś ő»ŠŪš .
/ɂ-;-ilyoom ṣ-;-aaiyra txabbiliin/
Today, you have become maddening.
ADV VP You V
«ŠŪś„ Ňš Ų „řŌÝŲÕŚ.
/ɂ-;-ilyoom ɂ-;-inti mqaddiḥ-;-a/
Today, you are blossoming.
ADV You (Be) NP
«ŠŪś„ ō«Šŕ… ŕ—ś”.
/ɂ-;-ilyoom ṭ-;-aalʕ-;-a ʕ-;-aruus/
Today, you look (as) a bride.
ADV VP You NP
(Examples: a, b, c, d, were uttered on separate occasions by different females to their female-colleagues when they meet first in the morning.)
›ŌśŚ ŠőŌśŌݘ-;- ° źŪ„— «Š”ŌÝ… ! ”»Õ«š «Šř«Ō—!
/fidwa lixduudiʧ-;-, gaeemar is-sadda! subḥ-;-aan ilqaa-dir-/
NP (Be) PP, N NP ! NP (Be) NP! N (Be) NP
(I am) the sacrifice for your cheeks, cream of Alsadda! Grace be to the Mighty.
(Uttered by a mother to the daughter of her neighbor.)
„«‘«Ń «ŠŠŚ ļ ŕŪśšݘ-;- ݘ-;-šŚ« ŌůŚÝ«‘….
/ma ʃ-;-a ɂ-;-allah-;- ʕ-;-yuuniʧ-;- ʧ-;-anha dahhaʃ-;-a/
NP (Be) Allah-;- N Your (Be) ADJ NP
Grace be to Allah-;- your eyes are like a green amulet.
(Uttered by a female designer and tailor to a female customer.)
«ŠŠŚ „ „ŕšŪ »Ő„«ŠŚ . řŠ √ŕś– »—» «Š›Šř .
/Ɂ-;-allah mitmaʕ-;-ni bʤ-;-amalah/
Allah (Be) NP PP. VP You VP Pro PP NP
Allah has mastered his beauty. Say: I take refuge with the God of dawn.
(Uttered by a female to her female neighbor who visits her with her son-boy for the first time.)
ōŪ— „š ōŪś— «ŠŐš… . Ōź ŕŠž «Šő‘» .
/ṭ-;-eer min ṭ-;-iyuur iʤ-;-ʤ-;-anna. dug ʕ-;-al xiʃ-;-ab/
NP PP N PP . VP You PP
A bird from the birds of Paradise. Nock at the wood!
(Uttered by a male to his male-friend on seeing him with his child-boy in a public garden.
Ū« «ŠŠŚ ! »š Ő ‘„ŕ….
/ya Ɂ-;-allah! bintiʧ-;- ʃ-;-amʕ-;-ah/
Voc. Allah! N Your (Be) NP
Oh, My God. Your daughter is a candle.
(Uttered by a male boss to his female-co-employee as she shows him a mobile video of her newly-born female-baby.)
’Ōź Ň–« ź«Šś« ”»Õ«š «Š„’śÝŲ—.
/ṣ-;-udug Ɂ-;-iծ-;-a galou subḥ-;-aan ilmuṣ-;-ṣ-;-awwir/
NP Con VP Pro NP (Be)NP
Itís the truth when they say grace be to the Molder.
(Uttered by a male to his female colleague when she shows him a picture of her teen daughter.)
Ňš Ų ŐšŲÝŪÝůŚ.
You (Be) NP
You are a Geni.
(Uttered by a male to his female college-mate when she paraphrases to him the meaning of a verse line.)
ŇŐ«» Ŗ Šś“.
N Your (Be) NP
Your answers (to the test questions) are almonds.
(Uttered by a male teacher to his male student.)
N Your (Be) NP
Your talk is gold.
N Your (Be) NP.
Your talk is pearls.
N Your (Be) N
Your talk is roses.
N Your (BE) N
Your talk is honey.
N Your (BE) N
Your talk is jewels.
(Uttered on different occasions by a male to his male friend when the latter pronounces some wise opinion, suggestion,ī-or-explanation.)
Õݘ-;-ŪŖ Ū‘—Õ «Š’Ō—.
/ḥ-;-aʧ-;-yak yiʃ-;-raḥ-;- iṣ-;-ṣ-;-a-dir-/
N Your V NP
Your talk makes the chest happy.
(Uttered by a male to his male-friend on reading the formerís text of an argumentative article.)/
Õݘ-;-ŪŖ ŪňŠŐ «Š’Ō—.
/ḥ-;-aʧ-;-yak yiɵ-;-liʤ-;- iṣ-;-ṣ-;-a-dir-/
N Your V NP
Your talk makes the chest icy.
(Uttered by a male employee to his male boss when the latter tells him that he had recommended his promotion.)
Õݘ-;-ŪŖ Ū›—ÝŲÕ «ŠźŠ».
/ḥ-;-aʧ-;-yak yifarriḥ-;- ilgalub/
N Your V NP
Your talk makes the heart glee.
(Uttered by a female member of a Provincial Council to a male colleague-member when the latter recommends a motion.)
ÕŐŪŖ š»ŕ ’«›Ū ļ ”Š„.
/ḥ-;-aʧ-;-yak nabiʕ-;- ṣ-;-aafi, tislam/
N Your (BE) N ADJ -;- V You
Your talk is a pure fountain. Peace be on you.
(Uttered by a friend to his friend after the latter takes the stand at a seminar and persuasively rebuffs the previous speaker.)
You (BE) NP
You are a hero.
(Uttered by a male boy to his male friend when he succeeds in swimming across as speeding river-torrent.)
You (Be) NP
You are a lion.
(Uttered by a father to his son when the former sees that his son has impeccably -restore-d the leg of a broken wood table.)
Ňš –Ū» √„ŕō.
/Ɂ-;-inta ծ-;-iib Ɂ-;-amʕ-;-aṭ-;-/
You (Be) N ADJ
You are a furless wolf.
(Uttered by a student to his senior colleague who solves for him a mathematical problem.)
ŕřŠŖ Ūś“š »ŠŌ.
/ʕ-;-aqlak yoozin balad/
N Your V NP
Your brain weighs a country.
(Uttered by a male to his grandfather when the latter shows to him how to proceed in solving a problem he has with his father-in-law.)
You (BE) NP
Youíre an encyclopedia.
(Uttered by a male to his male friend when the latter relates to him the historical background of a certain civil war.)
You (Be) my N
You are my dictionary.
(Uttered by a female professor of English Novel to her male student who offers in time the meaning of a new word she is not familiar with mentioned in the text she is explaining to the class.)
Ňš √Õ”š „š «ŠÕ«”ś».
/Ɂ-;-inta Ɂ-;-aḥ-;-san min ilḥ-;-asuub/
You (Be) ADJ PP
Youíre better than a computer.
(Uttered by a bank customer to a bank employee when the latter instantly tells him the exact figure of the total annual interest he has to pay on his discounted promissory-note.)
NP (BE) PP
(You are) pepper at work.
(Uttered by a mother to her daughter when she quickly finishes washing three carpets, hangs them out, and comes back asking her what else she has to do.)
A splendid jokey.
(Uttered by a passenger to a van-driver when the latter safely swerves a side to avoid a sudden collision with another speeding truck.)
Ň”„Ŗ ŕŠ„ ° Ūś›řŖ «ŠŠŚ «Š»«—Ū.
/Ɂ-;-ismak ʕ-;-alam, yiwafiqak Ɂ-;-alla albaari/
N Your (BE) NP, V You Allah NP
Your name is a flag. May Allah the Protector grant you good luck.
(Uttered by a fan introduced for the first time to a renowned poet.)
źŠ»Ŗ źŠ» ”„ݘ-;-Ś
/galbak galub simʧ-;-a/
N Your (Be) N NP
Yours is the heart of a fish.
(Uttered by a male to his male-friend when he sees the latter helping a third male-friend who had quarrelled with him the previous day.)
ļ ŇŠŠŚ ŪőŠŪݘ-;-. źŠ»ݘ-;- √»Ū÷
/galbiʧ-;- Ɂ-;-abiyaḍ-;--;- Ɂ-;-allah yixalliiʧ-;-/
Your N (Be) N-;- Allah V You
Yours is a white heart-;- Allah may preserve you.
(Uttered by a female friend to her female friend when the latter praises a third female friend who is used to picking quarrels with her.)
‘ŘŠ „«Š √”ōŚ ļ ŕ«‘ ŇŪŌŖ.
/ʃ-;-uλ-;-ul mal usṭ-;-a-;- ʕ-;-aaʃ-;-at iidak/
NP PP -;- V N Your N
A work of a master-;- long live your hand.
(Uttered by a male-commissioner to a wood-worker on seeing his finished new kitchen-table.)
Ő» Ś« ŕŌŠ ° ś –»Õ Ś« ŕŠž «Šř»Š….
/ʤ-;-ibitha ʕ-;-adil, wiծ-;-baḥ-;-itha ʕ-;-alqiblah/
V You ADJ and V you PP
Youíve put it (the problem) straight and slaughtered it on the altar.
(Uttered by a male-friend to his Sheikh male-friend after the latter successfully solves a tribal feud on agreeably amicable terms.)
. √š ”Ū»śŪŚ
You are a Sibawaihi.
You (Be) NP
(Uttered by a female college student to her male-colleague when the letter successfully shows her how to parse a thorny verse-line.)
ŕ«‘ –śřŖ ŕŠž Ś«Ū «Š√š«ř….
/ʕ-;-aaʃ-;- ծ-;-ooqak ʕ-;-ala haai il Ɂ-;-anaaqa/
V NP Your PP
Long live your taste for this elegance.
(Uttered by a male to his male-colleague after he enters their office and sits down at his table.
»Ū Ŗ„ řŠŕ….
N Your (Be) NP
Your house is a fortress.
(Uttered by a male to his male-friend as they stand in front of the latterís house.)
»Ū Ŗ„ Ū—Ō «Š—śÕ .«ŠŠŚ ’ŠŪ ŕŠž „Õ„Ō ś ¬Š „Õ„Ō.
/beetkum yiridd irruuḥ-;-. Ɂ-;-allahuma ṣ-;-alli ʕ-;-ala moḥ-;-ammed wa Ɂ-;-aali mohammed/
N Your V NP. Allah (Be) N PP and NP
Your house makes the soul come back. May Allah pray upon Muhammad and Muhammadís Household.
(Uttered by a female to her female neighbor as the latter shows her around her new house.
”Ū«— Ŗ Õ›….
N Your (Be) NP
Your car is an artifact.
(Uttered by a male to his male-friend as he sees the latterís car.)
Compliment (1) is singularly innovative, uttered by the teenager orange seller in a spell-like fashion. Immediately, the complimentee asked me Ė being their group-interpreter Ė what the boy was saying to her, and when I translated the literal meaning of the compliment to her, she smiled widely, and lightly kissed him on the cheek as a token of her appreciation. On that, the boy immediately presented her and me with the largest of his oranges, and refused to accept payment in return. The source domain (Lakoff and Johnsen, 2003: 252) of the first two of his metaphors, realized by NPs, is related to oranges: his valued means of living and cherishing. The orange-peeling process is used in the utterance as the quintessence of female-beauty (target domain, ibid.) crystallization perfected by Allah, the greatest of creators, in the making of his complimenteeís complexion. His third metaphor relates the target domain of the complimenteeís beauty to the source domain of religious sacredness in accordance to the Islamic creed, which stresses the serene physical perfection of all prophets, especially Joseph and Muhammad. Relating beauty to God is one deeply-entrenched belief in monotheism. In Islam, the NP: ďThe BeautifulĒ is one of the hundred ďGood Names = «Š√”„«Ń «ŠÕ”šžĒ of Allah. The collective belief in the popular saying, ď Ňš «ŠŠŚ Ő„ŪŠ ° ŪÕ» «ŠŐ„«Š = Indeed. Allah is beautiful, He loves beautyĒ obtains in this examples, as well as in many other examples complimenting beauty.
The source domain of the metaphor in (2) is also religious, realized by the NP ďangelĒ to indicate beauty. Allahís protection is invoked twice in this utterance in order to stress the speakerís acting in good-faith with the hearer, and, consequently, the absence of any ď harmful eye of envyĒ in the speech act. This is because all the speech acts of complimenting are generally believed by Iraqi people to be a potential source of harm-infliction upon the complimentees, which can only be wiped out by the utterance of some proper religious invocation, such as ďGrace be to the CreatorĒ and ďMay Allah protect NPĒ. Thus, such a dominant superstition sometimes requires the compliment utterance to have two adjacent illocutionary forces: complimenting plus invocating. If something bad Ė e.g. an accidentī-or-some illness Ė happens to the complimenteeī-or-his belongings immediately after the compliment, then that harm is almost always ascribed to ďthe eye of envyĒ.
Compliment (3) is similar to (2) in invocating the protection of both: Allah, and Prophet Muhammadís Next of Kin (¬Š «Š»Ū ) who are greatly revered by all Muslims as a source of good intercession ď«Š‘›«ŕ…Ē on behalf of the believers. The source domain of the metaphor is also a religious NP (The beauty of the Prophet: Joseph, likened to the sonís beauty). In addition, it expressly spells out the inherent social concern about the ďharmful eyeĒ: ďŠ« ōŠŕŪ »—ÝŚ ° √ő«› ŪšÕ”Ō = Do not take him out of the house, Iím afraid he might be enviedĒ.
The source domain of the two metaphors found in (4) relates the target male-babyís beauty to the two NPs of the ďmoonĒ and ďlighting bulbĒ. It has also an adjacent religious invocation: ď»”„ «ŠŠŚ «Š—Õ„š «Š—ÕŪ„ = In the name of Allah, the merciful, the mercy-giverĒ, as well as a well-wishing clause: ď «ŠŠŚ Ū›—ÝŲÕݘ-;- »ŪŚ = May Allah impart happiness to you with himĒ-;- i.e. a kind of collect. These two clauses reflect the impact of culture-specific beliefs upon the linguistic realization of compliments in Iraqi Arabic. These beliefs render the adjacent religious invocation of Godís protection the preferred and more proper mode of complimenting.
In (5), there are two source domains for the metaphorical expression of the target female-babyís beauty: ďsilverĒ, and ďAyaĒ. The latter N refers to a singular Quríanic verse, religiously deemed to be the ultimate textual proof of sacred miraculous beauty. The N of ďSilverĒ conveys the concept of serene white-skin, highly appreciated in Iraq as a token of beauty in females and males alike. Again, there is an adjacent protective invocation: ď”»Õ«š „š ’śÝ— = Grace be to the Molder-;- i.e. AllahĒ against evil eye.
The four exponents of complimenting female-beauty in (6) have their source domains in flora - the NPs: (Őš»–… = budding red rose, „řŌÝŲÕŚ = blossoming) in (a) and (c)-;- in bringing about mental disorder - the VP: ( ő»ÝŲŠŪš = cause to become mad) in (b) -;- and in producing the best image at the wedding ceremony - the NP: (ŕ—ś” = bride) in (d). Though conventional, they are quite popular and widely used.
It is significant to mention here that both the complimentors and the complimentees of these utterances were females. In other words, they are sex-based (Herbert, 1990). These same expressions might be uttered by adult males to adult females, provided that the prevailing situational dimensions (e.g. age, marital status, kinship relations, mutual relations, participants, subject of the speech-event, etc.) totally rule out their being mistakenly taken by the complimentee as a mode of ďcourtshipĒ (Řů“ůŠ) rather than complimenting. Otherwise, such utterances can be face-threatening - at least to the complimentee - since their explicitness involves going ĎĎbald on recordíí (Brown and Levinson, 1987). Consequently, such an explicitness renders the speech act of complimenting the looks of adult females to be highly sensitive to gender, age, marital status, mutual relations, participants, and community. In almost all cases, whenever the male complimentor is ďlegible to marriageī-or-female-seductionĒ, then such a compliment would not only be face threatening to both him and the complimentee, but can be an ďhonour-threateningĒ act that can well cause the severing of their mutual talking-relations,ī-or-even consequential reprisal. In Iraq, a young adult male should never compliment the looks of a young female unless his good faith is socially taken for granted, since such an act presupposes ďhonour-impairingĒ courtship, even if the complimentee is married. The underlying common social belief at play in this connection is that a woman is ď Õű—ķ„ů… = a tabooĒ. For example, an unmarried male may not normally compliment the looks of a young wife of some other man, whether she were alone,ī-or-in front of her husband, even if they all belong to urban, civilized community. In the countryside, such a compliment could bring about an immediate backlash against the complimentor by the complimentee herself,ī-or-whoever present of her relatives. However, if this male complimentor is a married man, and his wife is present at the speech event, he may do so in an urban community, though he might get Ďreprimandedí by his wife when they return home for revealing ďhis stigmatic habit of: Ď Ū»’»’ ŕŠž «Šš”ś«š = peeping at womenĒí if she were a jealous wife. Even if good faith does hold between all the participants in this speech event, it is not unusual for the husband of the complimenteeís wife to feel uneasy, and lament the complimentorís improper speech when he is back alone with his wife. However, if the same compliment is uttered by an old male relative of the young wifeī-or-of her husband,ī-or-by the husband himself, then it is quite pleasing. In these cases, the poison turns into remedy. The same is true when the complimentor is a teenager relative. In case the complimentee is an old woman in her sixtiesī-or-more, then every compliment goes provided that she belong to an urban, civilized community, but not in the country-side, where good faith is not taken for granted in this case.
In (7), the source domain of the NP metaphor is that of culture-specific type of food: (źŪ„— «Š”ŌÝ… = the cream of al-Sadda). This is a special brand of highly valued Iraqi delicacy consisting of white cream-lumps skimmed from the boiling milk of buffaloes that are fed on special grass fodder grown around the town of al-Sadda (65 kilometers south of Baghdad). The expensive, luscious, and dense cream lumps are richly white, with semi goose-pimple skins. In this instance, the target domain is the beauty of the daughterís cheeks. The clause: ď›ŌśŚ ŠőŌśŌݘ-;- = (I am) the sacrifice for your cheeksĒ is highly symbolical here in that it does not literally mean what it says-;- rather, it serves as an expression of endearing admiration. Again, the compliment is supplemented with an adjacent evil-eye-dismissal clause: ď”»Õ«š «Šř«Ō— = Grace be to the MightyĒ.
The compliment in (8) involves the use of another culture-specific innovative metaphor expressed by the NP: (ŌůŚÝ«‘… = green amulet that serves to throw off evil eye). This is a clay amulet, totally glazed in green colour. Its outer zigzag rim engulfs a circumference of seven hollow circular ďeyesĒ evenly distributed around a solid green centre. An amulet of this type is usually hung on the outer wall of the guest room,ī-or-somewhere near it, as a protection against the potential evil eye of house-seers. In this particular case, such a type of green amulet is used as the source domain for describing the target beauty of the complimenteeís green eyes.
In (9), there is another innovative metaphor expressed by the NP: ď„ „ŕšŪ = masteringĒ. The meaning of this derivative noun is an amalgam of deliberate ďhard workĒ, ďcareĒ, and ďperfect finishingĒ. The entailment here is that: ďBecause Allah loves this particular boy of yours, He has perfected the making of his beautyĒ. This is followed by a recitation of a Quríanic verse line (Aya) popularly valued in dismissing ďevil eyeĒ.
Religious culture is also the source domain for the NP metaphor in compliment (10): ď ōŪ— „š ōŪś— «ŠŐš… = a bird from the birds of ParadiseĒ to designate the child-boyís beauty. Typically, it is followed by the largely symbolic -dir-ective clause: ďŌűź ŕŠž «Šő‘» = Nock at the woodĒ as another popular cultural means of dismissing ďevil-eyeĒ.
The metaphor in (11) is similar to that of (4) and (8) in that its source domain for evaluating the babyís beauty is a certain ďshining objectĒ-;- a candle (‘„ŕ…) in this case, preceded by the invocation of Allah: ďŪ« «ŠŠŚĒ. In contrast, the source domain of the NP metaphor in (12) is religious: Allah, the Molder («Š„’śÝŲ—).
Skillful performance is complimented upon with the NP: ďŐšŲÝŪÝůŚ = female GeniĒ by the speaker in (13), borrowed from both Arab Preislamic and Islamic folklore. According to the folk-tales, Genies are fairy-creatures imagined to be capable of performing fantastic deeds that the human beings are incapable of.
Like (1 and 7), the source domain of the complimenting metaphor in (14) is one cherished food-item: the NP ďalmonds = Šś“Ē to indicate the complimenteeís answers to the test items were to the point.
All the five instances in (15) compliment admirable speech by likening it to NPs denoting either precious metals and stones (a, b, e), rose (c),ī-or-honey (d). All of these are stock metaphors, though extremely popular.
In (16) and (17), the admirable speech complimented upon is likened through a VP to the act of making the chest happy ďŪ‘—Õ «Š’Ō—Ē (16),ī-or-icy ďŪňŠŐ «Š’Ō—Ē (17). The chest in both cases is considered in the folklore to be the seat of gleeful feelings. Another similar folkloric seat is the heart ď «ŠźŠ»Ē , as in (18).
Similar compliment for good speech is realized in (19) by using the source domain of the NP: ďš»ŕ ’«›Ū = a pure fountainĒ to indicate purity and freshness.
In (20), the NP: ď»ōŠ = hero, championĒ is used to compliment the boyís feat of swimming across the Lower Zap river, whose middle valley is a dangerously speedy torrent running over a bed of big, slimy rocks. The complimentee was only ten years old at that time.
Traditionally, one very popular strategy of complimenting the addressesí ability and performance is to liken the complimentee to a lion: ď ”»ŕĒ, as is the case in (21). In all such cases, the latter NP stands for: ďgood workĒī-or-ďvery ableĒ, not only ďbraveryĒ and ďĒhard fightĒ.
A less popular, though similar strategy, is the use of the NP: ď–Ū» √„ŕō = furless wolfĒ to compliment good work, as in (22). This NP stresses two attributes: ability and wisdom. The source domain here is borrowed from the biological phenomena that the wolf sheds off most of its fur when growing old, though its ability as a predator becomes more successful.
Complimenting wisdom is realized in (23) via metonymy: ď »ůŠůŌ= a countryĒ, meaning the whole community of a country. When oneís brains is likened to the collective cognitive force of a whole community, then the part turns into the whole. As in many other compliments cited, exaggeration is inherent in the illocutionary force to stress sincerity and the intent to please.
Metonymy is also used in (24), (25), and (26) through the NPs: ď„ś”śŕ… = encyclopediaĒ, ď ř«„ś” = dictionaryĒ, and ď«ŠÕ«”ś» = computerĒ to compliment wide-learning faculty. Again, exaggeration is inherent here.
The metaphor in (27) is quite interesting in that it likens swift performance to ď ›Š›Š = pepperĒ, known to attest its ďhotĒ taste immediately upon touching the tongue. The researcher has noticed that this particular metaphor is more popular among females, than males-;- and tends to be more especially used to complimenting swift ďhouse-workĒ rather than some other work. In other words, this metaphor has undergone the semantic process of specialization.
In (28), the NP metaphor of: ďŐ«ŖŪ = jokeyĒ is register-specific, used only among professional drivers to indicate ďskillful driving of carsĒ. It is borrowed from English via transliteration. On the other hand, the Iraqi Arabic NP: ď ůźŲ›Ē denotes both excellent swift action and extraordinary care.
The metaphor in (29) is formulaic in that it likens the name of the complimentee to that of flag: ďŕůŠů„Ē to denote popularity and high social esteem. Again, it is followed by the well-wishing clause: ďŪś›řŖ «ŠŠŚ «Š»«—Ū = May Allah the Protector grant you good luckĒ.
Cooperation in innocence and good faith is complimented in (30) and (31) by likening the complimenteeís heart to that of a fish: ďźŠ» ”Ų„ķݘ-;-ŚĒ and white: ď√»ķŪů÷Ē. The use of the former NP is especially telling in indicating the complete absence of ill-will by the complimentee toward someone who has previously committed some offence against him. This is done with reference to the tendency of a fish to be re-hooked by the same hook that it has just narrowly escaped its danger, even after sustaining some injury from it. Though popular, it imparts an overtone of naivety and exaggeration. In (31), the metaphor of ďwhiteĒ is self-explanatory.
The NP metaphor: ď√ű”ķōŚĒ in (32) is indicative of excellent work performance, akin to that of a masterful practitioner of some handcraft who is in charge of a number of apprentices. The compliment is followed by the well-wishing clause: ďŕ«‘ ŇŪŌŖ = long live your handĒ, which is itself another compliment via metaphor. So in this example, we have two successive compliments.
In (33), the metaphors is realized through a VP: ď–»Õ Ś« ŕŠž «Šř»Š… = slaughtered it on the altarĒ. The source domain is religious, denoting the observance of the correct ritual in animal-slaughter. The meaning is that of ďcorrectly and swiftly bringing a permanent endĒ to some pending issue.
The source domain of (34) is the renowned medieval linguist: ď”Ū»śŪŚ = SibawaihiĒ, whose grammar book («ŠŖ «» : al-Kitab = The Book) is unanimously regarded to be the authority in Classical Arabic grammar.
Similar to (32), the compliment in (35) couples well-wishing to the object of compliment, ďŕ«‘ –śřŖ ŕŠž Ś«Ū «Š√š«ř… = Long live your taste for this eleganceĒ. The metaphor is realized through the VP: ďŕ«‘ –śřŖĒ.
The NP metaphor in (36) is a stock one, likening the complimenteeís house to a castle ďřŠŕ…Ē. Less traditional is the compliment in (37) which compares the complimentorís happiness in seeing the complimenteeís house to that of a dead soul coming back to life: ď»Ū Ŗ„ Ū—Ō «Š—śÕ = Your house makes the soul come backĒ. Exaggeration, though pleasing, is obvious here.
Another stock metaphor is offered in (38), which makes use of the source domain ď Õ›… = artifactĒ to compliment the target domain of the complimentees car.
1. All metaphorical compliments cited in this paper are explicit since they are recognizable outside of context ( Boyle, 2000: 18).
2. The source domains of all the examples in the data are culture-specific.
3. With respect to form, such compliments are primarily realized in Iraqi Arabic as NPs, and secondarily as VPs.
4. A few of the metaphors are innovative, the greater number is formulaic and ritualized. However, all are extremely valued.
5. Because of the dominance of the belief that all compliments are potentially belie a ďharmful eye of jealousyĒ, compliments tend to preferably co-occur with adjacent evil-eye-dismissing and well-wishing clauses. When the latter clause also serves the -function- of compliment, it doubles its illocutionary force.
6. Complimenting the looks of adult females by adult males is extremely sensitive to gender, age, mutual relations, participants, and marital status. Meticulous over-care should be observed to guarantee that it does not turn into an ďhonour-threatening actĒ.
7. Exaggeration is prevalent in order to stress both sincerity and the intention to please the complimentee.
8. The most recurrent source domain of metaphors in the data is the Islamic religious one. Flora and fauna sources come next.
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