A comparative study of selected Namibian autobiographies through a cognitive stylistics approach

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Namibia University of Science and Technology


Through a cognitive stylistics lens and with a focus on the image schema theory, this qualitative desktop study aims to compare and contrast the linguistic expressions used to narrate exile experience of older women who went in exile to those of young women who were born and/or reared in exile. The linguistic expressions studied in the study were obtained using a narrative approach, in which a content analysis checklist was used to collect data from four selected autobiographies, namely Taming my Elephant by Tshiwa Troudie Amulungu, South West Africa to Namibia: My Personal Struggle by FousyShinana-Kambombo, Valentina: The Exile Child by Valentina Nghiwete, and Child No. 95: My German-African Odyssey by Lucia Engombe. The autobiographies were analysed by first comparing how basic image schema can be used as cognitive tools in conceptualising exile experiences; secondly, analysing how different image schemas, namely SOURCE-PATH-GOAL, BALANCE, CONTAINER, and LINK, can be used to understand abstract linguistic extensions and meaning; and finally, investigating the impact of exile experiences on second generation exiles in a post-independent Namibia through a cognitive lens. The majority of linguistic terms employed in autobiographical narrations were found to be based on the four image schema at either the concrete or abstract levels, according to the study.The study also found that all autobiographies used figurative languages that were based on the various image schemas used in the study. More in-depth research in applied linguistics is necessary in order to appreciate the complexities that the exile women faced while in exile and how these experiences influenced their lives in post-independence Namibia. The study concludes that the embodied image schema offers a fundamental conceptual structure of experiences and the basis of a person's story schema is his or her own embodied actions. It furthers concludes that image schemas can be utilised to grasp both physical structures and abstract extensions of linguistic utterances allowing for the comprehension of both literal and figurative languages. The study recommends that further studies on the role of image schematic structure in deducing and conceptualising the meaning of abstract and figurative reasoning in literal language in Namibian context needs to be done.


Thesis is presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of English and Applied Linguistics at the Namibia University Of Science and Technology


Namibia, cognitive stylistics, image schema theory, exile experience, narrative approach, autobiographies


Emvula, K. (2022). A comparative study of selected Namibian autobiographies through a cognitive stylistics approach [Master's thesis: Namibia University of Science and Technology].