Fire, Poison, and Black Tears : Metaphors of Emotion in Rebétiko

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)

Abstract

This dissertation is a study of metaphors of emotion in rebétiko song texts. Rebétiko is a major popular-music style of modern Greece, consisting mostly of melancholic songs full of sorrow, disappointment, and misfortune, as well as passion and romance, but also of cheerful songs of revelry and a carefree attitude to life. Rebétiko as a music style developed in the Greek-speaking world and its diaspora in the early twentieth century. It consists of many interrelated music styles and subcategories. Its roots can be traced to mainland Greece, Asia Minor, and the Greek islands, but the musical form has been broadly influenced by many different cultures and other musical traditions.
In this study particular attention is devoted to the interpretation of certain frequently recurring words and phrases as literal or as metaphorical. Metaphors of emotion in rebétiko are examined in the light of the theories of conceptual metaphor developed by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson from 1980 onwards and subsequently elaborated in respect of emotion metaphors by Zóltan Kövecses. In the theories of Kövecses, emotions are perceived as forces. This dissertation tests the applicability of these theories to metaphors of emotion commonly encountered in Greek, and specifically in rebétiko. The dissertation aspires to contribute to knowledge of the language of rebétiko by detailed documentation and analysis of one relatively small but important aspect, the metaphor of emotion.
The analysis examines whether the various metaphors encountered are conventional or creative, and universal or culture-specific. The lyrics of rebétiko should be suitable texts for this purpose, given the enduring popularity and increasing pervasiveness of the genre among successive generations of Greek-speakers, which suggests that it expresses what might be termed ‘the Greek spirit and Greek mentality’ to a significant extent.
The approach to metaphor taken in this dissertation is text-based, inasmuch as it deals with the analysis of metaphor in a body of authentic texts. Words and phrases are collected from multiple contexts, in order to observe their typical behaviour. The corpus of approximately 1350 rebétiko song texts analysed in this dissertation was compiled specifically for this purpose from sources representing various time periods and thematic subcategories.
The basic thesis advanced and documented here is that the lyrics of rebétiko songs are highly metaphorical and that the character of their metaphors is very emotional. Also that metaphors of emotion are of crucial significance to the poetry of the emotionally charged genre which is rebétiko.

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Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Languages and Literature

Keywords

  • rebétiko, Greek music, song texts, lyrics, metaphor, metaphorical expressions, figurative language, conceptual metaphor, emotion concepts, force metaphors, Lakoff and Johnson, Kövecses
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
Award date2012 Sep 29
Publisher
  • Centre for Languages and Literature, Lund University
Print ISBNs978-91-7473-363-1
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 2012-09-29 Time: 10:15 Place: Hörsalen, Palaestra, Paradisgatan 4, Lund External reviewer(s) Name: Holton, David Title: Professor Affiliation: University of Cambridge --- The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Centre for Languages and Literature (015016000), Greek (015004007)

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