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Metaphor and disability: a critical analysis of the inequalities in kuria metaphorical reference to physical disability

Author: 
Dr. Boke Wambura
Subject Area: 
Life Sciences
Abstract: 

This paper seeks to examine metaphorical references of disability in Kuria language, spoken in Kenya. Particularly to explore how language usage in relation to disability creates hierarchies in the society by positioning the disabled below the ‘normal’ non-disabled language users. The paper will make use of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) as its theoretical framework. Critical discourse analysis (CDA) is a form of analysis that seeks to explain how unequal power relationships can be established, reproduced and maintained in social and political contexts. It also clarifies elements of the marginalisation, exclusion and domination of some people by others through ideological processes, and the effect this can have on social relationships. CDA uncovers visible as well as hidden inequalities in social relationships by examining ways in which language works in specific discourses to perpetuate these inequalities. The paper makes use of primary data in form of metaphors and reference words. These were collected ethnographically through day to day interaction with the disabled and their families. Six families with members who are categorised as physically challenged were involved in the study. Interviewing and note taking were used as data collection instruments. Data was analysed thematically basing on CDA principles. The findings revealed that both male and female disabled persons are labelled negatively and referred to using demeaning metaphors. Physically challenged people are placed lowly as opposed to those who are viewed to be normal people in Kuria. The paper suggests that this view be challenged and demystified and disabled people be placed on the same lane as ‘normal’ ones. It further suggests that ways of challenging such discursive inequalities and ultimately realising a just and equitable society be sought for. This paper will be of importance to physical education teachers, human rights activists and organisations dealing with the physically challenged members of the society

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