Mental Representation and Interpretation of HIV as A Death Sentence in Ekegusii HIV and AIDS Metaphor
Nyakoe, Damaris Gechemba
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HIV is one of the challenges confronting the human race and Kenyans are not an exception to this fact. EkeGusii is a Bantu language spoken by approximately two million speakers in Western Kenya. HIV is both a medical and social problem. Speech communities have invented ways of communicating about the scourge, for instance they use metaphor. EkeGusii speakers form varied cognitive models over HIV and AIDS metaphor such that whenever someone mentions about HIV, some mental representation or image(s) springs onto the mind of the speaker. These cognitive models dictate how speakers perceive HIV and AIDS and their reaction to the seropositives. This research was carried out by interviewing 40 EkeGusii speakers who answered the question what comes to their mind when one talks about HIV and AIDS. This article discusses how HIV is mentally represented and interpreted as a death sentence by EkeGusii speakers. It further highlights the death-related images created out of HIV and AIDS metaphor and their accompanying sensory motor abilities that dictate the behaviour of individuals. This article reveals that the killer cognitive model spreads fear and fuels stigmatization among EkeGusii speakers. Consequently, EkeGusii speakers perceive HIV infection and contracting HIV and AIDS as a death sentence.
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