Kevin Yu

A Corpus Analysis of Akkadian Metaphors

This project involves constructing an online database of metaphors in Akkadian, one of the main languages of ancient Mesopotamia. The work is part of my graduate student mentors thesis, which looks at distinctive literary features of Akkadian literature. We will both analyze the internal structure of these metaphors and their distribution within a corpus of cuneiform texts. The theoretical analysis of the metaphors will be based on George Lakoffs Conceptual Metaphor Theory, while the distributional analysis will use a data visualization program called Gephi. Our online database will be based on MetaNet, a project initiated by the UCB Department of Linguistics for understanding metaphors in English. Using an analysis template drawn from MetaNet, we will take Akkadian texts from Open Richly Annotated Cuneiform Corpus and identify the conceptual metaphors within them, noting such things as the source and target frames, hierarchical relationship with other metaphors, and whether the metaphor is experientially basic or not. Once this database is constructed, we will use Gephi to answer questions such as what metaphors co-occur in a text of a given type, what cultural domain the metaphors come from, and how metaphor usage relates to genre. Our goal for the summer will be to fill our database with metaphors drawn from several hundreds of Akkadian texts on Oracc, sufficient for a dataset that can be profitably interpreted using Gephi.

Message to Sponsor

I would like to thank the Johnson Fund for funding my project and giving me the opportunity to work on such a fascinating project over the summer. Working on this project has given me a new sense of confidence in my ability to collaborate with others and solve challenging problems. It has also given me a deeper appreciation for the process of conducting research. Now that I have completed this program, I feel more eager and empowered to apply the skills that I learned this summer to my own independent research in the future. Additionally, my experiences this summer have also sparked a deeper appreciation for the field of cognitive linguistics, and I hope to continue to expand my knowledge of this field throughout my academic career. The generosity and support of the Johnson Fund is what made all of this possible for me, and I will always be grateful to them for believing in and supporting undergraduate research.
  • Major: Linguistics
  • Sponsor: Johnson Fund
  • Mentor: Matthew Ong