Figurative Language in Michif
The present study is a qualitative analysis of figurative language in Michif. Michif is an endangered and understudied Indigenous language of the Métis/Michif people, now found mainly in the Canadian prairie provinces and the state of North Dakota. It is a contact language two primary source languages: Plains Cree and Michif French. Much of the research on Michif continues to increase, much of it focuses on the areas of phonology, syntax, and morphology, leaving a knowledge gap regarding semantics and pragmatics. The purpose of this study is to address that knowledge gap by providing an overview of figurative language in Michif, including conceptual metaphors, similes, and metonymical expressions. The major research question is: What kind of figurative (i.e., non-literal) expressions exist in Michif, and how are they formulated? The results of the study are divided into broad categories such as animal similes, conceptual metaphors based on body-internal and body-external experiences, and expressions whose figurativeness relies on manipulating the grammatical animacy of nouns or verbs. A secondary aim of the study is to identify whether certain expressions may have been inherited from Plains Cree or Michif French, or whether they may be novel Michif expressions; while a great deal of figurative language in Michif appears to have been influenced by its ancestral languages, there exist both lexical and semantic differences between Michif and its sources languages with respect to certain figurative expressions. This study provides a starting point for future research into semantics in Michif.
Michif, metaphor, conceptual metaphor theory, figurative language, contact languages, mixed languages
Master of Arts (M.A.)