Zaluučuud cagaan zeer biš! Young people are not gazelles! Mongolian metaphorical expressions in protest language

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Dr. Tümen-Očiryn Erdene-Očir
Universität Bonn

Mittwoch, 06. Juli 2022, 12-14 Uhr

Metaphors play a decisive role in shaping public opinion. They call attention to social and political problems that may otherwise remain unregarded. The talk analyses metaphorical expressions that were used on demonstration posters and in slogans during the recent massive protests against inflation and government inaction held in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia in April 2022. During those youth-led protests, people used metaphorical expressions, which are not comprehensible via literal translations, such as ‘Čömög dundarlaa!’ (The bone marrow is about to be half-empty!), ‘churgan darga’ (lamb boss), ‘Ičich nüür taraaž bajna! Elegneesee chajna uu!’ ([We are] distributing faces of shame! Search it from your liver!), and many others.
Those metaphorical expressions are challenging for non-native speakers, because they require extensive cultural knowledge as well as background knowledge about Mongolian discourses. Many of these metaphorical expressions are derived from proverbs and idioms, which belong to the linguistic and cultural worldview of Mongolians, and are thus linked up to well-established discourse traditions.
Based on ethnolinguistic analysis, the research findings do not only reveal the implicit meanings of the metaphorical expressions used in the demonstrations but also offer an overview of how metaphorical expressions popularize and shape protestors’ understanding of Mongolia’s current socio-economic realities.

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