A Contrastive Analysis of English and Albanian Somatic Idioms - A Cognitive Perspective

Arben Gaba
“Eqrem Ҫabej” University, Faculty of Education and Social Sciences, Department of Foreign Languages, English Branch


In this paper we try to make a cognitive comparison between phraseological units originating from body-part terms in English and Albanian (taking English as our starting point). Although these languages are distant in space they do have similarities. This similarity / difference is seen better than nowhere else in the way how they conceive of the world (and the way this is expressed linguistically). They are in different stages of their linguistic cultivation where English is in a dominant position (remember here that every technological innovation has knock-on linguistic effects that affect every language including Albanian) and Albanian is in a defensive position since it has to cope with a host of concepts and realities that in one way or another have to be made tangible to Albanian speakers as well. Phraseological units are conceived as the tip of the iceberg of a process grounded upon transformational mechanisms (the best known of which are metaphors and metonymy) with emotional coloring as its essential ingredient. By way of illustration we give the following example: “get blood from/out of a stone - nxjerr dhjamё nga pleshti, nxjerr ujё nga guri (extract fat out of a flea, extract water from the stone) Albanian literal translation in italics and brackets. From what we see, Albanians associate the equivalent of the English phraseological unit with water (since they are a Mediterranean country with dry summers), or with fat and flea (Albanians are known for their animal husbandry and meat-related terms)”.