The Grammar of Well-Being

Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald
2021 Cadernos de Linguística  
Ways of talking about diseases, ailments, convalescence, and well-being vary from language to language. In some, an ailment 'hits' or 'gets' the person; in others, the sufferer 'catches' an ailment, comes to be a 'container' for it, or is presented as a 'fighter' or a 'battleground'. In languages with obligatory expression of information source, the onslaught of disease is treated as 'unseen', just like any kind of internal feeling or shamanic activity. Different stages of disease — covering
more » ... onset, progression, wearing off, recovery, and cure — form 'the trajectory of well-being'. Our main focus is on grammatical means employed in talking about various phases of disease and well-being, and how these correlate with perception and conceptualization of disease and its progression and demise. I offer a brief taxonomy of grammatical schemas and means employed across the languages of the world. I then turn to a study of terminologies and grammatical schemas employed in the trajectory of well-being in Tariana, an Arawak language from north-west Amazonia (Brazil), with special focus on cultural and cognitive motivations. The emergence and spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has affected ways of speaking about this disease among the Tariana, especially with regard to the origins and the onset of this affliction.
doi:10.25189/2675-4916.2021.v2.n1.id322 fatcat:cs6y6xpea5bkzedj7it6fkkgni