A LINGUISTIC STUDY OF IDIOMS AND PROVERBS IN SELECTED LITERARY WORKS OF ALIYU KAMAL

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A LINGUISTIC STUDY OF IDIOMS AND PROVERBS IN SELECTED LITERARY WORKS OF ALIYU KAMAL

 

ABSTRACT

 

Every language often reveals what the people who use it see, feel and think; what they can talk about, and how they organize the world around them. Idioms and Proverbs are linguistic elements that address the heart of a discourse in any given context-truthfully and objectively. In Africa, and especially in Nigerian cultures, Idioms and Proverbs are considered as the reliable horses, which convey meanings to their destinations or the hearts of listeners/readers. As such, their interpretation requires more than linguistic processing; it also demands the interplay of contexts from where they usually derive their meanings. This work,A Linguistic Study of the Idioms andProverbs in Selected Literary Works of Aliyu Kamal, therefore, contends that the meanings of Idioms and Proverbs, especially of Hausa origin, translated into English and used in texts could be worked out within the contextual theory of Firth (1957), which is both semantic and pragmatic in nature. Some characteristic features of Hausa Idioms, found to be common to that of the English Language, such as those of being collocational, non-compositional, elaborate in meaning and unchanging feature, etc. are highlighted in this study. Similarly, types of Proverbs which are analytical/philosophical, rhetorical as well as didactic in nature have been explored. From the point of view of the grammatical analysis carried out in this study, Idioms and Proverbs have varied syntactic structures ranging from phrases to simple sentences, complex sentences and compound forms. This study demonstrates that Idioms and Proverbs play significant roles in clarifying, exemplifying, underscoring and influencing human communication. With the broad analysis of the sixty Idioms and Proverbs at lexical, grammatical as well as the immediate and wider contexts, this work attempts to further illustrate the vitality of semantics in negotiating meaning especially in a second language context. The findings from the study reveal that Idioms and Proverbs serve as linguistic elements which would allow for the enhancement of Linguistic Universals. This is because the study has established that both the English and Hausa Idioms and Proverbs characteristically share certain common features. The study concludes also that interpreting Idioms and Proverbs demands background knowledge of the language from which they have been drawn.

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

CERTIFICATION ii

DEDICATION iii

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS iv

ABSTRACT vi

TABLE OF CONTENTS vi

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background to the Study 1

1.2 Statement of the Research Problem 6

1.3 Research Questions 8

1.4 Aim and Objectives of the Study 8

1.5 Significance of the Study 9

1.6 Scope and Delimitation of the Study 10

CHAPTER TWO: REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE

2.0 Introduction 12

2.1 Linguistics as a Field of Study 12

2.2 Levels of Linguistic Description 17

2.3 Semantics 20

2.4 Shades of Meaning 24

2.5 Semantics and Pragmatics Interface 28

2.5.1 Idioms and Proverbs: A Conceptual Review 34

2.5.2.1 Characteristics and Sources of Idioms 43

2.5.2.2 Types of Idioms 45

2.5.2.3 Uses of Idioms 47

2.5.3 A Review of Previous Studies on Idioms 48

2.5.3.1 Idiomatic Phrasal Verbs in Hausa and Its Features 49

2.5.3.2 Idiomatic Variants and Synonymous Idioms in English 50

2.5.4 Proverbs 52

2.5.4.1 Definitions of Proverbs 52

2.5.4.2 Characteristics of Proverbs 59

2.5.4.3 Types of Proverbs 61

2.5.4.4 Uses of Proverbs 62

2.5.5 A Review of Previous Studies on Proverbs 66

vii

2.5.6
The Semantics and Pragmatics of Nigerian Proverbs ………………………………………….
68
2.5.7
A Semantic/Pragmatic Analysis of Proverbs ……………………………………………………..
70
2.5.8
Some Recent Studies on Proverbs in African Ideas and Tradition ………………………..
72
2.6
Theories of Meaning: A Conceptual Review ………………………………………………………………..
77
2.6.1
The Componential Theory of Meaning ……………………………………………………………..
78
2.6.2
The Stimulus-Response Theory ……………………………………………………………………….
78
2.6.3
The Referential Theory …………………………………………………………………………………..
79
2.6.4
The Mentalist Theory ……………………………………………………………………………………..
80
2.6.5
The Gricean Program/Model ……………………………………………………………………………
80
2.6.6
The Contextual Theory……………………………………………………………………………………
81
2.6.7
The Truth Conditional Theory …………………………………………………………………………
82
2.7
Context and Its Roles in Meaning Construction ……………………………………………………………
82
2.8
Theoretical Framework ……………………………………………………………………………………………..
86
CHAPTER THREE: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

3.0 Introduction ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
89
3.1
Research Methodology ……………………………………………………………………………………………..
89
3.2
Method of Data Analysis …………………………………………………………………………………………..
91
CHAPTER FOUR: DATA PRESENTATION, ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION

4.0 Introduction ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
94
4.1
Presentation and Analysis of Data ………………………………………………………………………………
94
4.2
General Discussions ………………………………………………………………………………………………..
245
CHAPTER FIVE: SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS

5.0 Introduction ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………252
5.1 Summary ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….252
5.2 Major Findings ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….254
5.3 Conclusion ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 256

5.4 Suggestions for Further Studies ………………………………………………………………………………..258
References …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..259
APPENDIX …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
268

 

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