A PRAGMATIC ANALYSIS OF POLITENESS STRATEGIES IN SELECTED YORUBA PROVERBS

A PRAGMATIC ANALYSIS OF POLITENESS STRATEGIES IN SELECTED YORUBA PROVERBS

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ABSTRACT

This study is titled A Pragmatic Analysis of Politeness Strategies in Selected Yoruba Proverbs.The focus of the study is to analyse the elements of politeness in selected Yoruba proverbsusing Brown and Levinson's (1987) politeness strategies and Austin's (1962) Speech Act Theory. It explains how politeness strategies are used in language in general and proverbs in particular.The aim of this study is to examine the pragmatic politeness of selected Yoruba proverbs and their use.The proverbs analysed were collected from relevant texts written by Yoruba native speakers.Fifty proverbs were selected forthe analysis of this study. The proverbs was written and translated to the target language, which is English language. The types of translation employed in the data are literal and free translation.The researcher analysed the fifty (50) proverbs based on five themes each representing the situational use for the analysis. The themes are hard work/laziness, wisdom/foolishness,truth/untruth and decency/indecency.The proverbs analysed show how proverbs are important and how Yoruba make use of proverbs with politeness strategies in discourse. Proverbs should be used appropriately and correctly because it is important in Yoruba life. The findings show that Yoruba proverbs are used with bald on-record politeness strategy, positive politeness strategy, negative politeness strategy and off-record (indirect) politeness strategyso as to promote peace. The use of politeness strategies in Yoruba proverbs give people less chances of developing enemies and politeness eases tension along the rough road of life.They are important in conversations and proverb usage because politeness makes communication run smoothly. Proverbs cannot be stated bluntly, therefore, politeness strategies are employed so that the level of communication will not break down.The findings also show that in Pragmatics, face is one's public self-image which everyone tries to protect so as to avoid Face Threatening Act. Proverbs have been theoretically discussed byresearchers such as ethnographers, anthropologists, historians, philosophers and linguists but they are silent on the aspects ofpoliteness strategies. This study will therefore update their understanding in the use of politeness strategies in Yoruba proverbs.

 CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1    Background to the Study

Proverbsare used with politeness strategies to embellish conversation among people in different cultures and communities. Their relevance in the society is powerful because they facilitate communication.Proverbs contain wisesayings that offer advice in different situations using politeness strategies. They are often traditional, metaphorical and restate a philosophical reality of life. Fasikuas cited in Rumide (2013:138) observes that proverbs which are a reflection of total world view of a people, evolved with the growth and development of the society.Proverbs are wordsof wisdom that guide man’s footsteps in the complexity of life.According to Surakat (2000:138), proverbs appear in different ways. That is,a proverb can have varied or diverse meanings and perform different functions in different contexts. To Rumide (2013:137), ‘usage of proverbs is a universal phenomenon designed to achieve some goals that are related to societal cohesion'.They are usedin a discourse to pass weighty, hard hitting messages in a polite way rather than in a nasty manner.

Proverbs are meant in the main to teach and guide people in relating with others using politeness strategies. It is very important to be polite when using proverbs because effective communication via polite words has positive impact on people’s lives. Naturally, proverbs cannot be expressed in a blunt manner and so, one needs to be polite in the use of proverbs and politeness needs to be implemented in language use in general and proverbs in particular. According to Brown and Levinson (1987:66), people use politeness strategies to help preserve one another's face needs so as to avoid face threatening act. The 'face' is an expression shown on one's public self-image. It is the public self-image that everyone tries to protect. Brown and Levinson (1987) sum up human politeness strategies in four (4) ways which are: Bald on-record which uses direct language, Positive politeness strategy which is somewhat direct, Negative politeness strategy which is somewhat indirect and last but not least Off-record (indirect) strategy which uses indirect language.

These politeness strategies are used in proverbs in a way that will give someone a sense of belonging. When proverbs are used in any interaction, it is always best to apply politeness strategies so that offences, disagreements, unfriendliness will be less likely. The hearts of many people can be won through politeness. The path to a successful life comes through the stairs of politeness. An act of politeness can do wonders for somebody that no monetary thing can do. Politeness is one of the important characters of a civilised person. It can help avoid unproductive arguments, disagreements that may damage

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personal relationships.Politenessstrategies are relevant to this study because they are used in Yoruba proverbs to avoid swear words which could be shocking or rude. This work, therefore, seeks to examine the presence of politeness strategies in selected Yoruba proverbs and how these strategies are manifested.

1.2    Statement of the Research Problem

According to Delano (1983:ix), it is importantto make use of proverbs in Yoruba discourse. Appropriate and correct usage of proverbs is important in Yoruba life. This is because proverbs embellish or give more weight to utterances.Proverbs occur in everyday conversation               and          so                         they   should        be           used correctly                and    appropriately    to avoidcommunication misunderstanding. Proverbs are used differently in different contexts.It is unfortunate that some of the Yoruba native speakers especially the young (in the18-30 age range) misuse proverbs because of their inability to relate them to contexts.Some of their proverbs lack originality because they change the proverbs to suit the contemporary time. The cause of this problem is modern civilization.Some Yoruba proverbs have withered away at the exposure of modernization and so, the younger generation know little or nothing about proverbs.

Some of the youths don’t understand proverbs because they don’t use Yoruba language for communication; some are bilingual in English language and Yoruba language, as a result, they gradually shift allegiance to English language and they cease to use their original language. Also, politeness strategies, which are needed in interaction in general and proverbs in particular, are either misused or not used at all. This is caused either by virtue of inexperience or negative influence of Western education.In addition, much of the works done on Yoruba proverbs studies have been mostly on pragmatic analysis of Yoruba proverbs. Proverbs have been theoretically analysed by reputable studies including                            perspectives             from                      ethnographers,   anthropologists,                     historians, philosophers,sociologists, psychologists and linguists like (Lawal, 1997; Bamgbose, 1981; Delano, 1983; Olatunji, 2005; Osoba, 2014) and othershave discussed proverbs as a key to good communication because proverbs add flavour to any conversation.

They are silent on theuse of politeness strategies in Yoruba proverbs.It is in response to this challenge that this research attempts to investigate the politeness strategies in selected Yoruba proverbs. This study will h


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