A PRAGMATIC ANALYSIS OF SELECTED YORUBA EUPHEMISMS

A PRAGMATIC ANALYSIS OF SELECTED YORUBA EUPHEMISMS

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ABSTRACT

This research preoccupies itself mainly with the pragmatic analysis of the use of euphemisms in Yoruba language. It sets out to examine euphemisms as used by Yoruba speakers and to analyse the dynamics that govern their use by identifying the direct and indirect acts performed by Yoruba speakers in the selected euphemisms and to investigate the extent to which Politeness Maxims are adhered to in the selected euphemisms. Eighty seven euphemisms were used for analysis: thirty seven were gathered from the responses given on the word and sentence compilation task administered, while fifty others were gathered from conversations in recorded interviews and a Yoruba programme on African Independent Television, titled „Minijojo‟. The data is gathered through the use of a triangulation method which is a multiple method of gathering data via; observation, semi- structured interview and word and sentence compilation task. The work employs an eclectic theoretical framework by drawing insights from the Speech Acts theory proposed by Austin (1962) and Searle (1976); and the Politeness Principle as put forward by Brown and Levinson (1978&1987), which is based on the specification of the Politeness Maxims outlined by Leech (1993): Tact, Generosity, Approbation, Modesty, Agreement and Sympathy Maxims. The findings reveal that a large number of Yoruba speakers, who belong to the younger age group of 20-35 have little or no understanding at all of the use of euphemisms in Yoruba language, thus, they do not use them in conversations. The study also reveals that the data analysed in the study are used to perform assertive acts, directly and expressive acts indirectly as they help in projecting the speaker‟s intention in the use of the euphemisms during conversations. Tact maxim, approbation maxim followed by the sympathy maxim, appears to be more powerful in the use of euphemisms by Yoruba speaker than others. This reflects the fact that in the use of euphemisms politeness is given so much credence as speakers strongly focus on pleasing others than self. Moreover, it is found that the negative euphemism is significantly used in Yoruba, because most of the euphemisms presented in the analysis used by the speakers were used as a means to avoid one taboo or the other. This in turn relates to the general law of politeness, of which the negative politeness (avoidance of discord) is of more weighty consideration than positive politeness (seeking concord).

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