LINGUIST List 13.895

Mon Apr 1 2002

Diss: Pragmatics: Yusuf "A Speech Act Study..."

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  1. yusufyk, Pragmatics: Yusuf "A Speech Act Study of English and Yoruba Proverbs"

Message 1: Pragmatics: Yusuf "A Speech Act Study of English and Yoruba Proverbs"

Date: Fri, 29 Mar 2002 08:03:13 +0000
From: yusufyk <>
Subject: Pragmatics: Yusuf "A Speech Act Study of English and Yoruba Proverbs"

New Dissertation Abstract

Institution: University of Lagos
Program: Department of English
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 1996

Author: Yisa Kehinde Yusuf 

Dissertation Title: 
A Speech Act Study of English and Yoruba Proverbs about Women

Linguistic Field: Pragmatics

Dissertation Director 1: Abiodun Adetugbo

Dissertation Abstract: 

This study examines the linguistic and rhetorical features of 109
English, especially Anglo-American, and 135 Southwestern Nigerian
Yoruba proverbs about women. It shows that alliteration occurs in all
the proverbs and is most significantly enhanced by lexical repetition,
while rhyming occurs in a few cases. It also reveals that comparison
or the establishment of an identificational or causative relationship
is next in preponderance. This is followed by contrast, and both are
sustained to a large extent by parallelism. Ellipsis also features as
a cohesive device.

 From the background of the linguistic and rhetorical analyses, the
study identifies the principal speech acts through which each of the
proverbs reflects, incites, consolidates or attempts to eliminate
misogyny. With a few exceptions, the English and Yoruba proverbs deal
with the same aspects of women's life and express similar or
corresponding, mutually-reinforcing, predominantly negative opinions
about women. This implies that an English-Yoruba bilingual would
normally have a higher facility for understanding or expressing
proverbial misogyny than an English or Yoruba monolingual. The work
thus contributes to knowledge in the area of sexism and

Furthermore, the study shows that the overwhelming misogyny expressed
in the proverbs correlates with the contemporary, equally demeaning,
prescription and enforcement of monogamy, the decline of marriage, the
spiritual denigration of women, wife-battering, rape, female genital
mutilation and the widespread preference for male children. The study
is therefore a specific cross-cultural validation of the moderate
version of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, and is expected to generate
increased sensitivity to and sympathy with the liberating efforts of
progressive women.

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