A Socio-pragmatic Study of Ohafia Proverbs

Abstract

This Dissertation titled “A Socio-pragmatic study of Ohafia Proverbs” was embarked upon by the researcher with the aim of drawing the attention of the Ohafia dialect speakers, proverb users, linguists, and the world to the dynamics, as well as the peculiarities associated with the use of Ohafia proverbs. This is done by pointing out the necessity of interpreting Ohafia proverbs within the confines of the cultural contexts in which they are used. This research answered questions on the relationship between the proverbs and the worldview of the people, the reason for the preference of the use of proverbs, instead of literal sentences in conversational situations, the role of context of culture and situation in the understanding and interpretation of Ohafia proverbs, and the place of social demography in the use of proverbs. In the course of reviewing related literature, it was observed by the researcher that although a number of works have been done on proverbs, and more specifically, on Igbo proverbs, little or nothing had been done on Ohafia proverbs, especially when placed side by side with the Ohafia society. The researcher, therefore, studied Ohafia proverbs, using Leech‟s Socio-pragmatic theory and Sapir-Whorf’s linguistic relativity hypothesis as models, side by side with a look into the elements of background cultural knowledge, and the possible contexts of culture and situation contained in the proverbs. For easy assessment and analysis, these proverbs were arranged in a tabular form and categorized into two: opaque and transparent. After the tabular analysis, a general discussion followed, where the researcher evaluated the authenticity of the linguistic relativism hypothesis by finding possible relationships between the world view of the Ohafia people and their proverbs, and use of proverbs. In this process, the place of the Ohafia cultures, climate/weather, food, ways of dressing, social hierarchy, age, gender, relationships and beliefs, in the understanding and use of Ohafia proverbs were ascertained. It was, therefore found that among other things, the proverbs of Ohafia people cannot be used without background knowledge of their worldview. Also, the predominant preoccupations of Ohafia people (warring or serving as mercenaries, and hunting/farming) are very much reflected in their proverbs. By getting educated on Ohafia proverbs and their peculiarities, a person becomes familiar with the philosophies, traditions, culture and overall worldview of the Ohafia people.