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AN ETHNOGRAPHIC INVESTIGATION OF CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE’S HALF OF A YELLOW SUN



ODERINDE ADEDAYO OBAFEMI on 06/01/2017

Every speech community is unique in its communication pattern since people create and establish their own speaking codes and norms. These speaking codes and norms are meant to convey their cultural inclinations. Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun has been subjected to various scholarly investigations mainly at the literary level while the linguistic aspect of the novel in relation to the speaking codes that exist in the culture that produce the characters appear not to have enjoyed much scholarly attention. This paper therefore aims at examining some of the linguistic behaviours of some of the characters in the novel with the aim of investigating how the concept of speech as a culturally defined practice is made evident in the characters’ language use. Data for this study are excerpts of conversational interactions between the characters in the novel. These excerpts are randomly selected from the various chapters of the novel and arranged into speech events. Each speech event is then examined in the context of the norms of the culture or society in which the characters live. This is done within the framework of ethnography of SPEAKING by Dell Hymes which focuses on how factors like setting, speaker, purpose, topic, mood, channels, norms and genre structure interactions.Our investigation reveals that language is used to maintain social order and also that speeches in any context have intrinsic rules of interaction which are usually observed by the speakers. In instances where there are deviations from these rules, other social factors such as intimacy and individual ideology have been identified as accountable.The conclusion is therefore here that language as a major means of communication has norms that guide its usage in any speech event. Through language use, people reveal the inherent structure of speeches as well as their communal speech codes imposed on them by their culture. Deviation from such speech codes are therefore perceived as deviation from culture.

Key words: Norms, Communication, Speech, Genre ethnography