Linguistic and social relevance of aspects of Yoruba culture in selected songs of Yomi Sodipo and some Yoruba nursery rhymes
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The anthropological approach to ‘culture’ has moved from the understanding of ‘culture’ as a certain kind of monolithic construct which could be meaningful (when described in terms of stable constituents) to the insight that ‘culture’ is inherently versatile, flexible, context-dependent and variably can be understood. Following from this, this study considers the linguistic and social relevance of African culture as projected in selected African oral renditions. The data for the study comprise of Yemi Sodipo’s lyrics of Àmọ̀ràn (Advice), and Yoruba school children rhymes. The data were analysed within the frameworks of Halliday’s Systemic Functional Grammar and Lakoff & Johnson’s Conceptual Metaphor Theory. The study finds that African culture is rich enough to constitute a tool for improving language users’ prowess. The analysis shows that such rhymes and lyrics do not only instill the values and culture of the Yoruba people but it also serves as a means of teaching/learning figurative language use. Its richness in the use of linguistic devices such as metaphor and substitution enhances critical thinking as the audience would try to interpret the language pattern in order to arrive at the literal meaning of the songs/rhymes. Also, the study shows that given specific contexts, moral messages among the Yoruba are conveyed using various strategies such as coding, referencing and amplification, among others, even in everyday interaction. Furthermore, it is evident from this study that fundamental arguments permeate African musical texts among which are political struggle, clamour against moral decadence and projection of individual and collective roles in ensuring that the “world goes around”. However, the study also acknowledges that many of these culturally conscious lyrics are fast fading away especially among younger generations. Thus, it is suggested in this study that linguists and the Yorubas as a whole rise to re-awaken this consciousness and deploy such in ensuring a promotion of the African culture and its linguistic richness.
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