A Socio-phonetic study of Proverb-riddle as an Aspect of Verbal Art in traditional Anaang By Itoro Michael Department of Linguistics and Nigerian Languages, University of Uyo, Uyo. ABSTRACT
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A Socio-phonetic study of Proverb-riddle as an Aspect of Verbal Art in traditional Anaang By Itoro Michael Department of Linguistics and Nigerian Languages,University of Uyo, Uyo.
ABSTRACT • The project examines the use of proverb-riddle in Anaang, an endangered language in Southern-Nigeria. The study focuses on four Anaang dialects: Abak, Ika, Ikot-Ekpene and Ukanafun linguistics areas. The project focuses on the socio-cultural and grammatical relevance of a largely neglected aspect of African verbal arts. Relying on structured interview, participant observation and focused group interview, the study identifies the established verbal convention that is significant to Anaang tradition and socio-cultural heritage. • The application of sound, tone rhythm and syllable in proverb-riddle trigger significant phonetic/grammatical information that is relevant to African verbal art. Proverb-riddle comprises two parts; ‘a call and its response’. The application of instrumental analysis shows that the understanding of proverb-riddle depends deeply on additional quality of similar metrical and phonetic component of the call and its responds. The study establishes broad tendencies in cross linguistic and cultural studies.
MOTIVATION • There are critical gaps and loss of knowledge on the basic rudiment of what constitutes traditional Anaang owing to gradual language shift. • Coupled with the new tradition where English has become the first language to the young generation, owing to the influence of western culture and education. • The rate of intergenerational transmission of vital aspects of Anaang verbal art is eroding. • This project is therefore motivated by the need to revitilise and preserve the linguistics and cultural knowledge of Anaang verbal art.
EXPECTED OUTCOME • Revitalization and maintenance of the Anaang language and culture • Revitalization of aspects of Anaang folklore • Relate to the interface of language, culture and society or linguistics and ethnography. • Enriches the intellectual capacity by providing the basis for the understanding of proverb-riddles as an aspect of African verbal art • Documentation for posterity. • Provide rich linguistic information for the understanding of cultural-based information.
PREVIOUS WORK • There exist several works on various aspects of verbal art in Southern Nigeria. • However, area of focus have been on proverbs, riddles, folktales, songs and puzzles. • The existing literature shows that most of the works have been limited to alphabetic listing of proverbs, and some itemised subjects. • It is apparent that the communication context of verbal art and their functions with reference to their uses including socio-cultural and grammatical relevance were sadly neglected in the work carried out by the researchers on Anaang verbal art like proverbs, riddles or proverb-riddles.
THEORETICAL CONSIDERATION • The study is based on socio-phonetic interface approach. • Phonetics as well as phonology in Anaang interacts with sociolinguistics in diverse ways. One of which is on the use of tonal rhythm in proverb-riddles. • As observed by Udoh (1998), Anaang is a syllable-timed language where the rhythm of the word/phrase is designed by the syllable. • At the same time, every syllable is tone-marked. • Tone and syllable are therefore considered very important constituents in phonetics/phonological study.
These important phonological phenomena can equally be applied for the analysis of the concept of Anaang proverb-riddles, which is an aspect of sociolinguistics. Tone and syllable structure of Anaang are therefore determinant in proverb-riddles. • Example follows. • 1 Call : m̀kpákpáná íkùa ‘a blunt knife’. • blunt knife • Response: ìnó típpé ífiòk ‘thieves are wise’. • thieves manufacture wisdom • This is presented thus: • m̀–kpá–kpá–ná -í-kùa • ì̀ – nó– típ– pé- í–fiòk
The emphasis is not on the blunt knife. The blunt knife is used as a riddle. • The interpretation is based on the prosodic features of the riddle presented. • The riddle has six syllables, starts with a low tone, rises and ends with a falling pitch. The rhythm of the sentence is transferred to the response or interpretation. • The understanding and interpretation of Anaang proverb-riddles therefore lies in the ability of the audience to match the tone/syllable of the call with the meaning, which generally is presented in the context of proverbs
THE DATA • Proverb-riddle comprises two parts: the call and its response. The question which is thrown to the audience or interlocutors is presented in a riddle form. A riddle is first presented to the audience. The audience is expected to interpret the riddle in form of proverb as follows. • 2. Q:Ábémḿe èkóísò dé ámédìok íkó ádán As you protect the forehead do you have a tin of oil? • Q:Ámáahá ǹ̀nwáan ágwò áméním àkpó ébót As you make love with someone's wife, have you kept a he-goat?
3.Q: m̀kpátát átát ábìok ké úkòt ‘ Mkpatat grows on raffia tree’ • R: ìkpóoǹ áwò ákpà té únèn ‘An indigent person dies like a fowl’ • 4.Q: ékràn á́dùk àbà únò á́sùan ǹtò ‘ Ekrań enters the space in Uno tree and scattered the nestlings’ • R: íbààn ébèn àkpàn úmà ébèn m̀bùk ‘women step out with their business baskets, alongside stories/gossips’ • 5: èkpàt ńkàdi ́ ìtìabà ‘seven bags of gari’ • R: ìnòok íkoppó èkàrìkà a greedy man does not mind the effects of harmattan’
6. Q: ńkòń íkpòń ítàk àj̀op àyòkkó àyòk ‘the cocoyam leaf by the palm tree is a mighty one’ • R: ínùa íbàn ídún àjìt àbòkkó à̀bùk ‘The rate of gossiping by our women calls for celebration if you are exonerated’
ANALYSIS • These items are purposefully selected to reflect common life experiences in Anaang. The analysis of Anaang proverb-riddles will be presented in two approaches: literary interpretation and phonological analysis. The literary interpretation presents a word-to-meaning and a brief explanation of the proverb-riddles and their relevance. • 7 Ábémḿe èkóísò dé ámédìok íkó ádán you-protect forehead there you keep tin oil? • R. àmaàhá ńnwaàn áwò àmenìm àkpó ébòt? you-love woman person you-kept he – goat • As you aim at making love to a married woman, have you make provision for a he-goat. • There is vengeance to any abominable act. • The act of making love to a married woman is punishable by tradition. • This proverb-riddle clearly shows that there is a high cost to every evil act committed in Anaangland.
8. m̀kpátát átát ábìok ké úkòt • mkpatat grass grows on raffia tree • R: ìkpóoǹ áwo ̀ ákpà te ́ únèn • indigent person dies like fowl • This means that a disserted person or an indigent is as helpless as a fowl. • The hen can be killed or can die at any-time, anywhere as a result of lack of shelter, food or care. This section is concluded with two proverb-riddles that talk about life uncertainty.
9. C: Ékràn á́dùk àbà únò á́sùan ǹtò Ekran enters hole uno tree scatter nestling • R: Íbààn ébèn àkpàn úruà ébèn m̀bùk • Women carry basket market carry stories • 10. Q: étó ádááhá kó ádé ìbà • tree standing yonder is two • R: àwó ádihé kó ádi m̀bùk • human coming yonder come gossip • Examples (9) and (10) clearly portray the act of gossip by women especially on their way to the market. This even extended to the purpose of visit i.e. ‘to gossip’. The society despises this act and as such uses proverb-riddles to expose it.
Conclusion • Linguistically, proverb-riddle is phonetically based. The understanding of proverb-riddle depends deeply on additional quality of similar tonal rhythm, the syllable pattern, and the metrical components of the call and its response. • Culturally, Anaang proverb-riddle clearly demonstrates the existence of oral tradition. It was generated on daily experience. • Anaang proverb-riddle communicates cultural identity. Its contents clearly demonstrate culture specific truth. • Proverb-riddle is used as an instrument of inclusion or exclusion in communication; exclusion for those who do not understand the cultural background and of course, the rhythm of the riddle used. Inclusion for those who actually understand the rhythm meaning of the riddle.
The proverbial aspect of proverb-riddles have contextual meaning. The content is presented in gnomic, clever with wise and sometime short sentences. The sentence is encoded. Sometimes, Anaang proverb-riddles are presented in an impolite and terse voice for the purpose of emphasis as we have in these examples. • Anaang proverb-riddles have inherent peculiar characteristics different from ordinary construction. These features include: oral tradition, creative, culture specific, relative and contextual, metaphorical, symbolical, allegorical and meanings and impoliteness among others.