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This research carries out a sociolinguistic study of Urhobo proverbs. Its aim is to explore and analyze Urhobo proverbs from a sociolinguistic perspective in the context of English as a second language in Nigeria. This will go a long way to offer a sociolinguistic insight to the contributions of Urhobo language, culture and way of life in the sociolinguistic context of English as a second language. The data for the study was sourced and collected orally from competent Urhobo native speakers from the context of use and Urhobo music. The qualitative and analytic research designs were adopted for the analysis. In all, fifty (50) proverbs were analyzed using Dell Hyme’s Ethnography of Communication theory as the major analytical framework with insights from Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis. This is because of the relevance of Dell Hymes’ SPEAKING which accounts for such sociolinguistic variables as setting, scene, participants, ends, act sequence, instrumentality and genre as is evidenced in the data; and how the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis allows this study to relate its data to aspects of Urhobo world view and culture. On typology, Adedimeji’s (2003) typological classification is applied for the classification of the data into types. It was discovered that SPEAKING allows for a comprehensive understanding of the data for this study as a result of its explicit and analytic potentials while the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis shows aspect of Urhobo culture that manifest in Urhobo proverbs.


Title page
Table of Contents

1.1       Background to the Study
1.2       Statement of the Problem
1.3       Objectives of the Study
1.4       Relevance of the Study
1.5       Scope of the Study

2.1       Introduction
2.1.1 The Concept of Sociolinguistics
2.1.2 The Proverb
2.1.3 Language and Society
2.2       Review of Relevant Literature

3.0       Introduction
3.1       Ethnography of Communication
3.2       The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis
3.3       Research Methodology
3.3.1    Research Design
3.3.2    Sources of Data
3.3.3    Method of Data Collection
3.3.4    Method of Data Analysis

4.0       Introduction
4.1       Sociolinguistic Analysis of Urhobo Proverbs
4.2       A Discussion of Analysis and Sociolinguistic Implication

5.0       Introduction
5.1       Summary
5.2       Conclusion
            Works Cited




This is a sociolinguistic study of Urhobo proverbs and Urhobo as used here refers to one of the sub-ethnic groups that constitute the present Delta State of Nigeria with a population of about 2.5 million people spread across 25 kingdoms covering over 5000 kilometers(Akpodiete,2013). The people are believed to have migrated from Aka-present day Edo territory. All the twenty-two kingdoms that constitute the Urhobo nation have their distinct dialects and traditions that reflect slight variation in origin and migrating patterns. However, there is a universal Urhobo language.
Akporobaro asserts that proverbs everywhere, Nigerian proverbs inclusive are determined by socio-geographical experience (72). This is to say that the nature of the imagery and the forms in which the truth in proverbs are expressed, to a very large extent, reflect the socio-cultural milieu in which the people live. He further states that the “repertoire of imagery implicit in the proverbs of the Southern people are different from those dominant in the proverbs of the North”. This is because proverbs reflect the values, beliefs, hopes and aspirations of the people, hence the proverbs of most of the Hausa people reveal the influence of the Islamic religion.

Urhobos are optimistic because of the good climate, fertile lands, rich cultural heritage, beauty and brilliance. Because of this, there is a positive outlook to life, a belief that life can be better through appropriate application of common sense or native intelligence, which is handed down by fore fathers to subsequent generations. Improper or non-application of this holistic wisdom could result to one’s failure in life. 
Sociolinguistics studies how language relates to society and it draws insights from sociology, anthropology and social psychology as well as insights from other areas of linguistic study. Sociolinguistics studies the relationship between language and society and between the users of language and the social structures in which the users of the language live. Bussman identifies sociolinguistics as that discipline which developed from the co-operation of linguistics and sociology and it aims at investigating the social meaning of language system and of the common set of conditions of language use and the linguistic and social structures (439).Hudson asserts that sociolinguistics is “the study of language in relation to society” (4).In the opinion of Holmes, the aim of sociolinguistics is to move towards a useful framework which provides a motivated account of the way language is used in a community and the way the users employ language.

Particular studies in sociolinguistics have demonstrated the importance of the social function of language and have also shown that it is often possible to find social explanations for aspects of linguistic structure (Malmjaer, 415).
Studies in sociolinguistics deal mainly with the way language varies according to the social context in which it is used and according to the social group to which a user belongs. It aims to describe this variation and to show how it reflects social structure. Malmjaer posits that those linguistic units which vary fairly systematically in relation to social variables such as the user’s region, class, ethnic group, age and gender are known as sociolinguistic variables.

Lyons posits that context determines the meaning of an utterance (201) and utterance according to Finnegan (549) is an “expression produced in a particular context with a particular intention”. Context is very important in decoding the meaning of proverb. It is context that....

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