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Analyses of oral literature have for long concentrated on function and form, with little or no attention paid to the aesthetic and linguistic aspects. This work applies linguistic principles to the analysis of oral literature. The purpose is to arrive at an interpretation of the tales, based on the structure, to enable us study some of the lexical and grammatical categories isolated from the tales, and to attempt constructing a tentative theory of the linguistic properties of oral tale. After the introduction, the work is divided into four chapters. Chapter one is an introduction to the text. Chapter two presents a literature review of related works, chapter three is our research method while chapter four analyses a selection from our corpus, while five concludes the thesis. While analyzing lexical and grammatical categories in the tales, this thesis further argues that to understand the meaning of oral literature, one has to understand its distinctive language and style and concludes that narrators use words deliberately to achieve the reaction they desire from the audience.


Title Page
Table of Contents

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

2.1       Conceptual Framework
2.1.1 The concept of Oral Literature
2.2       Theoretical Framework
2.3       Empirical Concept

3.1       Research Design
3.2       Population of the Research
3.3       Sample
3.4       Instrument of Data Collection
3.5       Data Collation and Analysis


Works Cited




Traditional Africa was a basically oral society. Our history, science, medicine, technology, philosophy and literary forms were passed through the words of mouth in myths, folktales, legends, proverbs,praise poetry and ritual performances.Our biological ancestors did not cease to be a mere species of animal and become mankind until the capacity for rhythmic language and narration had evolved in them. In myth the world over, these mental powers are said to be god-given and divine. So for long ages the only way any knowledge could survive from one generation to another was through oral literature.

Oral literature began so long ago in prehistoric time that no one can scientifically even guess how or when they originated. It has certain stylistic aspect which is peculiar to it.

It is specific and less ambiguous way of communication, because the speaker reinforces his or her specificity of meaning with gesture, expression, intonation, and so on, and various self-correcting mechanisms of which written literature is incapable of doing. It also ratify the meaning of each word in a succession of concrete situations.

Oral literature is a broad term which may include ritual performance, curative chants, epic poems,ballad and songs, musical genres, folk tales, creation tales, songs, myths, spells, legends, proverbs, riddles, tongue-twisters, word games, recitations, life histories or historical narratives. These forms constitute in a real and significant sense, the literary traditions and achievement of indigenous African societies. They are the manifestations of traditional creative imagination, beliefs and perception of social reality. They are modes which construct anddeconstruct the social – cultural milieu of the people. These are the verbal, auditory manifestations of Man’s creative impulse.

Oral Literature refers to any form of verbal art which is transmitted orally or delivered by word of mouth. Jane Nandwa and Austin Bukenya define oral literature as "those utterances, whether spoken, recited or sung, whose composition and performance exhibit to an appreciable degree the artistic character of accurate observation, vivid imagination and ingenious expression”(35)

The language of African oral literature is another area of interest that has raised much controversy among scholars and critics. language is a system of communication in speech and writing that is peculiar to a particular group of people while literature is an art and it is distinguished from other art form by the fact that it utilizes language as its medium of expression. Like written literature, oral literature depends on imaginative use of language; the artist uses language to create an artistic impact on the listener.The importance of language to a people cannot be over-emphasized because it is a crucial element in the making of a society. Without a common language, a society cannot evolve.A common culture and history are dependent on language.

Having established these basic frameworks, the major task in this research is to linguistically analyze style and language in oral literature with reference to tales from Igbere. For the purpose of this study a brief background of Igbere will be given below for proper understanding of their tales.

Not much is known about the people of Igbere, as very little research has been done on them. But one thing stands out clear, namely,that Igbere and all the communities around it have linguistic, cultural and historical affinities.

The Igbere are famous for their narratives. Their stories are used to instruct, teach, warn and set qualitative standards in order to encourage good performance. Their....

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