Publisher: Linguistic Association of Nigeria

Transitivity and Grounding In Igbo Folktales

Maduabuchi Agbo
KEYWORDS: Transitivity, Grounding, Igbo Folktales

ABSTRACT:

Transitivity is a central property of language use. In this paper, we follow the transitivity parameters of Hopper and Thompson (1980) to determine the grammatical and semantic prominence of transitivity in three Igbo folktales. The results of our investigation show that there is no correlation between high transitivity and foregrounding in Igbo folktales or between low transitivity and backgrounding. This is contrary to the findings of Hopper and Thompson (1980) where high transitivity is correlated with foregrounding and low transitivity with backgrounding. We attribute the result to the oral background of Igbo folktales. The telling of Igbo folktales is motivated by the need to entertain and educate the audience. In this wise, the narrator engages in oral performance and each utterance is directed at the ultimate goal of keeping the audience engrossed with the story. When these stories are transcribed exactly as they are told, the motivation for each utterance is lost, but these utterances formed the data for our study. For the English narratives in Hopper and Thompson (1980), the narrators’ goals were just to tell sequentially a series of events and this may be why our result is different.


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