JASSD - Journal of African Studies and Sustainable Development (Vol. 5 No. 2, 2022) IGBO ABUSIVE EXPRESSIONS: A SEMANTIC APPROACH Onah Patrick El-kanemi & Kalu, Comfort Chinasaokwu


There are many hate speeches and other abusive words especially on the social media and in the contemporary human society. It is the preponderant usage of abusive expression that necessitated the need to investigate the meaning of some Igbo abusive them particularly. Although the meanings of some of these abusive expressions are explicit, others are implicit; it is this degree of relativity in meaning that gives room to the distortion of meaning, thereby creating problems or verbal wars among users of the language. This study, Igbo Abusive Expressions: A Semantic Approach, examines the semantic entailment of some Igbo abusive expressions in order to reduce the negative influence of such expressions. The motivation for the study stems from the aggression people show when abusive expressions are directed at them. The data for this research were sourced from both primary, secondary sources as well as elements from spontaneous speeches of some Igbo speakers where abusive words were used. Such interjected speeches were translated and analyzed for better understanding. Whorf’s theory of Semantic Relativity, the Contextual Theory of Meaning popularized by Firth and the Theory of Entailment form the theoretical framework and analytical procedure of the data. From the data analysis, the study has as its findings the meanings of abusive expressions are relative, contextual and associative. The study also submits that Igbo abusive expressions are drawn from characteristics of animals, diseases, negative character traits, supernatural beings among others and have some positive functions apart from causing emotional pain. The research therefore recommends that parents and care-givers should be mindful of the psychological trauma their abusive language have on their victims. And finally, less hate speech and abusive language should be used in our society for the inhibitive socio-psychological implications they have on the abused populace.


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