The contextualization of lexical items in Chinua Achebe's Arrow of God
Kailiti, Hellen B. K.
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The study is on the contextualization of lexical items in Chinua Achebe's literary work, Arrow of God. The objectives of the study were; to identify the lexical items which reflect the society's worldview in Arrow of God, to find out the similarities and differences in the semantic and pragmatic use of lexical items in the literary work and to explain the features of context brought about by the use of the lexical items by the writer. The social language theory and the Sapir - Whorf hypothesis in Gumperz and Hymes (1986), the literary theory, (SIL, 2005) and The Language variation theory posited by Labov (1966) guided the study in identifying the contextual features of the sampled lexical items The analysis of the lexical items was also guided by the same theories. The lexical items confirm that the writer is influenced by the societal worldview as revealed in the findings. The research design adopted was extensively qualitative with some aspects of quantitative design used in the process of data analysis. The qualitative design used was content analysis as the research identified lexical items which had contextual features through inference and they were subjected to descriptive analysis to identify the aspects of the Igbo worldview and contextual features that they represented. The researcher read through the novel and randomly sampled five chapters from which the lexical items were purposively sampled. The sample consisted of twenty lexical items. The lexical items were subjected to qualitative analysis. Inference was used to determine the contextual use of the lexical items to reveal the Igbo worldview. The meaning, both semantic and pragmatic was portrayed and was compared to a prospective reader's interpretation without considering the context. Features of context were identified by a close examination of the phenomena referred to by the lexical items. The findings revealed that Achebe uses lexical items as dictated by the worldview of his society. The lexical items show different aspects of the Igbo worldview. However, the semantic and pragmatic use of the lexical items does not show great differences which can interfere with a reader's comprehension. Readers can understand the pragmatic use of the lexical items when they refer to the greater linguistic context. Features of context have been brought out by the use of lexical items. These are race, societal practices, the family and gender issues. These findings are of importance to pedagogy as they provide a basis of understanding literary texts both for studies leading to examinations and for research. Readers need to identify the lexical items whose usage is `marked' in a text and interpret them in context hence comprehending the literary work.