Language Use in “Ngasya” Speech Event in the Akamba Community

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Mutunga, Ngina Carolyne
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Kenyatta University
This study aimed at investigating language use in Ngasya Speech Event in Kibwezi East, Mbooni East and Makueni sub-counties of Makueni County. It is a cultural event in the Kamba community done by a man’s family in honour of a married woman in her maternal home for the purpose of appreciating the woman’s family for gifting the man’s family with a wife. The study focused on uniqueness of selected lexical items and sentence structures collected from speeches, songs and conversations, as data occurring during the Ngasya Speech Event. A sample of two Ngasya Speech Event from each study area was selected and an analysis done on their language use in these events. Data for the study was obtained through tape recordings, observations and the use of questionnaires. The tape recorded spontaneous spoken language was transcribed and the extracts of the transcribed text studied. A semi-structured questionnaire was administered to six (6) Ngasya Speech Event participants. The questionnaire was to complement the data collected through the observation method in which selected lexical items and sentence structures were used differently in Ngasya Speech Event compared to other speech events like weddings and funerals. The data collected was correlated with the social variables of age, sex, rural-urban dichotomy in the six Ngasya Speech Events, two at Kibwezi, two at Kathonzweni and two at Makueni sub counties within Makueni County as shown in the study detailed in this document. The findings from these analyses were used to explain language use in Ngasya Speech Event. Through the data, it was necessary to explain the rhetorical structure of Ngasya Speech Event, to describe its typical lexical features and to establish how the Linguistic Relativity theory and Communicative Competence theory account for language use in the discourse in this kind of event. The data was analyzed through both qualitative and quantitative approaches and presented in form of percentages and tables in line with the objectives of this study. Findings indicated Ngasya Speech Event is characterized by a rhetorical structure made up of events and activities that occur in predictable stages. Further, there are typical lexical items that are used during the Ngasya Speech Event. These have been grouped according to the various place where these lexical items and sentence structures have been used. These lexical items present in Ngasya Speech Event are selected and rhetorically arranged for the purpose of delivery in either a song or a speech. Arising from the outcome of this study, we suggest that further research be carried out in other events in the Kamba community like beer parties, weddings and funeral ceremonies to investigate how language is used with communicative competence. The study found out that there is a clear rhetorical restructure of Ngasya Speech Event which can be established rhetorically. It was further found out that there are typical lexical features of Ngasya Speech Event which are different in different Kamba contexts. It was also found out that the theory of linguistic relativity accounts for language use and message conveyed in Ngasya Speech Event. Participants of Ngasya Speech Event were found to use words according to the different contexts and their environment in line with Communicative Competence Theory. Finally, the study recommends that this study be integrated in the Kenyan Competence Based Curriculum as it provide some data that may be used for material preparation and design for the implementation of the Competence Based Curriculum in Primary schools.
A Research Project Submitted to the School of Law Arts and Social Sciences in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Award of the Degree of Master of Arts in English and Linguistics of Kenyatta University, April, 2023.
Language Use, Ngasya, Speech Event, Akamba Community