Proverbs in Things Fall Apart
Proverbs are smart sayings that deal with the heart of the discourse in any given context, honestly and objectively. In Africa and in Nigerian cultures specifically, they are considered the reputable horses, which communicate significances to their locations or hearts of the listeners. This study examines elements of the significance of sayings in the work of a Nigerian author, Achebe’s Things Break down. It is contended that significances of Nigerian sayings can be exercised within the semantic, referential, ideational, stimulus-response, realist and contextual theories.
Kinds of meaning and proverbs are dealt with and situated within the 2 works. It is advanced that proverbs play significant roles in clarifying, exemplifying, underscoring and affecting interaction. With the broadly analyzed sayings, the study tries to further show the vigor of semantics and pragmatics in negotiating significance specifically in a 2nd language context. Proverbs prevail features of conversational eloquence in numerous African cultures, particularly in Nigeria.
Such “sensible expressions” are normally obtained and learnt from listening to the seniors’ talk. Provided the classic position that the seniors inhabit in different African traditions as the human repository of communal or prehistoric wisdom, they are the masters of eloquence, rhetoric and meaning. They are the ones who understand how to fertilize brief expressions with vast meanings, implicating the proverb, “it is the older’s mouth that figures out a ripe kola nut”. Numerous meanings of the term “proverb” be plentiful in literature.
The main idea in the definitions is that a saying is “an adage, saying, maxim, precept, saw or any synonym of such that expresses standard truth”. From Things Break down The sun will shine on those who stand before it shines on those who kneel under them p. 6 Theory: Referential Type: Denotative/Connotative Analysis: The saying refers to a cosmic body, the sun, with a view to stimulating its sense– that those who strive and work (by remaining standing) will gain from the fruit of their work before those who depend upon them (by kneeling or obtaining succor from them).
While the reasoning of preventing dependence can be made, the message is primarily that those who do not face the obstacles of life and work assiduously defying sunshine needs to please themselves with the crumbs that fall from the table of the hardworking ones. The saying discourages laziness and implies the need for everyone to be hard-working. If a kid washed his hands, he might eat with kings. p. 6 Theory: Realist Types: Denotative, thematic Analysis: The saying represents the honor and dignity attributed to cleanliness and obligation.
It thematizes hands cleaning, a great character training and hygienic method of eating as a sine qua non to honor. We infer that if a person does the right thing at the correct time, as the proverb involves good fortune, honor, respect, esteem and credit will be his, just like consuming together with kings. The pragmatic understanding of how actually high the Nigerians rate their traditional rulers offers a further clue to the semantic import of the proverb. 3 When the moon is shining, the cripple becomes starving for a walk. p. 9.
Theory: Referential Types: Collocative, Stylistic Analysis: Referral is made to another cosmic body, the moon, in this proverb, as “shining” collocates with “the moon” and “paralyze” collocates metaphorically with “walk”. The sense of the saying depends on the cause-effect theory that if motivation is given, action arises. In essence, night is traditionally taken as a period of rest however in a scenario where there is moon-light, not just the able-bodied feels the need to walk or work in the night but even the cripple does.
Night is suggested and not specified for stylistic functions while “hungry”, a marked word that ordinarily does not use to “walk”, is likewise utilized for stylistic impact. The highlighting message is that a good cause or motivation events a great effect or line of action. 4 A man who pays respect to the terrific leads the way for his own achievement p. 14. Theory: Stimulus-Response Types: Denotative, Affective. Analysis: There is a tact recommendations practically accompanying the English saying, “one excellent turn should have another” here. If an individual accords honor or respect to the successful ones, it is most likely that he is also going to succeed.
Simply put, the sense of the proverb is that an individual who assists another male assists himself indirectly as he gets familiar with what that man engages in– and this will eventually lead him also to achievement, straight or indirectly. 5 A toad does not run in the daytime for absolutely nothing. 15 Theory: Ideational Types: Denotative/Stylistic Analysis: The proverb tasks our mental conception or general understanding of the toad as a nighttime animal. If such an animal therefore does “run” (a lexical item chosen by the author for metaphorical or stylistic impact, versus the typical collocative word, “dive”) in the day, there need to be something amiss.
The sense of the saying is that there is a cause for anything odd that occurs; there need to be a reason, a minimum of “no smoke without fire”. A toad running in daytime is most likely pursuing something or definitely something is pursuing it. It involves the “cause-effect” relationship. An old woman is constantly anxious when dry bones are mentioned in a proverb. p. 15 Theory: Stimulus– Action Types: Denotative/Thematic Analysis: This saying also displays “causes-effect” relationship as it thematises the old lady. It suggests that people who have negative features feel disturbed when such functions are being highlighted.
There is the impact or reaction of anxiety with reference to the dry bones due to the fact that an old woman whose dry bones are indications of impending death is constantly frightened of death. The sense of the saying, basically, is that conscience worries individuals of unfavorable characteristics even when they are not attended to but their excesses (so to state) are being condemned. The lizard that leapt from the high Iroko tree to the ground said he would praise himself if no one else did. p. 16. Theory: Referential Types: Denotative/Connotative Analysis: The saying elicits the self-contentment and delight of good work.
A good work, we can presume, is itself commendable whether people value it or not. Recommendation is made to the lizard which nods after any activity it engages in, implicating its self-praise. The animal is personified for poetic effect. The English equivalent of “if you do not blow your trumpet, no one will blow it for you” may even more show the sense of the proverb– that if you do not appreciate your worth and dignify yourself, individuals may not bother to do it for you. Eneke the bird says because men have actually discovered to shoot without missing, he has actually learnt to fly without setting down. 16. Theory: Referential Types: Denotative/Connotative Analysis: Like the previous saying, this saying derives its message from folklore, in which human characteristics are offered to animals/non-human creatures. The meaning is both actual and metaphorical as well as multi-dimensional in scope. Changing situations bring to life innovations. If students, for example, establish unique ways of unfaithful in the examinations, referentially, the authorities also develop ipso facto, new techniques of capturing or detecting the cheats. When a man states yes, his Chi states yes likewise. p. 9 Theory: Ideational Types: Denotative/Connotative. Analysis: The proverb appropriately summarizes the essence of decision and strong will, within one’s mental context. Recommendation to chi, an individual’s individual god in Igbo culture, is of connotative import. The message interpreted is that guy needs to constantly take decisive decisions for himself and deal with to do whatever he jobs himself to do for that will constantly be the will of his supposed “god”. A possible English equivalent is that “heavens help those who assist themselves”, and as such, man needs to always be accountable for all his actions.
A chick that will become a dick can be found the really day it hatches. p. 46 Theory: Realist Types: Denotative/Connotative. Analysis: The saying explores the sensible sequence of things/ phenomena: that a basic analysis can be made from specific traits. In the real life, from the initial phase, from countenance and appearance, one is able to identify the excellent, the bad and the awful. The reference to the chick in our mind is illustrative: the chick that will not live long will most likely look frail and sickly, ideal from the day it is hatched.
Our actions, at particular times, are indices of our character, the proverb tells us. A child’s finger is not heated by a piece of hot yam which its mother takes into its palm. p. 47 Theory: Contextual Types: Denotive/Collocative Analysis: Offered the contextual/pragmatic knowledge of a mother’s love for her child especially in the Nigerian cultures, it is implied that whatever she does, even if such superficially appears hazardous, will be of benefit to the kid. This is because it is presupposed that no one enjoys a kid better than his/her mom.
Thus, the sense of the proverb, which for impact parades “child/mother”, “finger/palm”, “a piece of hot yam” etc collocates, is that love bears no harm. If there is love, there is no need for appointment in taking a cherished’s piece of suggestions, whether one considers it excellent or not, because a cherished person will not recommend a damaging remedy for whom he likes. 12 If one finger brought oil, it soiled the others. p. 87. Theory: Ideational Types: Denotative/Connotative/Stylistic
Analysis: The saying highlights the principle of collective duty: what one does implicates the participation of the others. With tact reference to our understanding or ideas of the world, if a finger is dipped into the oil, other fingers get smeared alongside given that they are together. Simply put, an outrageous act by a person brings embarassment, odium and opprobrium to him and by extension, to his family and community. Stylistic factors to consider strike the choice of “brought” and “soiled” from the existing alternatives– which might further communicate the very same concept.
A kid can not spend for its mother’s milk. p. 117 Theory: Realist Types: Connotative/Collocative. Analysis: This proverb anchors an axiomatic fact: certain things are unquantifiable or valuable. No matter just how much the child offers the mother later in life, such is unworthy her milk, offered the kid at infancy. By extension, compassion, love (and such virtues) can not be completely reciprocated, as they are inestimably valuable. Collocates like “child, mom, milk” improve the sense of the meaning. An animal rubs its aching flank versus a tree, a guy asks his kinsman to scratch him p. 17. Theory: Realist/Stimulus-Response Types: Connotative/Stylistic. Analysis: By drawing our attention to the real world of human-animal behavioral patterns, the proverb draws the line in between a human and an animal. The proverb is suggestive of the social nature of guy, and the reality that “no man is an Island”. The proverb recommends that it is love that differentiates guys from animals. Individuals who do not seek their fellow people’ aid when in danger or trouble are therefore animalistic.
Significant word patterns like “aching”, “flank”, “kinsman”, “rubs”, “scratch”, that one would generally choose other words for, are used for stylistic functions, stimulating the connotative, figurative sense. Living fire begets cold, impotent ash. p. 118 Theory: Ideational Types: Connotative/Stylistic Analysis: The sense stimulated by this epigrammatic declaration is the vanity of arrogance. By creating the image/idea of fire in our mind, we are implicitly told that fire flares up in pride however its consequence is cold, impotent ash.
The connotative meanings of “cold” and “impotent” are quite necessary and their stylistic association with ash provides credence to the force of the meaning. Both fire and “ash” conjure in us human qualities– the fire brings to life a cold and impotent child in ash. The sense of the saying or its message is that people ought to be good and level-headed when they are appropriate (to be in a position) or alive; for, when they lose such position and pass away, they become useless and undesirable– consequently ending up being items of public disdain.