Structure of Proverbs in Selected Yorùbá Written Literature

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Òjó, E.T.
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Ihafa: A Journal of African Studies
The claim that Yoruba proverbs embody typical clause structure without compromising their cultural values and rhetorical purposes in verbal and written discourse has not been subjected to adequate linguistic/grammatical analysis. This study explores, from a stylistic point of view, the various structures of proverbs found in some selected Yorùbá written literature. The intention is to identify, describe, and interpret the different patterns of structure and the communicative functions they signal in the proverbs. The study is anchored on Michael Halliday’s Systemic Functional Grammar. Twelve texts from the works of Olú-Owólabí, Adébáyò Fálétí, ̣ Ọládèj̣ọ Òkédìjí, Akínwùmí Ìṣòlá, and Kó ̣ lá Akínlàdé having rich ̣ repertoire of proverbs with thematic and stylistic similarities were selected; and the proverbs were subjected to stylistic analysis. Findings reveal that simple sentence proverbs facilitate clear comprehension of the messages; compound sentence proverbs project symmetrical ideas; while complex and compound-complex sentence proverbs communicate complex arguments and ideational explicitness in the language.
Yorùbá written literature; proverbs; stylistics; systemic functional grammar.