A Semantic Analysis of Absent Subjects of Idioms in Gĩkũyũ

Purity Njambi Kiguta, Moses Gatambuki Gathigia, Catherine Waithera Ndung’u

Abstract


Idioms have been studied for a considerable time by linguists with a view of explaining their meaning. In Gĩkũyũ, for example, the meaning of most idioms can be derived from constituents that form them. However, in some Gĩkũyũ idioms, the meaning is hindered by the absence of the subject in the idiomatic utterance or sentence. It is against this background that this study sought to conduct a semantic analysis on selected idioms in Gĩkũyũ. Thus, the objective of this study was to establish the absent subject in the selected Gĩkũyũ idioms through etymological elaboration and then conduct a semantic analysis of the idioms. The study was based on the Conventional Figurative Language Theory (Dobrovol and Elisabeth). The study employed the descriptive research design and purposively targeted 20 Gĩkũyũ idioms. Data was collected through focus group discussions involving 10 participants who are native speakers of Gĩkũyũ. The study used the content analysis method, which is within the qualitative research paradigm. The data was presented in form of tables and themes. The Gĩkũyũ idiomatic expressions and the established subjects were listed and their gloss provided. Through etymological elaboration, a semantic analysis of the idiomatic expressions was conducted. The findings of the study are that the absence of the subject in idioms greatly hinders their comprehensibility. Further, etymological elaboration is required in order to establish the absent subject. The findings therefore imply that whenever the comprehensibility of an idiom is compromised by the lack of the subject in the utterance, cognitive linguists should process the meaning by using etymological elaboration The study concludes that interpretation of idiomatic expressions in Gĩkũyũ can be enhanced by establishing the absent subject through etymological elaboration which provides clues that aid interpretation .Secondly, semantic analysis of the idioms enhances comprehensibility. The study recommends further research on absent subjects in Gĩkũyũ idioms that were not part of this study. Secondly, other idiom processing strategies for example contextualization (Copper, 2004) can be used to establish the absent subjects in idiomatic expressions. Thirdly, further research can be conducted to establish other aspects of idioms that hinder comprehensibility of idioms not only in Gĩkũyũ but also in other languages. The study will not only provide valuable linguistic knowledge on the study of idioms in Gĩkũyũ but will also encourage further research on idioms in other languages.

Keywords


Subject, Etymological Elaboration, Gĩkũyũ, Idiom, Non –compositional, Semantics, Focus Group, Native

Full Text:

PDF

References


Ayto, J. (2012). (Ed). Oxford dictionary of English idioms (8th ed). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Bernard, R. (2002). Purposive sampling as a tool for informant selection. Journal of Plant, People and Applied Research, 8,1-12

Boers, F. (2004). Etymological elaboration as a strategy for learning odioms. Amsterdam: John Benjamin Publishing company.

Cooper, R. (2004). The semantics and pragmatics dialogue. Sweden: University of Gothenburg.

Dobrovolskij, D., & Elisabeth, P. (2005). Figurative language. Cross cultural and cross linguistic perspective . Amsterdam: Oxford university Press.

Glucksberg, S., (2001). Understanding figurative language: From metaphor to idioms. Oxford: Oxford university Press.

Grant, L., & Bauer, L. (2004). Criteria for re-defining idioms. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kavka, S., & Zybert, J. (2004). Glimpses on the history of idiomaticity issue. Journal of theoretical linguistics 1,17,145-163.

Kenya National Bureau of Statictics.(2009). Population Demographics.Nairobi:Government Press.

Kenya National Bureau of Statictics .(2019).Population Demographics.Nairobi:Goverrnment Press.

Krueger RA & Casey MA (2000). Focus Groups: A Practical Guide for Applied Research,3rd ed . Thousand Oaks ,CA :Sage Publications.

Lincoln, Y & Guba, E (1989) Fourth Generation Evaluation. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.

Lobner, S. (2002).Understanding semantics. London: Arnold Publishers.

McLeod, S. A. (2014). Sampling methods. Retrieved from www.simply psychology.org.

Moreno, V. (2007). Creativity and convention: The pragmatics of everyday figurative language. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Munyu, J. (2016) Interpretation of Gikuyu Idiomatic Expressions:A

cognitive Approach. (Masters thesis). University of Nairobi, Nairobi.

Patton, M. (2002). Qualitative evaluation and research method. London:Sage Publishers.

Saeed, J. (1997).Semantics: Blackwell : Oxford.

Sheppard, M. (2006). Purposive sampling as a tool for information selection: Farnham: Ashgate Publishing Ltd.

Strauss, A & Corbin, J (1998) Basics of Qualitative Research, Techniques and Procedures for Developing Grounded Theory, 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Thomason, R. (2012). What is Semantics? Journal of philosophical logic (40), 1-14.

Thompson, I. (2014). Gikuyu. Retrieved from about world languages.com kikuyu.

Trochim. W. (2005). Research methods. New york: Cornell University Press.

Webb,V., & Kembo, S. (2002). An Introduction to the language and linguistics of Africa. New York: University Press.




DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7575/aiac.alls.v.11n.3p.9

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.




Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2010-2020 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD.

Advances in Language and Literary Studies

You may require to add the 'aiac.org.au' domain to your e-mail 'safe list’ If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox'. Otherwise, you may check your 'Spam mail' or 'junk mail' folders.