A STYLISTIC ANALYSIS OF ADICHIE’S THE THINGS AROUND YOUR NECK AND PURPLE HIBISCUS

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ABSTRACT

Style is one‟s way of doing a thing. It can be of dressing, speaking, acting, teaching and writing which is influenced by a lot of factors or ideologies such as history, religion and culture. However, the style of a writer albeit creative may pose a challenge to readers. This study attempts a linguistic stylistic analysis of Chimamanda Adichie‟s Purple Hibiscus and Things around the neck with the aim of identifying some of the linguistic features the writer used and to understand the cultural and historical ideology behind the texts, appreciating her style.Halliday‟s functional linguistics approach is adopted as a theoretical framework where particular note is taken of the stylistic functional effects and thematic significance of the linguistic features in literary texts. Leech and Short‟s (2007) analytical checklist is used to breakdown randomly selected stylistic features into three categories, lexical, grammatical and context. Basil Bernstein‟s (1971) perspective on code switching and mixing is used to analyse how the writer‟s culture informs her choice as a form of stylistic expression. The study has been able to highlight the stylistic features in the texts, analyse how these styles were used to reveal Adichie‟s ideas, and highlight the extent to which Adichie‟s cultural and linguistic background affect her style of writing. Halliday‟s systemic functional approach is of the opinion that style is functionally motivated by a writer‟s choice of language in use. Therefore this study outlined the various features (linguistic stylistic) which Adichie has used to creatively present her novels. This research therefore recommends that young writers can use Adichie‟s style of writing since the aim of studying style is to improve the vigour of the writer‟s ability to communicateeffectively

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

  • Background to theStudy

A lot of similarities exist in the definitions of language. From another angle, there are highly technical usages of the word “language” reflecting the way the term has been applied figuratively to all forms of human behaviour such as language of writing, media, politics, music, law and advertisement. Halliday (1971:332) also succinctly puts the function of language thus:

Language serves for the expression of content. The speaker or writer embodies language, his experiences of the internal world of his Consciousness, his reaction, cognition, and perception and also his Linguistic acts of speaking and understanding.

The major challenge about defining language is that of trying to summarise its contents in single sentences. According to Sapir (1921:8), language is a purely human and non-instinctive method of communicating ideas, thoughts and emotions by means of voluntarily produced symbols. This definition presents language as a primarily human characteristic for the purpose of communication. To Chomsky (1957:13), language is a set (finite or infinite) of sentences, each finite in length as set of physical patterns that are arbitrarily combined to make the communication process effective. From Chomsky‟s definition, it‟s obvious that language consists of several elements each with a different way of operation but combined together to produce unlimited constructions. Therefore to Chomsky, language is a functional element used by humans for the purpose of communication. From the perspective of the above definition of language by Sapir (1921:8) language communicates ideas, emotions, thoughts, and desires which, when put down in a literary text, is referred to asliterature.

Stylistic analysis which this research focuses on is the end product of two modes of analysis. That is, the literary and linguistic approaches to the analysis of literary texts. While the

role of the literary analyst is to bring out the style that is the literary elements used by the writer to interpret themes, the linguist on his part takes the codes as his domain, and the meaning of the work becomes relevant as far as it illustrates the use of language. Widdowson (1975) explains the function of literary stylistics as the interpretation and evaluation of literary text as works of art, and that the primary concern of the analysis is to explicate the individual message of the writer. Widdowson also clarifies the function of the linguistic stylistic analyst as the decoder of messages and exemplifiers of how the codes are constructed. This study is also aware of the difficulties and limitations of the linguistic stylistic analysis of a literary text such as properly describing the themes and methods developed in linguistics. Therefore, Halliday (1971:25) cautions for examplethat:

Linguistics is not and will never be the whole of literary analysis, and only the literary analysis not the linguistic analysis can  determine the place of linguistics in literary studies. But if a text is to be described at all, then it should be described properly and this means by the themes and methods developed in linguistics. The subject, which precisely shows how languageworks.

Considering the interrelationship between linguistics and language, and specifically the fact that linguistics is an illustration of the use of language and how language works, one can conclude by agreeing with Leech and Short (1981:74) that:

Every analysis of style is an attempt to find the artistic principles underlying a writer‟s choice of language. All writers and for that matter, all texts, have their individual qualities. Therefore the features which recommend themselves to the attention in one text will not be important in another text by the same or different authors.

This makes it possible for us to study the stylistic choices made by Chimamanda Adichie in her texts Purple Hibiscus (2005) and thing around your neck (2009), where she used the novel to explore the aspects of the challenging realities in the Nigerian society and reflections of important events in Nigeria‟s history and culture, especially that of the„ Biafra literature‟.In these texts, Nigeria‟s culture and history are presented with details which illustrate local variations and socio-cultural factors that inspire creativity. According to Nnolim (2001:290), the Nigerian novel is perceived as “the sum total of literary conventions and narrative habits that have been put together to assume what may now be referred to as indigenous ingredients that wear a peculiar Nigerian face in the corpus of the African Novel.”

A STYLISTIC ANALYSIS OF ADICHIE’S THE THINGS AROUND YOUR NECK AND PURPLE HIBISCUS