A Linguistic Analysis of metaphors in the Poetry of Niyi Osundare

Author: Oloko, Muhammed Jamiudeen

Supervisors: Adeyemi Daramola and Mojisola Shodipe

Poetic discourse has always been considered an important aspect of discursive practices that presents a scholarly approach to creative uses of language. Poetic discourse is considered to be comprehensively language-dependent; it relies mainly on the rhetorical and pragmatic configuration of linguistic elements for effective communication. In the rhetorical communication of a poet’s message, metaphor is an important device that is deployed deliberately to enhance the persuasive effect of the text by providing striking and vivid images which enhance the communicative meaning of a poetic work. Niyi Osundare is a worldrenowned Nigerian poet who has published eighteen books of poetry; multiple plays, travelogues, and monographs, as well as numerous scholarly articles and essays. The choice of metaphor in the investigation of Osundare’s creative use of language is motivated by the predominance of this literary device in his poetry. The problem of using a foreign language to express African realities, coupled with the problem of translation, constitutes a serious challenge to African writers. The “language question” has thus been a recurring issue in African literature whereby writers creatively explore the resources of the English language for the adequate expression of African thoughts and ideas. In addressing this problem therefore, this study investigates Osundare’s artistic deployment of a ‘foreign’ language to convey the African indigenous and world view to a global audience while imbuing his poems with a unique bilingual expressiveness and emotive content. The thrust of this study is to undertake a linguistic analysis of metaphors and how they function in communicating meaning for readers’ accessibility. This research also examines the aesthetic significance of Osundare’s poetry in terms of the poet’s skillful manipulation of textual features in the unique structuring of his poetry, and by implication, in structuring the message. The poems which are selected for analysis in this study were chosen for their topicality as well as their political, economic and cultural significance. Furthermore, most of these works are quite definitive of Osundare’s poetic style as they are overwhelmingly relevant in their metaphoric and linguistic import. The analysis of Osundare’s poetry in this study is carefully backgrounded against Halliday’s (2004) theoretical model of grammatical metaphor which explains meaning in terms of the ideational and interpersonal metafunctions of Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL). The findings of this study show that Osundare successfully uses English language to convey his message to the global audience and yet flaour his poems with nativeness and novelty through his bilingual creativity. The study also provides evidence of the emergence of some categories of metaphors that are not commonly discussed in Osundare’s poetry. The study contributes immensely to the understanding of linguistic analysis of Osundare’s poetry. Another significant contribution of this study is that the work linguistically situates Osudare’s use of metaphor in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the Nigerian people. The work also showcases the interface between foreign and indigenous languages thereby ‘‘tackling the language question’’ in African literature. The study thus concludes that for African literature to continue to enjoy large audience which cut across local and international readership, ‘the gradualist’ approach which advocates a de-anglicization and Africanization of the English language should be sustained until the recurring issue of language question is permanently resolved.