African Proverbs about Women: Semantic Import and Impact in African Societies
AbstractProverbs are short popularly known statements which contain wisdom, truth, morals, socio-cultural precepts and heritage of a particular ethnic group. Every ethnic group in Africa and the world over has its set of proverbs, maxims and popular sayings formulated and collected over several generations. Proverbs reflect the community’s world view by projecting her beliefs, moral attitudes and inner life. Existing in every language community, they constitute a very important category in African folkore. This paper examined the semantic import of African proverbs about women and their status as depicted by selected ones and wise sayings from several ethnic groups across the continent. Since the proverb is a language phenomenon and symbols in language influence thought, infact the psyche and consequently the world view, our semantic analysis of the symbols used in the proverbs will be based on the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (Eka, 2009, p.31). Our conclusion will suggest ways by which African women will rid themselves of negative sterotypes and complexes buttressed in the culture and propagated in the use of proverbs about them.
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