Journal of Universal Language
Sejong University Language Research Institue

The Structure and Texture of English Translations of Yorùbá and Igbo Proverbs

Mufutau Temitayo Lamidi1
1University of Ibadan

Copyright ⓒ 2016, Sejong University Language Research Institue. This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Published Online: Jan 01, 2017


Every culture has its rules of interaction and interpretation, and each also has rules for proverb construction and usage. As a literary genre, proverbs in Yorùbá and Igbo do possess some features that identify them in their areas of usage. These we explore in this paper with particular emphasis on the structure and the texture that proverbs share in the two languages. With data collected from literary works and scholarly publications of Yorùbá and Igbo scholars, this study reveals that proverbs in the two languages have identical structure and texture with few optional items on both sides. This study concludes that proverbs probably have universal structures and textures as found in the two cultures.

Keywords: proverbs; intertextuality; genre; Igbo; Yorùbá; structure; texture



Achebe, C. 1958. Things Fall Apart. Ibadan: Heinemann.


Amali, O. 1999. Sources of Idoma Proverbs: A Guide to Paremiographers. Proverbium 16, 1-21.


Bamgbose, A. 1968. The Form of Yoruba Proverbs. Journal of African Studies 4.2, 74-86.


Clark, P. 1964. Three Plays. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Cram, D. 1994. The Linguistic Status of the Proverb. In M. Wolfgang (ed.), Wise Words Essays on the Proverb 73-98. New York & London: Garland Publishing Inc.


Daramola, Y. 2004. Yoruba Proverbs in the Perspective of Music. Proverbium 21, 27-34.


Goatly, A. 1993. Species of Metaphor in Written and Spoken Varieties. In M. Ghaddessy (ed.), Register Analysis Theory and Practice 110-148. London: Pinter Publishers.


Halliday, K. & R. Hasan. 1989. Language, Context and Text: Aspects of Language in a Social Perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Hudson, A. 1996. Sociolinguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Hymes, D. 1962. The Ethnography of Speaking. In T. Gladwin & W. Sturtevant (eds.), Anthropology and Human 15-53. Washington DC: Anthropological Society of Washington.


Leckie-Tarry, H. 1995. Language and Context: A Functional Linguistic Theory of Registe. London: Pinter.


Mey, J. 2000. When Voices Clash a Study in Literary Pragmatics. New York: Mouton de Gruyter.


Nwachukwu-Agbada, J. 2002. The Igbo Proverbs: A Study of Its Context Performance and Functions. Enugu: John Jacob's Classic Publishers Ltd.


Olatunji, O. 1984. Features of Yoruba Oral Poetry. Ibadan: University of Ibadan Press.


Osundare, N. 2002. The State Visit. Ibadan: Kraftgriots.


Raji-Oyelade, A. 2004. Posing the African Proverb: A Grammar of Yoruba Postproverbials, or Logophagia, Logorrhea and the Grammar of Postproverbials. Proverbium 21, 299-314.


Rotimi, O. 1971 The Gods are Not to Blame. London: Oxford University Press.


Sakayan, D. 1999. Reported and Direct Speech in Proverbs: On Armenian Dialogue Proverbs. Proverbium 16, 303-324.


Soyinka, W. 1975. Death and the King's Horseman. Ibadan: Spectrum.