Social Meaning and Kinship Terms in English and Ukwuani

By Mabel Osakwe.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper reports the outcome of a study aimed at discovering linguistic and socio-cultural similarities and differences between kinship terms in English and Ukwuani languages. It shows how anthropology and sociology impact on the taxonomy of kinship terms for meaning interpretation; ‘descent’, being gradually and strongly integrative of social affinity, and revealing how speakers use their language to organize the world around them. The research methodology employed questionnaires, oral interview and anthropological data, designed to generate authentic responses from mature native speakers and regular users of Ukwuani and English living speeches. The findings reveal among other facts, that both languages do not have kinship terms which express all possible kinship, both languages do not have exact translation equivalent and English has more lexicalized terms while Ukwuani has some lexicalized marriage kinship, not lexicalized in English, and additional markings indicating seniority. The study also confirms universals in human kinship which remain functionally stable with linguistic principles of classificatory terms.

Keywords: Semantic Structure, Kinship Systems, Universal Features, Semantic Features, Semantic Components, Relational Components, Taxonomy, Meaning Shift, Matrilineal Descent, Patrilineal Descent, Unilineal Descent, Blood Relations, Nephew/Niece, Aunt/Uncle, Nwanne, Nwannadi, Nwokei/Nwa-ada

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 6, Issue 7, pp.39-50. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.393MB).

Prof. Mabel Osakwe

Professor of English Language, Department of English and Literary Studies, Faculty of Arts, Delta State University, Abraka, Delta State, Nigeria

Mabel Osakwe is a professor of English Language, Department of English and Literary Studies, Delta State University, Abraka–Nigeria. She was pioneer Head of her Department and served both in the University Senate and Council. Born on 5th November 1951, she qualified to study English at Ibadan with an advanced level certificate from the University of London. In addition to a B.A. Hons degree from the University of Ibadan, she holds M.A. degrees in English Language. An addition M.Ed degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Temple University U.S.A. further equipped her for a stable academic career. She teaches courses in syntax, semantics, phonology, stylistics, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics and other applied linguistics. She has published nationally and internationally in those areas of interest. Arising from recent interest in women studies and the millennium development goals papers on the use of communication as tool for wealth creation and activating language policies for women empowerment have been authored by her. Her publications in linguostylistics, have demonstrated multidisciplinary aspects of English Linguistics in exploring meaning in Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka’s poetry of English expression: ‘A Linguistic Guide to Soyinka’s Idanre…’ ‘The Language of A Shuttle…’ and ‘Poetrymate’ are authored by her.


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