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Discourse analysis on Buchi Emecheta's The Slave Girl

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par Emard Brice LIKIBI
Marien NGOUABI - CAPES 2008

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2. Emotive function.

Emotive is an adjective which derives from emotion which comprises in everyday language terms of feelings and passion. In other terms, it is a temporary trouble caused by an intensive feeling of joy, fear, sadness and so on. And emotive function can be defined as the way characters, the narrator, or the author, express their thoughts, feelings, in a given literary genre. That lets the reader handle and explain their emotions. The passage below from Raman Selden (1988: 165) suggests

After the seventeenth century the terms `emotions', passion', and `feeling' become gradually more complex in their connotations and usage as they are moulded by different psychological theories. `Emotion' usually conveys either the poet's experiment of an inner state of mind and body, or the reader's experiencing of the original expression. `Feeling' in Romantic usage, often alludes to the organic state of bodily emotion, pleasing or painful, which accompanies perception.

In general, emotion refers to the inner state and the physical attitudes which are translated by interjections, exclamations, and to some extend monologues in The Slave Girl.

2.1. Interjections

Interjections are lexical items which express a feeling, a command, and a state of thought. They are characterized by words like `chut', `oh', eh', ah. Therefore, they concern words which express affective state of the speaker. Actually, some interjections in The Slave Girl are found in connoting different meanings. They are used, in fact, for different purposes.

In this novel, Female characters use different interjections to express their feelings or emotions. So, the following Ma Palagada's utterances are the perfect illustration: «Oh, oh - have you been waiting for me long?» (Buchi Emecheta, 1997: 52). This passage shows that Ma Palagada is surprised to see Okolie waiting for her. Besides, the modal interjection «oh, oh» refers here to sympathy. It is also the way of welcoming visitors.

Interjections are pulled out to express also despair or regret as evidenced in this quotation: «Ah, ah!» the other girls gasped, for to them Pa Palagada meant big punishment» (Buchi Emecheta, 1977: 71). It is obvious that a male character would have reacted differently from a female one. In the second instance, Okolie pulls out an interjection before conveying the meaning when he is first received by Ma Palagada'


«Are you sure from Ogbaru?»

«Oh, no, he is from the bush somewhere.» (Buchi Emecheta, 1977: 74)

As it can be seen, the interjection «oh» shows that the speaker is a bit annoyed because she did not expect such a question. Besides, we remark from this conversation the irony sentence 'he is from the bush somewhere». Thus, we can say also that Okolie could hide his feelings because this modal interjection came out involuntarily.

Buchi Emecheta uses some interactions to answer questions. Surprised to notify that there are also kind people in Ibuza, Ojebeta asks an indirect question to Angelina Ifenkili. And she answers by using an interjection at the very of his utterances to prove her sympathy:

«I don't know we had such people in our town.» Said Ojebeta.

«Oh, yes, we do. [...] I'd like to go to olu oyibo too, to get away from this place.» (Buchi emecheta, 1977: 161)

Interjections are also used in The Slave Girl to express characters' sorrow

«Oh, you will find plenty to do. Your people bring gallons at palm oil to out to sell.» (Buchi Emecheta, 1977: 146)

Some interjections referring to emotive function are used to insist on characters' sayings or to emphasize on questions as in the following passage:

«What were you shouting for like that, eh? Were you hungry? Didn't you know where your brother was, eh? So why were you shouting, eh?» (Buchi Emecheta, 1977: 71)

Evidently, the word «eh» is an interjection mostly used in Bantu languages. It is placed at the end of the sentence to mark insistence on a request, a command, and a begging. But this interjection uttered in many places of this passage implies Ma Palagada's distress towards her 'slave'.

Additionally, interjections are used to express characters' pity or sorrow. Being left with Ma Palagada and other 'slaves', Ojebeta could not manage to stay without her brother. That leads her try to run away, but in vain. To express her pity, Ojebeta, puts out an interjection: «Oh, my mother, I am lost» (Buchi Emecheta, 1977: 59). After the succinct analysis of emotive function through interjections, we turn on examining it throughout exclamations.

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