Chinua Achebe’s Linguistic Strategies for Cultural Appropriation in Things Fall Apart

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Asjad Mehmood, Dr. Samina Ali Asghar, Samina Yasmin, Nusrat Sultana


          This research paper uses Bill Ashcroft’s model of appropriation to investigate Chinua Achebe’s linguistic strategies for postcolonial appropriation in Things Fall Apart. Ashcroft’s linguistic model of appropriation comprises glossing, untranslated words, interlanguage, code-switching and vernacular transcription. Ashcroft considers appropriation a more effective tool for postcolonial resistance than resistance through ‘pugnacious oratory’ and war. This paper explores how Achebe applies these strategies in Things Fall Apart from his own postcolonial Nigerian perspective to glorify Igbo culture and Igbo language. He appropriates the language of the powerful to redefine his native culture tagged as primitive and uncivilized by the west. He deliberately selects English to enhance the reach of his message that every culture has its own norms and standards that people celebrate. He employs a great deal of Igbo vocabulary, oral tradition, native mythology and Igbo syntax in the novel for representation. By frequent and repetitive use of his Igbo vocabulary, he strengthens the impression of his language and culture in the readers’ minds. Achebe has successfully appropriated English language for representation of Igbo culture to the modern western audience and the world at large. The research is important as it provides an insight into the vocabulary, syntax and linguistic patterns of Things Fall Apart and explores Achebe’s strong nativist implications and purpose behind such implications.

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