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This study is a lexico-semantic analysis of Half of a Yellow Sun (ọkara nke a odo anyanwụ).The aim of this study is to identify the organization and breakdown of detected lexical items, the differences and similarities in lexical semantic structure cross-linguistically and the relationship of lexical meaning to sentence meaning and syntax in HOAYS. Achieving this may be a feat of insurmountable tete a tete analysis using some debuting or re-appearing tools in the entire cologne Adichie had confidently portrayed in this novel. Comprehensive but more scrupulous reviews related to this feat/study was also visualized and acquired for the less supplemented but well nourished desire to set this study’s aim ablaze. This study had chosen HOAYS since not much had really been done towards the Lexico-semantic analysis of Adichie’s award winning novel. Some candid chapters were randomly analyzed using contextual sentences or phrases to portray Adichie’s narrative. At the end, the predominant devices found out to be used by Chimamanda are Compound sentences followed by Compound-complex sentences, Parenthetical expression, Italics, Transliteration and Code-mixing. It is then recommended that other young writers should adopt Chimamanda’s style since it improves the vigour of one’s writing. However, the style of a writer albeit creative may pose a challenge to readers. This study attempts a linguistic stylistic analysis of Chimamanda Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun with the aim of identifying some of the linguistic features the writer used and to understand the cultural and historical ideology behind the texts as well as appreciating her style.

Language in its complex form has been a guiding tool or a convention structure used to interact or present suggestions and verbal expression of one’s mind. There are vehemently several ways one would and could express his/her ideals and ideas either using sounds, symbols as long as they are accepted as a Language form by those at the receiving end (other speakers and language users).

According to Lyons,  Languages are: ‘The principal systems of communication used by particular groups of human beings within the particular society (Linguistic community) of which they are members’. Language, however, as a sole inheritance of humans have been used in so many ways in our society hence the delving of analysis of reputable and upcoming linguists into the analysis of the complexity of language(s) such as morphology, semantics, phonology, domestic discourse (dodi) and syntax as well as their employed uses (e.g Kakava, 2000; Odebunmi, 2003; Odebunmi, 2006; Odebunmi, 2007; Oni and Osunbade, 2009; Wallace, 2012).

Lexical semantics (also known as lexicosemantics), is a subfield of linguistic semantics. The units of analysis in lexical semantics are lexical units which include not only words but also sub-words or sub-units such as affixes and even compound words and phrases. Lexical units make up the catalogue of words in a language, the lexicon. Lexical semantics looks at how the meaning of the lexical units correlates with the structure of the language or syntax. This is referred to as syntax-semantic interface (Pustejovsky, 1995).

The study of lexical semantics looks at:

●        the classification and decomposition of lexical items

●        the differences and similarities in lexical semantic structures cross-linguistically

●        the relationship of lexical meaning to sentence meaning and syntax.

Lexical items contain information about category (lexical and syntactic), form and meaning. The semantics related to these categories then relate to each lexical item in the lexicon (Loos et al., 2004) Lexical items can also be semantically classified based on whether their meanings are derived from single lexical units or from their surrounding environment. However, Leech and Short’s (2007) analytical checklist is used to breakdown randomly selected stylistic features into three categories, lexical, grammatical and context.

Lexical items participate in regular patterns of association with each other. Some relations between lexical items include hyponymy, hypernymy, synonymy and antonymy, as well as homonymy.

Hyponymy and hypernymy

Hyponymy and hypernymy refers to a relationship between a general term and the more specific terms that fall under the category of the general term. For example, the colors red, green, blue and yellow are hyponyms. They fall under the general term of color, which is the hypernym. Lexical units, also referred to as syntactic atoms, can stand alone such as in the case of root words or parts of compound words or they necessarily attach to other units such as prefixes and suffixes do. The former are called free morphemes and the latter bound morphemes (Di Sciullo and Williams, 1987). They fall into a narrow range of meanings (semantic fields) and can combine with each other to generate new meanings. This study connects the dots into investigating inherent and available comprehension to dodias well as a lexico-semantic discus as a form of narrative indeed to comparatively highlight the daily interactive activities of the everyday family sceneries, in Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun(NB: We use HYS).

Our choice of Adichie is motivated by a number of factors. Apart from being the new voice of Nigerian literature whose novels have attracted several awards, especially in the contemporary literary scene (suggesting that she is an embodiment of intellectualism who has gained a measure of success that eludes many writers), there is a close relationship between her writing and her world, her society and life (see Adebayo 1995: 64); and her works bear relevance to the espousal of the domestic experiences of the characters among other significant issues that the novels mirror in the depiction of the totality of people’s experiences in the post-colonial Nigeria.

This study data consisted of interactive dialogue between randomly selected casts/characters from the selected text (HYS). Some of the domestic discourses in the novels were sampled and analyzed for occurrences of implicatures, using insights from Gricean Pragmatics. Apart from enhancing a better understanding of implicit meanings of conversational discourse in the texts, the study is also significant for shifting literature on pragmatics forward, and providing a new theoretical insight into the interpretation and understanding of contemporary African fiction.

The graphic representation of sounds (speech sounds) on paper is called writing. Writing is done in different ways for various purposes and by different people. It is because of this that the study of stylistics as well as the lexical semantics becomes necessary and an important area to both linguists and critics. According to Syal and Jindal (2010), “Stylistics is that branch of linguistics which takes the language of literary texts as its object of study”. Stylistics is the study of various styles used in literary and non – literary texts which distinguishes the uniqueness of a writer from another. Style is a pattern of linguistic features that distinguish a piece of writing from another; it also distinguishes the personality of an author from another. No wonder the French scholar Buffon said “Style is the Man”. Syal and Jindal (2010) opined that:

Out of the many types of variations that occur in language, it is the variation in literary style that is most complex, and thus offers unlimited scope for linguistic analysis.

Stylistics is very important in Literature because each literary text represents an individual’s use of language which reflects his unique personality, thoughts and style. The study of literary styles shows the linguistics repertoire of a writer. We often hear of the style of Armah; the style of Milton and the simplicity that is associated with Wordsworth. Stylistics looks at the choice of words, the sentence patterns and figurative usage of words by a writer. Figurative expressions which are sometimes called “Rhetorical Expression” helps a writer to be vivid in his description of events and ideas.

●        According to Ezugu (2011), Figures of speech, sometimes called “rhetorical” figures are expressions, phrases or words used to convey more than their ordinary literal meaning. These figures, if properly used, not only enrich but strengthen and give life to our writing. Some of the features used in a achieving style include:

●        Diction, figurative usage and various sentence structures such as:

●        Parenthetical Expressions: These are words, clauses or even another sentence inserted at the middle or end of a sentence such as after thoughts.

●        Compound Sentence: A compound sentence is one which consists of three or more simple sentences joined together by a coordinating conjunction or semi – colon.

●        Complex Sentence: A complex sentence consists of two parts; the main clause and one or more subordinate clauses.

●        Compound complex sentence: This consists of two or more main clauses and one or more subordinate clause.

●        Other features of style include:

●        Graphology: The analysis of hand writing to interpret character and personality. Aspects of which are “Italics, Bold sentence” and capitalization”.

●        Code Switching: A system of switching from one linguistic code to another.

●        Code – Mixing: A systematic way of mixing two or more linguistics codes in an utterance or writing.

●        Transliteration: This is the literal translation of the syntatical structure of a language into another language

Although many works have been done on stylistics, little work has been done on lexico-semantic style used in Chimamanda Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun which was published in 2006. Most of the works done were based on general analysis of how her works reflect the realities of the society.

This study aims at an identification of the predominant lexico-seminar analysis devices used in Chimamanda Adichie’s HOAYS and the effect these devices have in the overall evaluation of the novel. This study will enable readers identify the predominant stylistic devices used by Chimamanda Adichie in her novel HOAYS as well as the effect achieved by the use of these devices. The study will, in addition, encourage writers to adopt the style of Chimamanda Adichie in their writing. Finally, it will provide materials for researchers in this field. This investigation is limited to an analysis of the predominant lexico-semantic stylistic devices employed in Chimamanda Adichie’s novel HOAYS. The novel comprises four parts namely: PART ONE: The Early Sixties; PART TWO: The Late Sixties; Part Three: The Early Sixties’ PART FOUR: The late sixties. These four parts are made up of a total number of the thirty seven (37) chapters but this study has randomly selected dictions form random chapters for analysis. The study analysis is restricted to such stylistic devices as compound sentences; compound complex sentences, italics, code – mixing, parenthetical expression and transliteration which the researcher encountered several times in the course of reading the novel.


The following are some of the stylistic devices used by Adichie in HOAYS to capture the activities in this text.






Shiny, radiant, glossy gleaming, shimmering, glistening, sparkly, glittery, etc


pleasantly warm/gentle

Mild, clement, pleasant, temperate, soft, supple, etc


a short journey undertaken in order to deliver or collect something, often on someone else’s behalf/duty

task, responsibility, chore, function, job, etc


 sound imposingly deep and full/loud

strident, resonant, echoing, booming, thriving, sonorous, deafening, etc


feeling or showing that something is unworthy of consideration/unconcerned

Indifferent, unconcerned, undaunted, undisturbed, etc


be or remain hidden so as to wait in ambush for someone or something/remain secretly

prowl, loiter, skulk, wait, creep around, hang about, etc


stretched or pulled tight/firm

tight, rigid, stiff, inflexible, extended, etc


speak with sudden involuntary pauses and a tendency to repeat the initial letters of words/flutter/falter

hesitate, stutter. splutter, etc


a piece of broken ceramic, metal, glass, or rock, typically having sharp edges/bits

slice, shaving, splinter, etc


feel very happy, animated, or elated/liven

elate, thrill, etc


not in harmony or keeping with the surroundings or other aspects of something/odd

Bizarre, obscure, wacky, etc


giving off bubbles, fizzy/bubbling

Bubble, gurgle, murky, etc


courteous and gallant, esp. toward women/polite

good-mannered, well-behaved, reserved, etc


prod someone gently, typically with one’s elbow, in order to draw their attention to something/attract

Bump, run into, collide, etc


come together and form one mass or whole/unite

Combine, join, unison, etc


partly male and partly female in appearance/neutral

Neutral or mid-way between, middleman


resembling, or fit for a monarch, esp. in being magnificent or dignified/royal

King, queen, emperor, empress, etc.

non sequitur

a conclusion or statement that does not logically follow from the previous argument or statement

Incongruous, unwarranted, unrelated, etc

Adichie in her HOAYS displays quite a splendid mastery of language and the art of storytelling by her serviceable and practical disposition of the three types of language style – grand/formalmiddle/informal, and low/colloquial. She further stretches her literary devices to accommodate the multi-faceted messages. She uses the appropriate language suitable for each character as occasion(s) demands/demanded. We could see the use of these three literal devices/language styles in the following; from Major Nzeogwu’s formalistic broadcast: “The constitution is suspended and the regional government and elected assemblies are hereby dissolved. My dear countrymen, the aim of the revolutionary Council is to establish a nation free from corruption and internal strife….”(123-4); through Ugwu’s informal expressions: “his people would say that Master had spit this child out” (124), “his stomach tightened; memories of those days of Amala left a difficult-to swallow lump in his throat” (353); to the use of code switching and mixing, from vernacular to pidgin, and liberal use of proverbs: “Kedu afa gi? What is your name?” (5). Examples of informal/low/colloquial expressions are: “The white men will poke and poke and poke the women in the dark but they will never marry them” (80) and “he who brings kola nut brings life. You and yours will live, and I and mine will live. Let the eagle perch and let the dove perch and, if either decrees that the other not perch, it will not be well for him.” (164) The work is rich in imagery, and such other figurative languages as personification“The fridge breathed heavily in his ears” (6), “even the grass will fight…” (171) “Port Harcourt is going crazy”(171); simile“shouting like madman” (256), “…she felt like a thief” (270), metaphors “so you will be spreading your legs for that elephant”(35); and alliteration“fine fighting form” (110), among others.


This study has carried out an investigation of the pragmatic processes by which implicit meanings of conversations conveyed are interpreted in the domestic contexts of language use in Adichie’s novel, HOAYS, within the ambit of Gricean theory of implicature. The study anchors Gricean pragmatics on a necessary recourse to the inference that hearers draw to arrive at a full understanding of what a speaker meant by an utterance, especially in those cases where what is meant goes well beyond the literal meaning of what is uttered. It then reveals that what a speaker meant in addition to what is said is therefore the extra-information conveyed dubbed implicature, which displays two dimensions in dido in the texts, namely, figurative expression with additional meaning and non-figurative expressions with additional meaning, that project the different thematic foci of Adichie in the domestic discourse in the texts. Implicatures of dido in HYS, on the other hand, thematise love, corruption and inhumanity, which are all communicated through figurative expressions, flouting the manner maxim. Tribalism is also thematised, using non-figurative expressions, with the quantity maxim being flouted.

This study on the exploration of the interaction between dido and implicit meaning in Adichie’s novel facilitates access to a context-sensitive understanding of domestic issues in the text, thereby revealing Adichie’s utilisations of pragmatic tools in espousing the domestic experiences of Nigerians and by extension, Africans, in the fictional realities she has refracted in her novels.


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (October 29, 2010). Half of a Yellow Sun. Knopf Canada. ISBN 978-0-307-37354-0.

Pustejovsky, J. (1995). The Generative Lexicon. MIT Press.

Di Sciullo, Anne-Marie; and  Williams, E. (1987). On the definition of word. Cambridge, MA: MIT press.

Loos, E.; Anderson, S.; H. Day, Jr., Dwight; Jordan, P.; Wingate, J. D. (2004) 

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