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1.1 Background to the Study

The use of language is one of the most distinctive characteristics of the human species. Language is important to stylistics because it is a tool which obeys certain structural laws and which adapts itself to the requirement of the task for which it is used. It lends itself to creative manipulations that capture the changing dynamics of the society and the diverse linguistic needs of a writer, a set of systems from which he could make a choice to express his ideas. One major function of language is that it can easily lend itself to manipulative tools that can be used to condition people’s thoughts. It is language that is used to bring out the literary aesthetics of any creative work of literature. Word makes language and some words combine to deviate from the norm of language thereby attracting hearers’ and readers’ attention. This is mostly done in literature. One major way of relating language to literature is through stylistics.                  

Literature has often been conceived as a mirror of the society, as a reflection of life.  Events in the society are the raw materials which are utilized by the literary artists in the writing of their texts. Literature is anchored in a particular moment of time while the writer is a product of his environment. This is achieved through the use of language, which is mostly used in an unusual way or as a deviation from the norm of language use. Literature derives its creativity from language and this can be seen through stylistics which is a method of textual interpretation in which primacy of place is assigned to language.

Viewing style from different perspectives, one can conceive of style as the individual. This means no two writers can write exactly the same way; so each writer has a particular style of writing that is peculiar to him. Adichie has been acclaimed for her literary works due to her peculiarity in language use in passing across her massage of reconstructing society. This study, therefore, seeks to investigate the use of language in Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus from a stylistic approach.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Scholarly studies on Adichie have attracted increasing interests in the literature in recent times, given her recognition as the new voice of Nigerian literature, who has already gained a measure of success that eludes many writers both within and outside Africa. Scholarship on Adiche’s works has generally shuttled between literature and linguistics. While studies from the literary perspective have generally dealt with the investigation of language as an aid to plot advancement, character presentation, thematic projection, and aesthetic achievement in her works, those from the linguistic angle have been limited to the investigation of the stylistic resources harnessed to realize her works.

This study, therefore, engages in the analysis of the morpho-syntactic features that characterize Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus in her use of language for communicative purpose.

1.3 Aim and Objectives of the Study

The aim of this study is to analyze the morpho-syntactic features of Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus, with the objectives of:

i. carrying out a stylistic analysis of the text.

ii. discussing the morphological features in the text.

iii. highlighting the syntactic features of the text.

iii. examining the graphological features that foreground meaning in the text.

1.4 Delimitation of Study

This research comes under the purview of stylistics. Indeed, it may be daunting to try to attempt a stylistic analysis using all the checklists or aspects available in the literatures. This study will, therefore, be limited to such aspects as the morpho-syntactic features that characterize the writer’s linguistic choices, and the graphological patterns that foreground meaning in the text. 

1.5 Methodology                                                                                                

1.5.1 Research Design

The study uses Content Analysis with focus on Stylistic Analysis approach in describing the use of language in Purple Hibiscus. In describing the morpho-syntactic features of the text, the study adopts Leech and Shorts’ checklists of stylistic analysis in the interpretation of the text because of its comprehensive nature. Thus, the morphological processes and the syntactic features in the text shall be identified and their function and signification to the overall interpretation of the text (i.e. foreground meaning) are described.                                                    The entire text has a total of 310 pages but the analysis shall be based on randomly selected pages where the necessary identified stylistic features abound; thus, the purposive random sampling technique will be adopted for this study. Library research will prove useful here as linguistic textbooks, journal articles and other useful sources of information on stylistics from the internet will be consulted.

1.5.2 Sources of Data

The data for this study is Adichie’s novel, Purple Hibiscus obtained from the bookshop around the University of Abuja. The data will include lexical items, utterances and graphic features that can be stylistically analysed to foreground meaning in the text. The secondary sources of information are materials from library textbooks, journals and the internet.

1.5.3 Data Analysis Technique

The data analysis technique is descriptive analysis of the morpho-syntactic features that foreground meaning in Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus. This study examines such aspects as the morpho-syntactic features that characterize the writer’s linguistic choices like word-compounding, clipping, blendings, loan words; syntactic violations, deviations, etc.

Under the morphological features, the process of word formation used by the writer which communicates special (stylistic) meanings to the interpretation of the text is discussed. The syntactic features of the text such as the phrasal, clausal and sentential types which enhance meaning are described.

1.6 Limitation of the Study

It is not every word in the text that will be used for analysis. Only those that reflect the researcher’s intention will be considered for analysis. The findings from this study may not be used to generalize Adichie’s writing style especially regarding other texts by the same author. Also, this study is constrained due to limitations in time resources.

1.7 Significance of the Study

This study is significant for the following reasons:

i. The study is a revelation of the patterns and features of language use in Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus, especially in describing the morpho-syntactic features that underlie her linguistic choices and their relevance to the interpretation of the text.

ii. The research highlights the graphological patterns that help to foreground meaning in the text. These graphic elements that serve as visual aids to the encoding and decoding of the meaning of the language of the text are discussed.

iii. Also, the study shows that there is a semantic link or bond between linguistic elements and the visual or graphological elements used in the text, as both complement each other to decode meaning and interpretation. The study exposes the graphic patterns deployed in Adichie’s text to show their communicative or stylistic value as elements of foregrounding.

iv. Since stylistics cuts across both linguistic and literary fields, students, teachers and future researchers will benefit from this study in describing the linguistic aesthetics of Adichie’s writings, especially with regard to the morpho-syntactic features and graphological patterns that characterize her use of language. As such, the study is relevant as source materials for any literature review on Adichie.

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