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CULTURAL INFLUENCE ON LANGUAGE
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The existence of taboo and sexism in Ohaozara dialect have be established. It is in the area of describing how culture influences language that constitutes issues of discuss in this research work. This work serves as an insight into the behaviour of language as it is bend, controlled and molded by the culture of Ohaozara people. Culture as a crucial part of human life is the shared patterns of behaviours and interaction, cognitive, constructive and affective understanding that are learned through a process of socialization. These shared pattern identify the members of a culture group while also distinguishing those of another group and since language is peculiar to the speakers hence the variation of Ohaozara dialect, in gender and age as it is been influence by the culture of the people, therefore distinguishing those of Ohaozara people from the others. Thus a deviation from the norms of the dialect is termed a taboo. Data for the study were drawn from Ohaozara dialect. The work being a descriptive survey, adopted the simple descriptive method of analysis among others. From the data collected and analyzed the following findings were made; the study reveals the existence of culture in Ohaozara land stipulating the conduct of its members which makes it impossible or immoral for its members to commit taboo because of the penalty that awaits the offender. There are some terms that exist but are not used by women freely; the euphemistic renditions for items are derived from panegyric names coined by special old men for public usage, women do not address such words plainly in the presences of the men. Thus we recommend that the study of socio linguistics should go beyond teaching only linguistic students to even secondary schools and other departments in every institutions because of its importance on our culture and our immediate society.
1.0 Background of the Study
Generally, language is a distinctive code of communication. Language according to Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English is a system of communication by written or spoken words which is used by the people of a particular country or area. Agbedo (2003) puts it that language is the pivot on which all human activities, ranging from the most prosaic to the most profound revolve. What he meant is that language touches the entire aspect of an individual’s life
Language provides the unique medium through which the belief system, world view, moral values and virtually all the basic ingredients of any given society are passed on from generation to generation.
Every society has a set of values and norms that governs the behaviour of the members and their languages and as well ensure peace and order in the society. These values and norms are cultural to the people. Culture which is the people’s way of life provides order and guidance for social behaviour and stability among changes.
Ohaozara Community in Ohaozara Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, has a unique and rich cultural heritage which direct and guide the life and language of Ohaozara people. Culture influence on the people of Ohaozara can be appreciated in the tradition of the people’s taboos as moral restraints. This is because their ancestors are too religious.
The people of Ohaozara believe that the custodian of morality and the ancestors as the agents of maintaining the moral laws is the earth goddess “Ala”. The moral codes make known the do’s and don’ts of the community. The don’ts are known as the “taboos or “Nso ala” by the people.
There are things that are forbidden by the Ohaozara people. Therefore the community hates and frowns at those things in order to live peacefully among the community members.
One has to seriously observe those don’ts because breaking them attracts punishments from the earth goddess and their cohorts.
1.1 Historical and Geographical Background of the Study
The area of study is Ohaozara. It is a Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, Nigeria. Its headquarter is in the town of Obiozara, Uburu. It has other towns like Ugwulangwu, Uburu, Okposi in the Local Government Area. It is located at the South East of Abakaliki. It has an area of 312 km and a population of 148, 626 as of the 2006 census.
The most striking physical feature of Ohaozara is the Okposi and Uburu salt lake.
For a living, the Ohaozara have two major occupations; farming (which is strictly reserved for the men), and salt production (which is under proscription in favour of the women) in the past, these two occupations made Ohaozara self-supporting and contented.
It is obvious from the position of the town that her alluvial soils would be rich. Yam farming, became so highly developed that a piece of land was under cultivation every year. Five months after yams are harvested, the land was cleared for planting the alternative crop-cocoyam. Nowadays, it is cassava that is alternated with yams. This attachment to yams continues now in spite of a boost in rich farming.
Salt production has supplemented Ohaozara economics since that discovery of the so-called salt lakes by two hunters, Ekuma Chita and Uta Ano. Since then, the women have produced salt by a process beyond the scope of this work.
Biafran Scientists who made use of the brine found that the salinity is the highest in the South Eastern Nigeria geographical zone.
Historically, the origin of Ohaozara is traced to the natural forces or deities “Chi” otherwise known as Ochangene” (dazzling light) or “Ope” (giver) who is too remote to be petitioned directly. He is sometimes individuated but his supremacy is still maintained by the fact that he is believed to see everything, though very far away. There is however a shrine known as “Evivie” or “Chineze” which approximates the ark of covenant. It is owned communally by an extended family whose eldest male becomes the chief priest. This shrine never touches ground. There must always be a glow of light where it is kept. During a yearly communion (compulsory for all male members), it is brought down, placed on some logs and sacrifices are made unto it.
They believe in the earth goddess called “Ani” whose totem is Aka”, a particularly harmless green snake. They also believed custodians of the social laws.
Their belief in the Supreme God does not exclude worship of other gods and the veneration of ancestors. The people are very hospitable but can also employ offenders a lesson; the punishment for offenders range from capital punishment and excommunications to withdrawal of privileges, through these measures, the people of Ohaozara enforce law and order and maintain peaceful co existence in the villages where they have built family compound and individual houses.
1.2 Statement of Problem
Taboos are general concept in Ohaozara Language which have existed side by side even with Ohaozara Traditional Custodians.
It is therefore worthy to note that these taboo expressions have a lot of negative implications on the people and thereby adding to their problems.
The following are some of these problems posed by taboo expressions.
The culture will be hampered. This is because one of the integral aspects of culture is language and Ohaozara culture, just as every other cultures of Igbo land, forbids unpleasant expressions.
Immorality which has a close link with corruption will be breakdown of law and order in the area.
The continuous existence of unpleasant expressions which is regarded as taboo is capable of creating a generational problem. This is because the behaviours of any society or people are passed on from generation to generation.
1.3 Purpose of Study
The purpose of this study is to find out the “taboos” in existence in Ohaozara land and know how it influences the language and even the people in the community. When they are established, then determine the magnitude and having determined the magnitude, then enlighten the community on the measuring of taboo and the consequences of insolating them.
1.4 Scope and Limitation of Study
The fact that this research work is not meant to cover a very wide area of the country or world but just a limited concentration in Ohaozara land makes it limited in scope.
The study covers the taboos as found in the language and tradition of the people, they are discussed under the following subtitles; types of taboos in Ohaozara Language and their functions and Western influence on them.
1.5 Research Question
To keep the study focused and serve as beacon, the following questions have been formulated.
(1) To what extent does culture influences language in Ohaozara dialect?
(2) In what degree is there a variation in speech as regards to gender/sexism in Ohaozara dialect?
(3) To what extent does Ohaozara cultural influence on language corresponds to that of Igbo culture in general?
1.6 Significance of Study
Taboos played significant and positive roles in Ohaozara culture. There provide a set of rules serving as a moral guidance or a law in the community to ensure that peace and security were present in the community.
Taboos serves as a guardian of moral values to the society. It is an effective system of preserving and transmitting moral values, keeping mind that Ohaozara culture was an oral one. They were a means of social control and without them there would be chaos: The motivation for abiding by the normative principles are provided and reinforced by the religious sanctions from the gods and the ancestors or directly from the supreme being.
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