Honorifics and humilifics in Ngwa-Igbo: A socio-semantic analysis
Keywords:Competence, ethnography, honorifics, humilifics, semantics.
The word honorifics refers to titles, behaviours and material objects that designate the dignifying status of a person. Honorifics contrast with humilifics, which downgrade the social status of the person that such words, acts, or objects designate. The objectives of this paper are to give a typology of honorifics and humilifics in Ngwa-Igbo and to demonstrate the socio-semantic import of their use in Ngwaland. The method of data collection for this paper is elicitation, where information is collated by consulting four elderly persons of the age range of sixty to seventy years by the researcher. The framework for the analysis of data in this paper is Ethnography of Communication. Some of the findings of this paper are: that honorifics and humilifics are part of the linguistic repertoire of the Ngwa-Igbo dialect, that a neglect to use the appropriate title for a person in Ngwa is seriously frowned at, that the type of honorific or humilific expression, act or object used for a person reflects the honour or dis-honour accorded to the addressee, that some honorifics in Ngwa reflect the sex of the person spoken to or talked about and that honorifics and humilifics can be
expressed verbally, behavourally and materially.
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