The Poetic Formulae of the Language of the Somali Proverb and How It Helps Communicate Messages

Aden Muktar Haji


The study investigates the stylistic devices used in communicating messages in the Somali proverb. Several features including: Register, Imagery, Sound effects and Rhetorical devices were discussed. In addition, the study identifies the relationship between the poetic devices that the Somali proverb utilises and the effective delivery of its message. The main proposition of the study is that there is a close link between the oral poetic composition of the proverb and the community’s perception of the message. The study reveals that, in the Somali context, the performance of the proverb derives directly from the people’s way of life and their everyday experiences in their nomadic, pastoral activities.Based on material collected through field research from the Somalis in Garissa, Wajir and Mandera counties in Kenya and the lower Juba region in Somalia, the study endeavours to interpret the messages of the proverb from the point of view of the people who perform it and among whom it is performed. Twenty four (24) male respondents and eighteen (18) females who were considered opinion shapers were interviewed. Fifty nine (59) proverbs were collected but thirty nine (39) were analysed.  The study adopts a combined reader-response and author-oriented theoretical framework to analyse the language usage of the proverb. It suggests that the community response to the proverb is closely related to the stylistic devices used.

Keywords: Proverb, Device, Somali, Style

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