Wetin Concern Agbero with Overload? Metaphorical Mapping and Nigerian Pidgin Proverbs

Authors: Favour Olajide (Covenant University, Nigeria)
Lily Chimuanya (Covenant University, Nigeria)
Speakers: Favour Olajide, Lily Chimuanya
Topic: Anthropological Linguistics
The GLOCAL AFALA 2023 General Session


With over 120 million speakers, Nigerian Pidgin (NP) is the most-spoken creole tongue in the world (Eberhard et al, 2023). Yet, it has not received significant attention in socio-cultural studies despite its fast-rising prestige and long history – it emerged due to 15th-century contact between Europeans and coastal Nigerian traders (Elugbe and Omamor, 2007). This paper aims to address this gap by exploring the linguistic complexity and cultural significance of NP proverbs through the lens of metaphorical mapping, shedding light on the intricate interplay between indigenous Nigerian folkloric traditions, cultural values, and contemporary NP discourse. Proverbs are carriers of attitudes, beliefs, and ideologies and this study shall describe cross-domain mappings in selected NP proverbs, examining how they are shaped by context in production as well as in comprehension. Particularly, it shall explore the influence of indigenous languages on the proverb-telling culture of NP speakers. As such, the data for this study shall be sourced from real uses of NP proverbs and similar metaphorical expressions in communicative situations. Using insights from Kövecses’s (2021) Extended Conceptual Metaphor Theory, the study shall describe the contextual dimensions – situational factors, cultural backgrounds, and communicative intents – that shape the dynamic and adaptive nature of metaphor production in NP discourse. Ultimately, it shall argue that Nigerian English, despite its lexifier being English, maintains strong ties to indigenous Nigerian folkloric traditions and values via proverbial sayings, both in their structure and usage. The findings of this research will be valuable not only to linguists and cultural researchers but also to educators, policymakers, and language preservationists, providing insights into the profound cultural significance and linguistic depth of NP proverbs.

Elugbe, B. O., & Omamor, A. P. (2007). Nigerian Pidgin: Background and Prospects. Heinemann Educational Books.
Eberhard, D. M., Simons, G. F., & Fenning, C. D. (Eds.). (2023). Ethnologue: Languages of the World (26th ed.). SIL International.
Kövecses, Z. (2021). Standard and Extended Conceptual Metaphor Theory. In X. Wen & J. R. Taylor (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics (pp. 191–203). Routledge.

Keywords: Nigerian Pidgin, proverbs, metaphor, conceptual metaphors, cultural studies, social psychology, discourse analysis.