Yoruba Oriki in English: Rhythm Analysis of Niyi Osundare's ‘Harvestcall’

  • BO Sogunro


Rhythm is one major component that distinguishes poetry from prose, even in written forms. Being inherently based on rhyme, the indigenous sense and sound of oral poetry may be difficult to convey in written English. This study, therefore, investigated the prosody of Niyi Osundare‟s “Harvestcall”, a praise poem from his international award winning collection based on oral Yoruba Oriki structure but written in English, in order to determine how the blend of phonological features of the two different languages is achieved. A stylistic analysis was carried out on phonological features: stress and syllable counts to identify the rhythmic norm, patterns of the sound units, ensuing structure and the interaction between form and meaning. A Yoruba bard (Ewi expert), accompanied by Bata drums was also engaged to render the verse which was recorded on audio tape. Results showed that „the rhythm of „Harvestcall‟ is not dependent on metrical-foot repetition but on syntactic juncture and multiple contour patterns. The paper concluded that Osundare‟s in-depth knowledge of indigenous oral performance norms with the adroit use of lexico-semantic and syntactic features of English have enabled the effective conversion of Yoruba Oriki to written English.

Key words: rhythmic norm, oral poetry, oriki, prosody, stylistics, ascending and descending


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2070-0083
print ISSN: 1994-9057