A syntactic analysis of Olu Obafemi's song of hope and only hope persists

  • OK Olaniyi
Keywords: Argument positions, X-bar syntax, Theta roles, Semantic roles, Syntactic meaning, Nominal Group, Verb Group, Agent, Experiencer

Abstract

This article interprets the meanings embedded in two selected poems from Olu Obafemi's anthology. The purpose is to use syntactic knowledge to appreciate how structural arrangements of lexical items in poems obviate the obscurities in figurations. The two poems 'Song of Hope' and 'Only Hope Persists' capture the state of affairs in Nigeria. The poems are a lamentation of the indigent Nigerians who are being under-fed while the politicians, their malefactors over-feed. These politicians horrendously keep the gap between them and the helpless poor wide. Chomsky's (1986) postulations of semantic roles affirm that arguments relate to predicates and determine the range of expressions which fulfill argument functions. This submission forms the tool for the analysis of the selected poems. The analyses reveal that meaning is made when the elements in clause structure relate. The argument positions inter-play with the semantic properties of the verb to assign roles in the structure. All these relationships result in the overall meaning embedded in the lines of the poem analyzed in this study. As aesthetic and stylistic as the use of language appears in these poems, there is a bias for both the information and the syntactic forms. Hence, the poet balances conformity and non-conformity to conventional syntactic rule.

Keywords: Argument positions, X-bar syntax, Theta roles, Semantic roles, Syntactic meaning, Nominal Group, Verb Group, Agent, Experiencer

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