The Dynamics of Voice Qualifiers in Discourse: Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus

  • OS Akujobi
Keywords: Voice qualifiers, Discourse, Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus


Voice qualifiers play complementary roles to speech in the comprehension of messages in a discourse. They elicit various emotions, attitudes and dispositions of the speaker in a communicative environment. Voice qualifiers are the most understudied elements of human discourse. Humans can phonate on and off, and can equally raise or lower their pitches. By the sound of the voice we can differentiate when somebody is happy, threatened or frightened. Humans can consciously control their discourse by their voluntary laryngeal control. Purple Hibiscus is replete with voice qualifiers, which helped in creating clearer meanings in the text and showcased the decisive need of voice qualifiers in discourse. For effective communication, it is imperative that conversationalists understand and master these key interactive techniques. The study investigates some of the workings of voice qualifiers such as pitch, rate and tone in discourse using Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus as a model; based on Poyatos concept of voice qualifiers and Ferdinand de Saussure’s Semiotic Theory. The study showed that paralinguistic voice qualifiers influence discourse by using qualifiers like: ‘Eh?’, ‘Oh?’ and ‘gbo’. These indicated emotional questioning, which deepens the meanings of questions that are being asked, to indicate that the sender of the message demands an answer. Tremulous voice indicated nervousness and being overwhelmed by emotion. Whispery voice indicated secrecy. It is therefore recommended inter alia that language users should learn to adopt the right use of voice qualifiers, to reduce ambiguity in discourse.

Keywords: Voice qualifiers, Discourse, Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2227-5460
print ISSN: 2225-8604