Igbo endearment terms: In-group identity construction in selected novels by Achebe and Adichie
The continuing and increasing interest in the study of identities in the humanities and the social sciences since the turn of the twenty-first century points to the significance of the subject matter in human evolution. Against such a significant backdrop, we scrutinise the symbolic parallel between the use of endearment terms and the construction of identities in the works of two prominent Nigerian novelists – Chinua Achebe and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Despite studies on their respective novels, extensive studies on how these Nigerian novelists deploy linguistic resources to enunciate in-group identity are still inadequate. Using social constructionism and literary pragmatics as our theoretical point of reference, we contend that these novelists’ use of Igbo endearment terms function as a linguistic means by which in-group identities are constructed, drawing our data from four of the authors’ novels: Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and Anthills of the Savannah and Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus and Half of a Yellow Sun. Our critical and textual analysis reveals that the use of Igbo endearment terms are strategies for illuminating how literary characters use language in socio-discursive encounters to enact and re-enact as well as maintain their belonging to or membership of a group.