Igbo endearment terms: In-group identity construction in selected novels by Achebe and Adichie

  • Romanus Aboh
  • Esther Igwanyi


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.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2305-1159
print ISSN: 0257-2117