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Implicatures of political discourse in Chimamanda Adichie's novels.


Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie's literary texts, like those of the older generation of African writers such as Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, etc. reflect and embody the way of life of Africans. Of course, literature is always a reflection of its enabling society; the writer lives in a society and takes his/her ideas, characters and situations from that society. He/she then imaginatively writes about the individuals who inhabit the society, as well as about events which happen in that society, using the tool of language. Literature thus becomes a vehicle through which the historical and sociopolitical conditions of its society are depicted.

The study of language use in Adichie's literary texts, especially to generate meaning has attracted increasing interest in linguistic scholarship in recent times. Studies have thus concentrated on characterization, thematisation, stylistic and pragmatic features of her prose texts, given that "the novel is the dominant genre of literature, which has been largely accorded a deserved primacy by writers in the documentation of the political and social experiences of Africans" (cf. Agho 1995: 23, Kehinde 2005:88). While pragmatic studies of her texts have examined explicit meaning in Purple Hibiscus (see Osunbade 2009), very little attention has been paid to the contextual examination of implicit meanings of her thematic foci. This study, therefore, carries out a pragmatic investigation of implicatures of political discourse in Adichie's Purple Hibiscus (henceforth PH) and Half of a Yellow Sun (henceforth HYS), to determine how language is deployed to facilitate access to her thematic concerns.

My choice of Adichie is motivated by a number of factors. Apart from being the new voice of Nigerian literature whose novels have attracted several awards, especially in the contemporary literary scene (suggesting that she has gained a measure of success that eludes many writers), there is a close relationship between her writing and her world, her society and life (see Adebayo 1995: 64); and her works bear relevance to the espousal of political issues in the post-colonial Nigeria.

My data consists of politics-related conversations from the selected texts (i.e. PH and HYS). All the political discourses in the novels are sampled and analysed for occurrences of implicatures, using insights from Gricean Pragmatics, towards: enhancing a better understanding of the texts, shifting literature on pragmatics forward, and providing a new theoretical insight into the interpretation and understanding of contemporary African fiction.

Studies on African Prose Fiction and Summary of Texts

In Nigeria, the study of the use of language in prose text, which is my concern in this article, has largely dwelled on the texts of the older generation of writers such as Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, etc, especially with consideration for the different style features that can aid character presentation and help the author to achieve some stylistic effects in the texts. Interestingly, recent literature has demonstrated that--as in the works of the older generation of literary writers--the younger generation of Nigerian writers (which includes Adichie) equally exhibits a careful manipulation of linguistic resources to aptly express the "civilizing function which literature performs.... by dealing with the African image in the past or the politics of the present" (Izevbaye 1979:14). It is necessary to cursorily consider scholarly submissions on prose literature generally as well as on studies on Adichie's works specifically, to determine what scholarly attentions on prose literature have been concerned with on the one hand, and the extent of work done on Adichie's fictional writings on the other.

Examining the tragic conflict in Achebe's novels using Things Fall Apart, No Longer at Ease, and Arrow of God, Irele (1973) contends that the immediate subject of Achebe's novels is the tragic consequences of the African encounter with Europe, while Fashina's (2006) is an examination of the language vis-a-vis the context and meanings of proverbs in the same classical novel of Achebe Things Fall Apart. Adegbite (2006), however, does a stylistic study of an extract of conflict mediation discourse in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart.

In his own study, Asein (1976) concerns himself with the exploration of the literary resources employed by Achebe in Arrow of God, especially to achieve rhetorical effects. Also, Alabi (2000) studies Ayi Kwei Armah's The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born from the stylistic lenses with the aim of investigating how artistic cohesion of textual and thematic concerns have been achieved with the use of language in the novel. Ogunsiji (2005) examines the use of apposition and transitivity as narrative strategies in Soyinka's Ake, Isara and Ibadan.

In another data-based study of Achebe's Anthills of the Davannah, Odebunmi and Ogunleye (2003) investigate the context of theme-related humour in the novel against the contextual model. Odebunmi (2008) also examines Anthills of the Savannah, using insights from contextual models. In another study, Kehinde (2005) critically analyses the issue of social realism in post-colonial African fiction with a view to examining how text and context cohere in these novels.

With respect to Adichie's fiction, Heather (2005) discusses the coming of age of Adichie. In this study, he presents Adichie's works, especially her fiction as projecting the voice of the third generation. He observes that Adichie's novels thematize complexity of human problems, ranging from abuse through patriarchal relationship to political instability. In his own study of Adichie, Bruce (2006) explores the complex relationship between women and silence in PH. The study demonstrates that the forces of patriarchal culture attempt to silence women, but the women too have come to develop various strategies of resistance in the face of oppression.

In a relatively similar literary endeavour, Highfield (2006) addresses the topical issue of gender-based violence in two African novels. In particular, he focuses on violence against women, using Vyonne Vera's The Stone Virgin and Chimamanda Adichie's PH. Highfield notes that both novels clearly indicate that the causes of violence are rooted in the colonial past, and both turn to flower as a symbol of resistance against violence. Oha (2007) also carries out a study on Adichie's PH by specifically examining how Adichie has unraveled the problems of politics, freedom, gender, and development within the threshold of governance in Africa.

Adopting a linguistic approach, Tunca (2008), however, investigates language in recent Nigerian fictions, exemplifying with Adichie's PH, Ben Okri's The Landscapes Within and Dangerous Love and Gbenga Adenugba's Another Lonely Londoner. With respect to PH, Tunca moves towards an eclectic approach to stylistics (combining insights from sociolinguistics and grammar), and finds that Adichie's styles manifest the use of Igbo, code-switching between Igbo and English language, and proverbs. He reveals further that Adichie also makes use of mind style, silence, speech and thought presentation, adding that these, combined with the linguistic elements employed, aid the author's thematic projection. Osunbade (2009) explores explicit meaning in PH, adopting Sperber and Wilson's (1986) Relevance Theory to account for the recovery of Adichie's thematic foci in the text through such enrichment processes as reference assignment, gap-filling, bridging, and disambiguation. The foregoing reveals that while PH has got some scholarly attention, HYS is yet to receive any significant attention in linguistic scholarship. This therefore justifies my choice of the two novels for the present study as I proceed to give the summary of the texts.

PH captures the oddities in Nigeria as well as Africa in general, as the continent finds itself in the tyrannical trauma of anarchical leaderships (both within the family and the society at large). In the novel, through a fifteen-year old Kambili, the readers are introduced to the family of Eugene Achike. This family is blessed with material wealth, but mined tragically by the cruel abuses of the father, Eugene, turned callous by an inexorable, conservative form of Catholicism he embraces. Eugene converts to this form of Catholicism in his youthful days. He then grows up to uphold (as it might seem) moral standards--religious as well as social--and is therefore considered a model by many people in the community. He is the publisher of a revolutionary newspaper, The Standard, which challenges the corruption and abuses that characterize the governance in the post independent Nigeria. Nonetheless, in private, his lifestyle takes an ugly form, as he is as dictatorial and abusive as the leaders whom he attacks in his newspaper. He demands a rather superhuman perfection from his family, and uses violence to ensure their compliance by punishing them severely for any step he considers wrongly taken. This sadistic experience has, therefore, caused Kambili, her brother Jaja and their mother, Beatrice, both physical and psychological destruction.

The children's lives assume a positive dimension, however, when they go to spend their holidays with their aunt, Ifeoma, and her children in Nsukka. Although Ifeoma is also a Catholic like Eugene, her brother, she does not embrace a fanatic brand of Catholicism (to use Femi Osofisan's words at the back page of PH, 2003). She encourages her children to speak freely, and to question authority when necessary. Moreover, unlike her brother, Eugene, who is blinded by religious fanaticism, Ifeoma operates according to an ethos of love and compassion. This is evident in her taking on the responsibility of caring for their sick father Papa-Nnukwu, who still holds to the traditional Igbo religion of Odinani and whom Eugene has rejected as a heathen. While in their aunty's house, Kambili and Jaja also meet a young priest, Father Amadi whom Kambili falls in love with. Father Amadi believes in a form of Catholicism that is liberating and life-affirming rather than being oppressive and conservative. Ultimately, Kambili and Jaja's stay in Nsukka plays a significant role in their journey towards freedom. As Kambili slowly begins to rediscover her voice, and to desire freedom from her father's control, Jaja starts to display defiance which seems to infect their mother, who also starts to disobey her husband.

Consequently, these victims of Eugene's brutalities survive, rescued by the love that binds the children to their mother, and vice versa. Their freedom is made possible by Eugene's death caused not by his political activities, but by poison which his wife, Beatrice, gradually puts in his tea over the years. Out of love for mama, Jaja confesses to the murder and goes to prison for her sake. The novel closes with mama and Kambili visiting Jaja in prison, where Kambili reveals her awareness that a new and different silence now prevails among them; suggesting freedom from their father's subjugation and brutalities which Purple Hibiscus metaphorically connotes.

Adichie's second novel, HYS presents Nigeria in the 1960s, being a turbulent country soaked with tensions between the Hausas and the Igbos who sought to secede from Nigeria after the widespread massacres of their people in the North, leading to the war of succession tagged Biafran war. The novel starts with Ugwu, a village boy, whose aunty takes to the university town of Nsukka to work as a house boy to the university lecturer, Odenigbo. Odenigbo, fondly referred to as master by Ugwu, is a revolutionary who hosts gathering of intellectuals and other revolutionaries alike in his home in Nsukka every evening. Ugwu, his houseboy, respects his master's opinions so much that he nods at them and draws perceptive conclusions from them. Though Odenigbo sometimes sneers at Ugwu's unsophisticated ways, he wants to develop his potentials. Apart from sending him to school, he also gives him books to read.

Odenigbo's life is made complete by his romantic involvement with Olanna. Olanna comes from a prosperous Igbo family and she and her nonidentical twin-sister, Kainene, have been educated in England and have good British accents. While Kainene, who is plain and resentful, is poised to take over several of her father's businesses in Port-Harcourt, Olanna only chooses to be a lecturer in the University at Nsukka so as to build a life with Odenigbo. When Odenigbo brings her home, life also becomes more meaningful to Ugwu. He does not only learn many things from her; he also gets a wonderful treatment that is rare in a madam-servant relationship.

Though unwilling to settle down with any man, Kainene also enters into a relationship with Richard. Richard is a handsome English writer who comes to Nigeria to research into African art, especially Igbo-Ukwu art. On meeting the twin-sisters, Kainene and Olanna at a party in Lagos, he is attracted to Olanna, hut fascinated by Kainene whom he ends up with. He is however not really sure if Kainene reciprocates his desperate love or engages in illicit affairs with other men--especially Major Madu, a handsome and virile Igbo army officer best known to him as Kainene's family friend. Meanwhile, he lives in Nsukka, being a university town that will facilitate his research, but travels to Port-Harcourt for weekend trysts with Kainene. When in Nsukka, he shows up at Odenigbo's house with the other intellectuals to discuss.

While the characters struggle with different domestic problems, Nigeria itself gradually blows up in their faces. The Igbos attempt a coup upon the Gowon-led Hausas in government, and the Hausas retaliate with a sweeping massacre that starts in the north. Olanna who happens to be visiting her Igbo relatives in Kano witnesses the helpless situation the Igbos find themselves in. Consequently, the Igbo population is greatly reduced, but their desperation and lingering optimism propel them to retreat to eastern Nigeria where they hope to form the independent republic of Biafra. Olanna and Odenigbo take on the course of the revolution alongside Ugwu and other patriotic Biafrans.

The conflict later on turns into a full-fledged war which takes on an hyedra-headed form. Many lives are then lost (including that of Kainene), kwashiorkor becomes rife among children, and many become homeless. In the end, the Igbos surrender, and their dream of establishing an independent republic of Biafra, which is to have a flag striped in black and green, with "half of a yellow sun" (which names the novel and illuminates the Biafran dream and struggle) in its centre, becomes abortive. The novel ends with Olanna's helpless acceptance of the loss of Kainene, and her hope that they will reincarnate as sisters in their next life, as well as Ugwu's acknowledgement of the silence which greets the world at the loss of one's beloved ones.

Gricean Pragmatics

Gricean pragmatics is a version of pragmatics which focuses on meaning in context in a significant way, as well as on the cooperative principle (CP) given in terms of maxims vis-a-vis the generation of implicature. It has been noted in the literature that the first concept important to Gricean pragmatics is speaker meaning (see Grice 1957, Sperber and Wilson 1995, Perry 2006, etc.). In the article "Meaning" published by H.E Grice in 1957, he proposed an analysis of what it is for an individual S to mean something by an utterance x thus:

[S] meant something by x is roughly equivalent to IS]intended the utterance of x to provide some effect in an audience by means of the recognition of this intention (Grice 1957:58).

Using the above analysis as a point of departure for a theory of meaning, Grice characterises 'meaning' in terms of communicator's intention(s).

Prior to Grice's paper, it seemed that the commonsensical description of communication in terms of intentions and inferences was generally ignored. Grice's original idea in the paper was then to establish this commonsense view of communication and make it theoretically acceptable (Sperber and Wilson 1995:24). Being an inferential model of communication proposed as an alternative to the description and explanation of communication, this Gricean approach to meaning centres on the inferencing of speaker meaning and equally assigns the coding a deserved role in such inferencing (see Sperber and Wilson 1995: 397). Following the Grice model, it is thus clear that understanding what the speaker means by an utterance is a matter of inferring his/her communicative intention, and the task is the hearer's, especially by using all kinds of information available to get at what the speaker intended to convey. So, as Perry says, "central to understanding of language in this approach is intention-recognition" (2006:24).

In another work of Grice in his William James Lectures (1957), he puts forward the view that communication is governed by a "cooperative principle" and "maxims of conversation." His fundamental idea in this lecture is that once a communicative behaviour is identifiable, it can be reasonably assumed that the communicator is trying to meet certain general standards/principles called the co-operative principle (CP), namely:

Make your conversational contribution such as is required, at the stage at which it occurs, by the accepted purpose or direction of the talk exchange in which you are engaged (Grice 1957:45).

Grice then develops this CP into conversational maxims classified into four categories thus:

1. Maxim of Quantity

(i) Make your contribution as informative as is required (for the current purpose of exchange).

(ii) Do not make your contribution more informative than is required.

2. Maxim of Quality Supermaxim: Try to make your contribution one that is true.

(i) Do not say what you believe to be false.

(ii) Do not say that for which you lack adequate evidence.

3. Maxim of Relation Be relevant.

4. Maxim of Manner Supermaxim: Be perspicuous.

(i) Avoid obscurity of expression.

(ii) Avoid ambiguity.

(iii)Be brief (avoid unnecessary prolixity).

(iv) Be orderly.

Essentially, the CP is implemented in the plans of speakers and understanding of hearer by following these maxims. To communicate efficiently, therefore, a speaker only needs to utter a sentence whose interpretation would be compatible with the assumption that the CP and the maxims are being obeyed. According to Perry (2006:8), an important thing about these maxims is that Grice attributes to them an essential role for the definition and interpretation of conversational implicatures. In fact, one of Grice's main contributions to pragmatics was to show how in the event of violation of the CP, hearers are expected to make any additional assumptions to dispose of the violation and preserve the application of the CP and the maxims. Such additional assumptions are dubbed implicatures in Gricean pragmatics (see Sperber and Wilson 1995:35). Though Grice (1975) identifies two types of implicature, namely, conventional implicature and conversational implicature, the core of Grice's influential theory of conversation is conversational implicature. In this theory, Grice gives a sharp distinction between what someone says and what someone "implicates" by uttering a sentence. Scholars have identified 'what is said' with the literal content of the utterance, and what is implicated (the implicature) with the non-literal content of the utterance (i.e. what is intentionally communicated, but not said by the speaker) [see Grice 1975, Perry 2006, etc). Also, while what someone says is determined by the conventional meaning of the sentence uttered with consideration for contextual processes of disambiguation and reference fixing, what one implicates is associated with the non-observance of some principles/maxims governing conversation (Perry 2006:6).

Grice noted that there are many occasions when people fail to observe the maxim: flouting a maxim, violating a maxim, infringing a maxim, opting out of a maxim and suspending a maxim (Thomas 1995: 64). Flouting a maxim occurs when a speaker blatantly fails to observe a maxim at the level of what is said, with the intention of generating an implicature. Violating a maxim has to do with the unostentatious non-observance of a maxim with the tendency to mislead. Infringing a maxim depicts the non-observance of the maxim which stems from imperfect linguistic performance rather than from any desire on the part of the speaker(s) to generate a conversational implicature. Opting out of a maxim occurs when a speaker indicates unwillingness to cooperate in the way the maxim requires, perhaps for legal or ethical reasons. Suspending a maxim arises when the non-fulfillment of the maxim is expected by the participants, and therefore does not generate any implicature (see Thomas 1995: 65-76). However, according to Thomas:
   the situations which chiefly interested Grice were those
   in which a speaker blatantly fails to observe a maxim,
   not with any intention of deceiving or misleading,
   but because the speaker wishes to prompt the hearer
   to look for a meaning which is different from, or in
   addition to, the expressed meaning (1995: 65).

Invariably, therefore, the most important category of non-observance of the maxim in Gricean account is flouting a maxim, especially to generate additional meaning called conversational implicature. The fact is that each of the maxims can be flouted to give off implicature. Flouting which exploit the maxim of quality occur when the speaker says something which is blatantly untrue or for which he or she lacks adequate evidence. A flouting of the maxim of quantity occurs when a speaker blatantly gives more or less information that the situation requires. The maxim of relation is flouted when a speaker makes a response or observation which is very obviously irrelevant to the topic in hand; and the manner maxim is exploited when a speaker blatantly fails to be perspicuous (Thomas 1995:65-71). Ultimately, this Gricean approach theoretically accounts for how implicit meaning can be recovered and this study draws relevant insights from it.

Implicatures in Political Discourse in PH and HYS

My findings reveal that politics-related issues are communicated as implicatures in PH and HYS. Political discourse (PD) in our context, thus, operationally presupposes a discourse that portrays the political climate captured in Adichie's fictional society. The results indicate that implicatures of PD display two broad dimensions: figurative expressions with additional meaning and non-figurative expressions with additional meaning (see Odebunmi 2007). Figurative usage, which is scarcely engaged in the corpus, features figures of speech, namely, euphemism and metaphor. Nonfigurative expressions, however, dominate the data, indicating that many implicatures in PH and HYS do not appear in figurative garbs, but they go with additional meanings. The conversational maxims that are flouted or exploited to generate implicatures, in both the figurative and non-figurative dimensions include the Gricean maxims of quality, quantity and manner.

It is also revealed that implicit communication achieved through the two implicatural dimensions of figurative and non-figurative expressions generally serves to habour the speaker's covert intentions in relation to different thematic concerns of Adichie in the texts. As such, the pragmatic roles of implicatures in the interpretation of political issues in Adichie's texts are established in this section, as will be clear from the analysis that follows.

The only thematic concern of Adichie that relates to PD vis-a-vis implicatures in PH is leadership crisis, and it is usually lent to communication by the engagement of both figurative and non-figurative expressions, flouting the maxims of manner, quantity and quality; whereas, HYS manifests tribalism and inhumanity communicated through figurative and non-figurative expressions, exploiting the maxims of manner and quantity. Consider, first, examples illustrating figurative usages:

Example(1): (Background: Ifeoma's children make the issue of their mother's unfair treatments by the University the topic of their discussion)

Amaka ([T.sub.1]): Aunty Phillipa is asking mum to come over. At least people there get paid when they are supposed to.

Obiora ([T.sub.1]): And mom will have her work recognised in America, without any nonsense politics.

Amaka ([T.sub.2]): Did mom tell you she is going anywhere, gbo?

Obiora ([T.sub.2]): Do you know how long they have been sitting on her file? She should have been a senior lecturer years ago.

Amaka ([T.sub.3]): She told you that? (PH, p.219)

Amaka and her brother, Obiora, are involved in an interactive discourse that carries a serious political undertone, as it presents their mother as an innocent victim of leadership crisis. Obiora's utterance in his [T.sub.2] flouts the maxim of manner in its ambiguous nature and is deployed to communicate this intention implicitly. Amaka finally takes the responsibility for extracting the intended information, motivated by her conviction that the utterance is relevant to the conversational context. Amaka understands, by inference, that Obiora's informative intention is to make it manifest that their mother, Ifeoma, suffers unjust treatments from the University authorities. This understanding then enables her to extract the assumption that "their mother has remained unpromoted for a long time" from her background knowledge of the mother's traumatic experience in the University. Amaka's processing effort is therefore rewarded by the derivation of the implicature:

Their mother is being deprived promotion.

This implicatural content of Obiora's euphemistic expression indirectly evokes the ruthlessness of the African leaders, represented by the University authorities in this context--the University being a microcosm of the larger society. Of course, Ifeoma represents the deprived African, especially one who suffers unjustly as a result of his/her uncompromising moral standard. Though Ifeoma works in the academia, a field traditionally dominated by men, she is never afraid to challenge unwarranted actions and retrogressive decisions by the male-constituted University authorities. This non-conformist attitude constantly causes Ifeoma her entitlements, and this unjust experience is what is implied in Obiora's T1. In fact, the utterance is a euphemistic condemnation of her unjustifiable treatment. Thus, it is an indirect way of evoking the theme of leadership crisis in PH.

Figurative expressions are also employed to communicate the subject of tribalism in HYS, flouting the maxim of manner to give off implicatures. An instance will suffice:

Example (2): (Background: Olanna was in Mohammed's house in Kano when ethnic riot started)

Mohammed (T1): They're rioting.

Olanna (T1): It's the students, isn't it?

Mohammed (T2): I think it's religious or ethnic. You must leave right away.

Olanna (T2): Mohammed, calm down.

Mohammed (T3): Sule said they are blocking the roads and searching for infidels. Come, come (He went into the room and came out with a long scarf) wear this, so you can blend in.

Olanna (T3): (Jokingly) I look like a proper Hausa muslim woman now.

(HYS, p. 149-150)

Weeks after the second coup in the country which led to the death of many Igbo soldiers, Northern Nigeria becomes highly volatile. Riots leaving a number of Igbo dead are staged, causing serious unrest. The interaction above between Olanna and Mohammed, her ex-Hausa boyfriend, is an indictment on the condemnable tribal sentiment that orchestrates the ethnic riot that eventually blows into a full-fledge war in the country. This idea is communicate, using euphemism in Mohammed's [T.sub.3]. The figurative expression engaged here flouts the maxim of manner, being ambiguous, necessitating a generation of implicature. With the advantage of the situational knowledge, Olanna immediately understands that by "infidels" the Igbo are implied. She therefore agrees to disguise as a Hausa muslim in order to escape. Tribalism therefore becomes covertly portrayed as a barrier to ethnic unity in the country.

However, in examples 3 and 4, non-figurative expressions are employed in communicating the subject of leadership crisis and inhumanity, flouting the maxims of quality and quantity.

Example(3): (Background: Ifeoma and her brother's wife, Beatrice, engage in a conversation, dwelling on the topical issue of mal-administration by the government of the day)

(Aunty) Ifeoma ([T.sub.1]): Look what this military tyrant is doing to our country. We have not had fuel for three months in Nsukka. I spent the night in the petrol station last week, waiting for fuel. And in the end, the fuel did not come. Some people left their cars in the station because they did not have enough fuel to drive back home. Where else would this happen in an oil producing country except here?

Beatrice ([T.sub.1]): Oh. How are things generally at the university though?

(Aunty) Ifeoma ([T.sub.2]): We just called off another strike, even though no lecturer has been paid for the last two months. They tell us the Federal Government has no money.

In example 3 above, Ifeoma's [T.sub.1] is given rise to by the political situation in the country, which obviously subjects the citizens to unending hardship. The utterance addresses the subject of "fuel scarcity, resulting from the bad and tyrannical leadership style of the military administrators in the country". The rhetorical question which ends the utterance conveys an implicature necessitated by a flout of the maxim of quality, especially in alliance with the preceding sentences. The non-observance of the quality maxim here is justifiable by the lack of sufficient evidence to communicate the proposition in question as being truthful; the problem may not be peculiar to Nigeria.

Reaching the intended interpretation requires the addressee's (Beatrice) assessment of the contextual assumptions that:

(i) the military rulers are tyrants,

(ii) fuel has not been available in Nsukka for long,

(iii) motorists sometimes sleep in filling stations, hoping to get fuel to buy,

(iv) some people cannot even drive their cars home due to lack enough fuel to take them home,

(v) Nigeria is the only oil--producing country whose citizens still experience fuel scarcity.

Given her shared knowledge of the situation described, Beatrice is able to correctly derive the implication that Nigerians' traumatic experiences (with respect to their welfare needs) are traceable to leadership crisis. Beatrice's reaction tends to presuppose that this implied meaning is a foregone conclusion in the country. She therefore seems only interested in knowing (in her [T.sub.1]) whether the leadership crisis drawn on (by the implicatural content of Ifeoma's utterance) has not affected the University, which is expected to be held sacred, especially being a centre of intellectualism and excellence.

Also, Ifeoma's response to Beatrice's question in her [T.sub.2] obviously flouts the maxim of quantity in its imprecision and generates an implied meaning. With the utterance, which is less informative than the situation requires, Ifeoma makes it mutually manifest that the University is best regarded as the microcosm of the larger society as far as the government policies are concerned. The linguistic choices such as "yet another strike", "no lecturer has been paid for two months", and "tell us ... no money" therefore serve to indicate how the utterance is to be interpreted as relevant in the search for the additional conveyed meaning. With the right assessment of the implicated assumption that "the University faces serious hardship", the implicated conclusion, that "things have not improved at all in the university", is derived as Ifeoma's response to Beatrice's question. Ifeoma's utterances in her [T.sub.1] and [T.sub.2] in the conversation thus implicitly condemn government's attitude to the general welfare of the people. Considerably, therefore, the theme of leadership crisis in PH becomes covertly reiterated.

Another PD-related theme communicated using non-figurative expressions is inhumanity, with the quantity maxim being flouted. This is shown in the example below:

Example (4): (Background: As the Biafran war become more serious, two American journalists come to Biafra, visit a refugee camp and one of them, Charles, the redhead, interviews a refugee)

Charles (T1):

Are you hungry?

The refugee (T1):

Of course, we are all hungry.

Charles (T2):

Do you understand the cause of the war?

The refugee (T2): Yes, The Hausa vandals wanted to kill all of us, but God was not asleep. (HYS, p. 380)

Example 4 reveals that rather than relying on the propaganda from the media, some American journalists visit Biafra so as to gather firsthand information about the Biafran war. This endeavour takes Charles, the redhead, one of the journalists, to a refugee camp to interview the refugees. In an interview with a woman with one arm (suggesting that she is a real casualty of the war), he elicits information about the cause of the war and the woman answers enthusiastically, flouting the maxim of quantity; having said "yes" which is sufficiently relevant to the question asked, she goes ahead to accuse the Hausa of holocaust, which is believed to have catalyzed the war. Assisted by inference, Charles would be expected to reach the additional meaning conveyed here that: "the Hausa are inhumane". Hence, inhumanity is favoured in the implicature derivable.


This study has investigated the processes by which implicit meaning of political discourse is communicated in different contexts of use in PH and HYS, from the Gricean-theoretical perspective. The study reveals that related to implicatures in political discourse in PH is the theme of leadership crisis communicated through both figurative and non-figurative expressions, which flout the maxims of manner, quantity and quality. However, HYS reveals tribalism and inhumanity being communicated via figurative and non-figurative expressions, with the maxims of manner and quality being flouted. It ultimately concludes that a study of implicatures in the novels of Adichie aids the understanding of intended meaning of the author vis-a-vis the overall interpretation of the text. It is therefore expected to expose readers to how implicit meaning in Adichie's novels facilitates access to a context-driven understanding of political issues in the texts. The study recommends that an exploration of implicit meaning in the works of other contemporary African writers can further reveal these writers' utilisations of pragmatic tools in espousing the totality of African experience.

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Adeniyio O. Osunbade

Ladoke Akintola University of Technology

Ogbomoso, Nigeria
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Author:Osunbade, Adeniyio O.
Publication:Studies in the Humanities
Article Type:Interview
Geographic Code:6NIGR
Date:Dec 1, 2010
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