Expressive and Evaluative Aspects of Connotation in Hausa Court-Song: A Semantic Analysis

Authors: Yusuf Nuhu Inuwa (Sule Lamido University, Kafin Hausa, Nigeria / Universiti Sains Malaysia)
Speakers: Yusuf Nuhu Inuwa
Strand: Poetics and Performativity
Session Type: General Session


Some aspects of semantic connotation with special reference to court-song(s) – one of most popular Hausa oral genres sung for praise of kings, princes, and other royal folks is examined in this study. Particularly, the article explores words that contain various expressive features and evaluative functions of connotation used in the songs as literary device to evoke additional meanings not covered in dictionary entries. Data for the study is derived from collections of 60 different songs by Salihu Jankixi, Ibrahim Narambada and Musa Dankwairo, most celebrated Hausa court-singers of their time. In this regard, a descriptive qualitative analysis is employed based on Dickins’ (2019) framework of expressive connotative meanings (associative, attitudinal, affective, allusive, reflected and collocative meanings); in conjunction with Çepýk’s (2006) types of evaluative (positive, neutral and negative) connotation to analyze how Hausa singers use some words to convey implied meanings in lyrics. In the process, 70 words containing various types of meanings that connote imageries and peculiarities were extracted from the corpus. The connotations emerged from the words show that the court-singers used to utilize certain culturally symbolic inferences that can carry any one of expressive and evaluative undertones to add strata of emotive-expressive meanings to display power and importance of royal folks by associating them to powerful animals, physical objects, abstract ideas and images in reflection of their real-life experiences. Further, the study argues that connotative meanings of the words found in the songs can be added to dictionary entries, used in language teaching as well as in translation of certain political, socio-cultural, religious and scientific concepts from other languages to Hausa.


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Keywords: meaning, connotation, expressive, evaluative, semantic, Hausa, court-song.