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SIL e-Books 29

The Role of Oral Literature in the Dissemination of Neologisms

Author  Stark, John E.

From 1992 to 2000 I led the Kambari Language Project in developing and promoting new terms in three languages of the Kambari language cluster in Niger State, Nigeria. The three languages are Cishingini (Agwara Area Kambari), Tsikimba (Auna-Wara Area Kambari) and Tsishingini (Salka Area Kambari). The Kambari co-languages are classified as Niger-Congo, Benue-Congo, Kainji. We sought to create indigenous terminology in four domains: government/political terms, medical terms, religious terms and metalanguage/literacy terms. In this work I have documented and critically analyzed the factors contributing to the success or failure of term development and promotion in the four domains.

I have examined the theoretical foundations of terminology development, largely based on the work in Yoruba as delineated by Awobuluyi and Bamgbose, and introduce a new term in the discipline, neoterms. Neoterms form the distinct subset where terminology and neologisms intersect. Neoterm development is viewed as a unique form of translation, wherein the translator is not attempting to convey an entire message, but only a single word or concept, and thereby loses control of the discourse context in communication. The study contributes to solving the problem of neoterm development by proposing methods of enhancing first-exposure recognition of the terminological meaning of the neoterm, drawing on the work of Lakoff and others in set formation theory, and by selecting term strategies based on the profiles of the projected user groups. I have provided a set of need-based decision matrices to guide language development decisions in the area of neoterm formation. These matrices contrast the factors of communication setting, the percentage of the population expected to use the neoterm, and the nature of the concept being conveyed.

All language developers face the challenge of promoting the newly developed terminology. In addressing this challenge I introduce a sociological distinction between text-oriented and oral-oriented communities, and explain Sperber and Wilson’s Relevance Theory of human communication (as presented by Gutt) which emphasizes the role of the communicative context in comprehension. These theoretical considerations lead me to propose Kambari oral literature forms as a vehicle to publicly promote the developed neoterms. I trust that documenting this pioneer effort will provide other language developers with an innovative model they can replicate as part of their program to achieve public acceptance of their work.

  View The Role of Oral Literature in the Dissemination of Neologisms 1262 KB, 136 pages
Published  2011
Languages  Cishingini [asg]
Tsikimba [kdl]
Tsishingini [tsw]
Country  Nigeria
Subjects  Linguistics
Keywords  neoterms; created terms