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ICOS 2008 Conference Abstract

A Socio-semantic Interpretation of Selected Jewish and African Names in Soyinka's "Death and the King's Horseman"

I O Odebode
Redeeemer\'s University, Nigeria

Wole Soyinka is a global titan on the literary scene. His scholarly experience has spanned over four decades (since the production of his first play, 'The Invention' in 1959), revealing a panoply of textual genres. Due to his artistic ingenuity and literary versatility, Soyinka is often attacked by critics as an obscure, unreadable and "writerly" writer. Unfortunately, several previous studies on Soyinka have examined his works largely from the literary perspective to the exclusion of linguistic concerns.
This paper therefore, attempts a socio-semantic interpretation of selected Jewish and African names in Soyinka's 'Death and the King's Horseman'. The study is a linguistic investigation that aims at contributing to the understanding of the text and locating it in its proper sociocultural contexts by shedding light on some aspects of the playwright's use of names. Names, as used in the text, are examined pragmatically to illustrate their functions within the immediate and wider environments of the text on the one hand, and to show how they impact on their bearers on the other hand.

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