Igbo names and spellings for various settlements
Abakaliki is Abankaleke; Afikpo is Ehugbo; Awgu is Ogu; Awka is Oka; Bonny is Ubani; Enugu is Enugwu; Ibusa is Igbuzö; Igrita is Igwuruta; Oguta is Ugwuta; Onitsha is Onicha; Owerri is Owere; Oyigbo is Obigbo... any more will be added.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Igbo Speech

Photo: An Igbo notable and a meeting in his compound, late 19th century.

Indirect speech, multilayered and complex meanings and action is characteristic of Igbo communication, at least originally. The Igbo way of talking was/is often indirect, there was often the use of euphemisms and analogy not only to be polite or to show off oratory skills, but to take a non-combative stance, at least perceptively. The goal is always to seem rational and objective. This form of communication is also one in which a person strives to remain elusive; it has developed in a society ruled by debate and consensus based on perceived ration for hundreds of years. This form of communication includes the use of proverbs and in other cases indirect speech, like in the case of 'kam ga hụ nwanyị ahụ agwọ tara' when going to the toilet, it can also be seen in the lack of the verb for love, instead 'ịhụnayna', the meeting of the eyes, is used, the term alludes to the reciprocity of love, to the idea that it isn't simply one acting (loving) on the other. At first glance, 'let the day break' (kachibọọ) for goodnight, 'have you survived overnight?' (ịbọlachi) for good morning, and 'keep on working' (daarụ) or 'you have done it' (ịmẹla) for thank you, may seem distant, this however is the stoic nature of Igbo communication that honours and values objectivity, but contains a deep amount of meaning and emotion.

This way of communicating means that an action or a declaration may not be valued by its own but for its ultimate goal or for its intention given a wider perspective. This is somewhat like a verbal guerrilla strategy and one in which a person seemingly takes a step back only for them to take a better position. The question may be whether this art form still exists among the Igbo people, or whether things have been slowed down and can only be approached at face value, whether there still exists reflection and the ability to not rush into the most obvious paths and into pitfalls.

No comments: