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Lingustic Imperialism in Things Fall Apart

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Linguistic Imperalism in the novel 'Things Fall Apart' Linguistic imperialism is a type of cultural imperialism that involves the transfer of a dominant language to other people, especially to the ones that are economically and ideologically disempowered. The transfer is a demonstration of power among cultures; military power in the earlier times, and economic power in our days. Also the aspects of the dominant culture are usually transferred along with the language as in Colonialism. The theory of linguistic imperialism has since the early 1990s attracted attention among scholars of applied linguistics, particularly since the publication of Robert Phillipson's influential book, Linguistic Imperialism, which led to considerable debate about the merits and shortcomings of the theory. Phillipson defines English linguistic imperialism as: "the dominance asserted and retained by the establishment and continuous reconstitution of structural and cultural inequalities between English and other languages. Phillipson's theory evaluates English and its historic spread as an international language and that language's continued dominance, particularly in postcolonial settings such as India, Pakistan, Uganda, Zimbabwe, South Africa etc., but also increasingly in "neo-colonial" settings such as continental Europe. ...read more.


The Ibo was later civilized by British colonialism, using the British language, and the Anglican religion. Achebe chose Umuofia to represent the opinion of Europeans which tell that the natives of Nigeria are uncivilized savage people. Secondly, proverbs also play a large part in the novel. The English translations provided by Achebe attempt to keep the spirit of the proverb alive and remain faithful to the terminology at the same time. As an example, he uses the proverb "A man that makes trouble for others is also making it for himself."(Achebe, 97) This one is similar to the Golden Rule that the British were very familiar with. However, the proverbs he uses usually mean the opposite of the opinion of European people; in order to prove that the highly religious Nigerian culture is also a civilized and enriched one. In addition to that, the proverbs give clues about the religious values of the Nigerian people. ...read more.


After begging for wings from a bird, the tortoise goes to the feast and tricks the birds, getting all of their food. Consequently, the birds get revenge and the tortoise's shell is scarred forever. Therefore, the story provides the lesson not to be greedy and selfish, as emphasized in many stories all from different cultures. (Achebe, 99) As a result, cultural -spesifically linguistic- imperialism is inevitable among many cultures in history. Either the invasion or the colonization of a dominant culture will usually end up with the assimilation of some other culture. Throughout the novel, Achebe uses original Ibo vocabulary, draws on proverbs, folk tales and techniques developed by the oral storytellers. Furthermore, he claims that the African writer should aim at fashioning out an English which is at once universal and able to carry his peculiar experience ... a new English is altered to suit its new African surroundings. Even though the language alters and is under the effects of the diversity of cultures, the telling of the story is from African perspective and holds an attitude against the new English culture and its reflections in native culture. ...read more.

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