Achebe's Use of Language

Added by Melissa Culross '92

[based on Contemporary Authors]

The ways in which Achebe transforms language to achieve his particular ends distinguishes his writing from the writing of other English language novelists. To convey the flavor of traditional Nigeria, Achebe translates Ibo proverbs into English and weaves them into his stories.

To engender an appreciation for African culture in those unfamilar with it, Achebe alters English to reflect native Nigerian languages in use. "Without seriously distorting the nature of the English," observes Eustace Palmer in The Growth of the African Novel, "Achebe deliberately introduces the rhythms, speech patterns, idioms, and other verbal nuances of Ibo....The effect of this is that while everyone who knows English will be able to understand the work and find few signs of awkwardness, the reader also has a sense, not just of black men using English, but of black Africans speaking and living in a genuinely black African living situation."

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