Document Type : Original Article


Madonna University, Nigeria


Language plays major functions in society. The way of life of a people is handed down from generation to generation through language. The Igbo people are known for their rich oral tradition and cultural heritage especially in the use of proverbs. Some studies on Igbo proverbs have focused on the semantic classifications, structures of the proverbs, the relevance of Igbo proverbs in interpersonal relationships and conflict resolutions as well as explored the stance of proverbs in the creation of dichotomy in gender relations in Igbo land. The present study aims at establishing the relationship between Igbo proverbs, their functions in society and their pragmatic force as didactic tools. The proverbs were selected from texts written by Igbo native speakers. Twenty proverbs that teach respect and honour in Igbo land were selected, translated to English and analysed. In Igbo land, proverbs are situated in contexts; hence, the work adopts context, an aspect of Lawal’s 2012 pragmatic theory. The work is analysed in line with the six levels of context identified in the theory in consonance with the Igbo worldview. These levels include cosmological, sociological, social, psychological, situational and linguistic.