Deviation as Defamiliarization Technique in Written Igbo Poetry

  • Chukwuebuka U. Oraegbunam Department of Linguistics and African Languages, Faculty of Arts, University of Ibadan, Nigeria
Keywords: deviation, defamiliarisation, Written Igbo Poetry, Modern Igbo Poets, African poetry


Deviation in the literary parlance occurs when a speaker or writer deviates from the normal rules and standards of a language. By breaking the rule of language, poets create art from the language that a language group is familiar with. Previous studies on written Igbo poetry (WIP) focused mainly on the content of WIP, with little attention paid to the language of the modern Igbo poets (MIP). Consequently, there is a dearth of research on how deviation occurs in African literatures.  Therefore, through the lenses of Shklovsky’s defamiliarisation theory, this study examines WIP, with a view to describing the techniques used by MIP in achieving deviation, for the purpose of defamiliarising language in their works. Data consists of twenty poems randomly selected from eleven Igbo poetic texts, written between 1975, when WIP debuted to 2015, a period that marks the fourth decade of its existence. The poems studied were subjected to a qualitative analysis that focuses on the use of language to achieve deviation. Findings show that four types of deviation feature in WIP scene: syntactic, lexical, phonological and graphological. Syntactic deviation is achieved through the use of end-weight, focusing and topicalisation. Lexical deviation is the achieved through the use of coinages, lexical borrowing and dialectal deviation. Only apocope phonological deviation feature in WIP, while graphological deviation is done to ease pronunciation with a view to achieving rhythmic effect.


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Author Biography

Chukwuebuka U. Oraegbunam, Department of Linguistics and African Languages, Faculty of Arts, University of Ibadan, Nigeria

Chukwuebuka U. Oraegbunam, is a Lecturer at the Department of Linguistics and African Languages, Faculty of Arts, University of Ibadan, Nigeria, where he teaches Igbo Literature, Stylistics and Culture. He obtained a B.A. degree in Igbo Studies, Post-graduate Diploma degree in Education, M.A. degree in Igbo Literature and a Ph.D. degree in Igbo Literature and Stylistics. His research interests are in Igbo and African Literature, Stylistics, Cultural Studies and Discourse Analysis. Dr. Chukwuebuka is a member of Linguistic Association of Nigeria (LAN), Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), Society for Igbo Studies (SIS), West African Linguistic Society (WALS) and Ụwandịigbo (USA). He has published scholarly articles in reputable journals within and outside Nigeria. 


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How to Cite
Oraegbunam, C. (2023). Deviation as Defamiliarization Technique in Written Igbo Poetry. Cihan University-Erbil Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, 7(1), 34-41.