The Use of Marked English Verbs as a Tool of Protest in African Commonwealth Poetry

Eric Dzeayele Maiwong


This paper examines the use of marked English verbs as an aspect of the highly technical manipulation of the English Language by some distinguished African Commonwealth poets, in order to achieve their aims. By using data from African Commonwealth Poetry, selected from the writings of Brutus (1973), Nortje (1973), and Mtshali (1972), and basing the analysis on Markedness theories, Semiotics, and Critical Discourse Analysis in order to buttress its analysis. Among its key findings and contributions, the paper establishes that marked English verbs constitute an efficient tool that enables the three poets in focus to protest against the various injustices of apartheid and that Africanization of the English Language is not the only solution available to African Commonwealth writers, as they grapple with the problem of expressing themselves in a foreign language. Furthermore, the paper has made a pertinent contribution in linguistic studies by proving that the linguistic phenomenon of markedness goes beyond existing linguistic terms like hyponymy and polysemy and can thus not be better expressed by them as some scholars claim. It equally proves that a closer study of African Commonwealth Literature necessitates an analytical study of various parts of speech and not only the bigger units of English. Finally, in the analysis of a data of marked English verbs, it has been discovered that markedness as specification for semantic distinction can lead not only to a suggestion of adjectivals and adverbials, but also to that of figures of speech.

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