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Place du proverbe chez les Bwa du Mali : An ethnolinguistic study

Abstract : The set of five hundred proverbs presented in this doctoral dissertation is analysed in reference to patterns of situated speech events. The purpose is to describe as carefully as possible how, among the Bwa of Mali, the frequent usage of these proverbs fits in the multifarious forms of their daily verbal exchanges ; it is also to achieve a better understanding of Bwa society. Thus these proverbs are not taken out of context for the sake of cultural commentary ; to the contrary, the emphasis is on their occurence as ways of speaking in specified social circumstances. The study also takes into account the process of field research when the proverbs were collected. As the dissertation shows, one needs to know the overall social and cultural context of their use : Bwa social environment, ethnic organization and language. The study turns then to the features that make proverbs so noticeable in Bwa society where speaking and oratory are granted major importance. To the Bwa, appropriate use of proverbs, conforming to a definite taste for such figures as simile, understatement, and innuendo, is the embodiment of good speaking. Proverbs are thus broached as a form of speech act, a form embedded in the process of interlocution. Finally, the analysis delves into the meaning of proverbs and their relation to cultural knowledge and wisdom. Beyond the moral issues proverbs may point out, it is their strategic use in indirect discourse that seems to be stressed among Bwa speakers who are fond of avoiding expliciteness.
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Contributor : Cécile Leguy <>
Submitted on : Sunday, April 25, 2021 - 2:44:43 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, April 28, 2021 - 3:23:51 AM


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Cécile Leguy. Place du proverbe chez les Bwa du Mali : An ethnolinguistic study. Anthropologie sociale et ethnologie. École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales - Paris, 1996. Français. ⟨tel-03207509⟩



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