UNIVERSITY OF NAIROBI
M A LINGUISTICS
LINGUISTICS AND LANGUAGE DEPARTMENT
NJUKI STEPHEN MURITHI
PRAGMATIC DISCOURSE IN KIMERU
This study is an attempt to analyze Kimiru circumcision songs using Communication Accommodation Theory (CAT).
The chapter gives an introduction to Kimeru language which is the sole source of these songs. In this chapter, there will be a background to the study, the research problem, research objectives, research hypothesis, rationale of the study and the scope and limitations of the study.
There will also be a discussion on the theoretical framework, that is, the Communication Accommodation Theory, Literature Review and the methodology of the study.
Background of the Kimeru Language
The Kimeru language is spoken by roughly 1.3 million people in the Meru District around Mt. Kenya in the central Kenya highlands. Linguistically this language can be classified as a Bantu language of the Niger – Congo family of language.
Meru tribe is a fairly homogenous group composed of sub tribes each of which speaks its own dialect of the Kimeru language. These dialects are: Imenti, which is spoken in central, North and South Imenti District, Igembe and Tigania (spoken in Nyambene District). This includes the dialect spoken in Maua Town; Miutini and Igoji dialects spoken in some parts of South Imenti District.
Tigania and Imenti dialects share about 85% similarity. And by comparison Kimeru has overall roughly 60% similarity to the other important languages in the region: Kikuyu, Kiembu and Kikamba. There are other dialects found in Meru South District. These are Mwimbi and Muthambi, Chuka and Tharaka which accounts for as Kimeru dialects though, they have different oral histories and methodology.
Imenti dialect of the Kimeru language is the language which is going to be my basis of research. That is the source of my data collections. This dialect is regarded as the “superior” one as is used in the media and as nstructional material for schools in lower primary and in the Holy Bible.
Background to the study
This paper is going to examine the interpretation of Kimeru male circumcision songs. According to Finke J. (1999) circumcision marks the rite of passage both physically and mentally. Actually this was paramount in defining a person’s status in Meru society.
Through circumcision, boys attain adulthood and all the respect and responsibilities that go along with it. Initiation not only promotes one into adulthood but also ushers one into the society. This makes one to become a full member of the community of his tribe.
According to Meru Traditions circumcision was only adopted after the arrival of the Meru in their present location. Its importance has become deeply engraved into Meru culture. Without circumcision no matter how old one was he would still be considered as a child, and can neither reproduce, nor pertake of functions, that affect the identity of the society.
Most of the songs and dances were passed on from generation to generation. According to Lyons J. (1968:63) writing has been invented and thus made it possible and ‘durable’ medium. Most of the songs were transmitted through a spoken medium, which made it impossible to keep exact words intact without changing its original form. The songs and dances were sung in stages. There were those which were sung before the circumcision i.e. the night before, in the morning before circumcision, during the operation and after.
All of these songs, were very significant in the lives of the initiates, parents and the community at large. Finnegan (1970) argues that songs appear in an almost unlimited number of context. He says that songs and music bring “feelings which find expression in our music and...
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