Orality pp 43-71 | Cite as

Cultural Parameters of Speech: Genre, Form, Aesthetics



In the newsroom of the Hausa language service of the BBC World Service, a service that has been broadcasting for over fifty years, there has long been a replaying of old debates that reflect an underlying tension between two broadly opposed attitudes to language and to culture. There are those whose first reaction, faced with the difficulties of translating a new concept into Hausa, is to search within the resources of the Hausa language for an image, a parallel, an association, that can be drafted in to serve as the new term for ‘genetic modification’ or ‘quasar’ or any of the other terms and associated ideas that pass through newsrooms all over the world. Combined with an explanation, the familiar Hausa word is given a new extension, a new set of connotations, to become the new standard term through repetition and the ripple effect of being taken up and used by others in similarly influential positions, in the Hausa language media in Nigeria and abroad — so dan sama jannati, ‘the name for a particular type of religious zealot who wears a gown the sleeves of which were believed to act as wings that will transport the person to heaven on the Day of Judgement’, is pressed into service to become the commonly used and standard term for ‘astronaut’. These processes go on all the time, all over the world in many different languages.


Dust Storm Oral Communication Cultural Parameter Standard Term Speech Event 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Graham Furniss 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Oriental and African StudiesUniversity of LondonUK

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