The influence of oral tradition on style and language

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Although we adopt the Structuralist theory in this thesis, particularly its liberation of the reader, in as much as the reader should be free to derive meaning from the text and that he should not be bogged down by the author’s tyranny, we shall, in some instances,consider the author’s significance where the need arises. In this case we shall also adopt the Biographical approach to deal effectively with che material that warrants its adoption.The Biographical approach sees a work ofliterature as a reflection of the author’s life and times. It holds the view that the author writes his text with and for a particular purpose in life. As a result, the knowledge of the author’s socio-cultural background and experiences usually helps us understand his literary work( s) better, particularly because authors often project their idiosyncracies in their works. The author reveals himself through his literary work and he uses it to expose his feelings concerning life. This method teaches us that in order to fully understand the depth of short stories such as Taafite le Jonathane by Shole, we must know the problems of discrimination, apartheid and immorality which are manifest in the South African society.This also brings into our study the Marxist approach which emphasises that the author should have a role to play in addressing oppression and deprivation in society in addition to highlighting the other problems of the poor. According to Marxism, a work ofliterature is useful only in as much as it helps uplift the standard of living of the people. This approach maintains that the author’s will to write should be triggered by the historical and socio-political environment in which he lives and not necessarily by his knowledge of language or his knowledge of artistic devices. This means that an artist is an artist through his people, as his work of art is borne by his history, politics and ideology.According to Selepe ( 1993) Marxist criticism holds the view that literary criticism, as the product of the social conflict, should reflect that conflict. As such, Marxists are of the opinion that the question of whether literature is good or bad serves no significant purpose, but is of secondary importance. This view eliminates the essence of the “goodness” or “badness” of a work of literature by whatever standards, but foregrounds the essence of the ideology of literature. Therefore, in order to understand an author’s work of literature better, it is imperative that we know the socio-political and historical environment in which the author lived, as well as the problems experienced in his society. The Marxist and the Biographical approaches are therefore adopted solely because, sometimes, the author’s ideas, perceptions, idiosyncracies, historical, ideological and social background are necessary in order to understand the text. As Catherine Belsey (1980:7) puts it, “literature reflects the reality of experience as it is perceived by the author, who expresses it in a discourse which enables the readers to recognise it as true”.From this opinion, we can deduce that the author gives a particular form to his particular experience and perception of human beings, situations and problems; and the reader thinks about them, interprets and realises their truthfulness in the world in which he lives. Although we accept the significant role of the author and his perception about reality, we still subscribe to the belief that meaning is never a fixed essence inherent in the text, but that it is always constructed by the reader (Barthes, 1980). We have to accept that a story will always mean something different to different readers, just as it will always mean to a reader exactly what the writer intended it to mean. Once the reader accepts the author’s perception of reality as true, the shared perception becomes a conclusive truth about the reality of experience. It is common knowledge that when the author tells a story, he actually generalizes his personal experiences and conclusions on human beings and their problems, (Scott & Madden, 1980) which he feels he should share with other people.
These generalizations and conclusions that the author feels compelled to share with his readers constitute what is literally referred to as theme. In the words of Scott & Madden, (1980: 10) theme can be defined as the generalization, stated or implied, that lies behind the narration of a specific situation involving specific individuals;and theme exists in fiction because human beings live in the same world, share similar emotions, react in similar ways to similar stimuli, and face common problems.It is clear from the above quotation that emotions are significant in theme development as they play a major role in the enhancement of interest. Makgamatha ( 1990) puts it more aptly when he says that successful narratives are designed to produce a spontaneous effect on their reader, that the emotions they excite in the reader are their chief means of holding attention; and that the work becomes real only when the listener sympathizes, becomes indignant, joyful and disturbed. Another thing that comes out clear in the quotation above is that the theme of a literary work generalizes about life, as stated or implied by the story. When a short story portrays specific characters in specific situations, it essentially talks about the essence of all human beings in their interrelationships and in their relationship to the universe. Usually, the theme of a story cannot be reduced ‘to pat maxims’ (Scott & Madden, 1980: 11) since human behaviour and experience are complex, and this complexity can come up in different ways. It is not enough to categorically state that a theme refers to generalizations about life because a ‘given generalization is not always true, but will be true only under certain circumstances'(Jbid).

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1.0 Aim and context of research 
1.1 Method of research 
1.1.1 The Formalist theory
1.1.2 The Structuralist theory
1.1.3 The New Criticism theory
1.2 The modem short story: A brief introduction 
1.3 Studies on Tswana short stories
1.4 A history of the emergence of Tswana short story anthologies 
1.5 Research outline and structure
2.0 Introduction 
2.1 The theme of tradition and culture 
2.2 The theme of love and marriage 
2.3 The theme on the makgoweng motif 
2.4 The theme of corruption and other social problems 
2.5 The theme of religion 
2.6 Resume 
3.0 Introduction 
3.1 The structure of the short story 
3.1.1 Exposition
3.1.2 Development
3.1.3 Resolution
3.2 Some stylistic devices
3.2.1 Flashbacks
3.2.2 Fore shadowing
3.3. Resume 
4.0 Introduction
4.1 Some syntactic and structural constructions
4.1.1 The word
4.1.2 The sentence The short sentence The long sentence
4.1.3 Repetition
4.1.4 The paragraph
4.2 Figurative language
4.2.1 Simile
4.2.2 Metaphor
4.3 The proverb and the idiom
4.3 .1 The proverb
4.3.2 The idiom
4.4 Biblical allusions
4.5 Resume
5.0 Introduction
5 .1 Oral tradition in the organisation of material
5.2 The link between oral tradition and characterisation
5.3 The influence of oral tradition on style and language
5 .4 The influence of oral tradition on setting
5.5 Oral tradition and narrative perspective
5.6 Resume
6.0 Introduction
6.1 Major themes
6.2 The organisation of material
6.3 Stylistic and linguistic characteristics
6.4 Oral tradition and the Tswana short story
6.5 Recommendations for future research


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