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Author Yoruba words having similar sounds but different meanings  (Read 383 times)

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Offline Charles Dickson

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Yoruba words having similar sounds but different meanings
« on: May 09, 2018, 06:23:16 PM »
Yoruba words having similar sounds but different meanings


The Yoruba-speaking peoples are fond of composing punning sentences, made up of words having similar sounds but different meanings. Thus:--

(1) Abebi ni ibe iku.

Abebi ni ibe orun.

Bi oru ba inu abebi ni ibe e.

Abebi means a fan, an advocate, or an intercessor, and the above is

An intercessor (with the gods) wards off death.
An advocate (with the judge) wards off punishment.
A fan wards off the heat when it is hot.

[1. See Proverb 218.]

(2) Igun ti ogun mi ko jo i egun. Stabbing is not like pricking me with a thorn." The play here is in the resemblance between the words igun, ogun, and egun.

(3) Bi alapata ba pa eran, awon alagbata abu u li ajan. When the butcher kills the animal the retailers cut it into pieces." Here the play is upon the words alalgata (butcher) and alagbata (pedlar, retailer, petty trader).

(4) The following is on the words bata (shoes), bata-bata (an onomatopœic word like our "patter patter "), apata (rock), ajulabata (chief drummer), and bata (a long drum):--

Ojo pa bata, bata-bata-bata, li ori apata; li ode ajulabata, bata ni igi, bata li awo.

"The rain on the bata (shoes), goes patter, patter, patter, as on the apata (rock); in the street of ajulabata, the bata (drum) is wood, the bata (shoes) are of hide."

(5) Igba dodo li agbado, igba ni? "What supports the people if it is not maize?" Here the play is on igba dodo and agbado.

It is a favourite game to repeat as fast as possible sentences difficult to pronounce, like the following:--

Iyan mu ire yo; iyan ro ire ru. "When there is famine the cricket is fat" (that is, is considered good enough to eat); "when the famine is over the cricket is lean" (i.e., is rejected).

Kanakana ba kanakana ja, kanakana da kanakana. "The crow met the crow and fought, the crow beat the crow."

The two following are examples of a play of a different sort:--

(1) The cry of the squirrel sounds like the word korokoro, whence "It was the squirrel's own mouth that betrayed her, for when she had brought forth two young ones she carried them to the roadside and said, My children are very sound, very sound, very sound (Omo mi ije korokoro, korokoro, korokoro.)

(2) The cry of the bush-fowl (partridge) resembles the words kiki ora, "nothing but fat"; hence the saying, "With its mouth the bush-fowl declares its fatness, crying, 'Nothing but fat! Nothing but fat.'" (Kiki-ora! Kiki-ora.)


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NaijaSky


Offline Charles Dickson

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Re: Yoruba words having similar sounds but different meanings
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2018, 06:24:02 PM »

Riddles are sufficiently common, but few of them are good. The following are examples:--

Q. A small confined room, with hardly anything in it but pegs.
A. The mouth, with the teeth.

Q. An associate who cannot be tamed.
A. Fire.

Q. There is no market in which the dove with the prominent breast has not traded.
A. The cowry.

Q. A hen that has many chickens.
A. The Milky Way.

Q. I am long and slim, I am engaged in commerce, and yet I never reach the market.
A. The canoe (which carries the goods but stops at the landing-place).


NaijaSky

Re: Yoruba words having similar sounds but different meanings
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2018, 06:24:02 PM »


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