Linguistik online 21, 4/04

Deference and subordination: Gender roles and other variables in addressing and referring to husbands by yoruba women

L. Oladipo Salami (Ile-Ife)



The Yoruba society, like many patriarchal traditions, tends to espouse male supremacy - an ideology that is reflected, often, in many of the cultural values and beliefs of the people. The use of address terms in Yoruba constitutes an aspect of linguistic practices where there is inequality in the use of language between male and male, female and female as well as between male and female. The study reported in this paper focuses on the use of first names (FN), teknonyms (TKM) and pet names (PN) as address forms by Yoruba-speaking women in the city of Ile-Ife in interaction with their husbands. It describes the pattern of use according to a number of social factors including age, level of educational attainment, region of origin and speech context. The paper demonstrates that while these factors are important determinants of address usage by Yoruba women, gender role-expectation (child-rearing) and the relations of power between Yoruba women and men interact in some crucial way in the women's language behaviour. This is particularly so because of the social changes that have been taking place within the Yoruba culture over the last three decades or so.


full text