The beauty of insult among the Ewe people
Among the Ewes, insult is a mark of linguistic competence and culture consciousness. People receive praise for knowing how to insult. There are context-appropriate insults and there are context inappropriate insults. The consideration of a particular utterance as an insult is dependent on the communicative situation. The medium through which insult as a verbal art is performed is varied and diverse among the Ewes and every native speaker is groomed right from childhood to appropriately engage in the performance of insult. This study conducts an aesthetic analysis of insults among the Ewes. The study draws data from four native speakers each from the Anlo, Tongu and Ʋedome dialect groups of Ewe. Data was collected through interviews, observations and native speaker intuitions. The study establishes that insult is not only a verbal art but also a verbal game that is played by the speakers, and that how well one can play this game marks the linguistic competence and cultural literacy of the speaker. The study also finds that literary devices such as simile, metaphor, exaggeration, synecdoche among others are employed in insult performances. Verbal and nonverbal acts including varied kinesics, silence, songs are media for the performance of insult amongst the Ewe people.
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