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Lexical Devices in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and Arrow of God

Lexical Devices in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and Arrow of God

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This research work aimed at examining the lexical devices in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and Arrow of God.  Lexical devices are words or the vocabulary of language that distinguished from its grammar and construction. Apart from the lexical devices in the two novels, it is also discovered in the study that Achebe is one of the prolific African writers who employs the use of Igbo proverbs in his critical works.

This proverb for instance is seen by in Things Fall Apart were Achebe said the lizard that jumped from the high Iroko tree to the ground said he would praise himself if no one did. This proverb is used by Okonkwo by acknowledging himself as a diligence young man. Findings in Arrow of God  is also seen were Ezeulu make the proverb  shows that a man who has nowhere else to put his hands for support puts it on his own knee. The proverb above is used by Ezeulu in defence of his decision to send his son Oduche to a strange religious of the whites. From the findings the study recommends Achehe’s novels into the Nigerian educational system because, the novels are realistic ones with cultural affirmation and cultural identity in African society.



1.1     Background f the study

The background o this study looks at the lexical choices in Chinua Achebe’s Arrow of God and Things Fall Apart. Though language is indeed a respiratory of culture environments. Achebe’s language as portrayed in his writings is nativised and domesticated to capture Igbo Cultural environment, norms, ideas….. and his characters who are meant to speak the nativised English. For instance, in sentential code mixing, Achebe employs the English language and the Nigerian in constitutions within a sentence and linguistic elements of English.

In addition, this is prevalent in Arrow of God thus;

The girls sang a song called Ifeoma…and they prepared a stew of Uziza. Obiageli’s tiny voice stood out life a small Ogere among drums and flutes. What happen s next was the work of Ekwensu, the brings of evil Akukacha… who rushed after Ebo… who went into Obi…and took the Ikenga from the shrine … Go home and sleep, leave me to settle my quarrel with Idemilo…(24).

From the above, these sentential code mixing shows the lexical choices as portrayed by the author in Arrow of God …with particular words which cannot be fully captured in the English language. Achebe uses them to portray words whose meanings would be lost in interpretation he uses some of these lexical words of Igbo because they have no equivalent in the English.

On the other hand, Achebe’s literary writing is the remarkable competence with which he handles the English language. He gives most thoughts on how to express his views to accommodate his cultural values in English and succeeds in creating his English version of Igbo syntax. In this light, Eustace Palmer asserts that,

Achebe has produced something new and valuable to the English language as well as to the material he is trying to put over. His narrative style using African thought patterns in Idiomatic expressions radiates to become a dozing beauty. He can also capture the nuances of native speakers’ patterns (75).

From the forging, it is clear that China Achebe’s choices of words and the cultural of Igbo society refers his lexical choices in the two plays under investigation.

1.2     Statement of the problem 

Every writer in literature first of all wherever he or she comes writes about the cultural values of that place. For instance, in Things Fall Apart the author writes about the cultural values in Igbo society and how they affect the individuals and the society at large. On the other hand, Wole Soyinka uses the known knowledge of the Yoruba god of Ogun in The Food to expose the manner in which the people fear the god of iron as being destructive. It is therefore  seen from the above views that Achebe’s lexical choice transfer the Igbo syntactic structure into English.

1.3     Purpose of the study  

The purpose of this study is to examine the lexical choice as portrayed by Achebe in his novels Arrow of God and Things Fall Apart.

1.4     Significance of the study

This study will be significant to both male and female African writes to enable writes use their language choices in portraying what is going round their environments. This study will also be significant to students of English and literature to understood Achebe lexical choices of language in his writings.

1.5     Research Methodology   

This study will make use of Achebe’s Arrow of God and Things Fall Apart as its primary sources, while the secondary sources will be on academic journals, articles and literature novels from library for more information.

1.6     Scope and Limitation of the study

The scope of this study will be investigations which are from Arrow of God and Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.

Lexical Devices in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and Arrow of God


1.7     Objectives of the study

The study is aimed at examining the following objectives:

  • To portray the lexical choices as portrayed by Achebe in these two novel under study
  • To understand the mending of lexical choices of language use by writers
  • To investigate reasons why African writers uses lexical choices of language in the writings.

1.8     Bio-Data of Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe was born in Ogidi in Nigeria in 1930 and christened Albert Chinualumogu Achebe. He was born a member of the Igbo tribe, one of the four main tribes in Nigeria. Achebe’s parents Isaiah Okafor were converts of the Protestant Church Mission Society in Nigeria. At the age (12) twelve, Achebe moved away from his family to the village of Nekede, four kilometers from Owerri. He enrolled as a student at the Central School, where his older brother called John taught while in Nekede, he gained an appreciation for a traditional Art.

In 1944, Achebe sat for entrance examination and was accepted at both the prestigious Jewish Memorial Grammar School in Onitsha and Government College in Umuahia and University College in Ibadan. While at the University Achebe contributed several stories and essays to its magazines. In 1953, he graduated with a B.A before joining the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation Service (NBC) in Lagos. In 1956, he was selected at staff school run by British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). In 1958, his novel was sending for recommendation in London by one of his teacher, Gilbert. In 1961, he met a woman in Enugu named Christiana CHinua Okoli and got married that same year, the marriage was blessed with children. Achebe died at the age of 82 years on 21st march, 2013.

Some of his selected works includes: Things Fall Apart (1958), No Longer At Ease (1960), Arrow of God (1964), A man of the People (1952), Dead Meris Path (1953), The Sacrificial Egg and Other Stories (1953), Civil Peace (1991), Girls at War and other Stories and Vengeful Creditors (1973), Poetry, Beware Soul Brother and Other Poems (1971), Don’t Let Him Die (1978), Children’s Books, Chike and the River, How the Leopard Got His Claws (1972), The Flute (1975), The Drum (1978).

1.9     Definition of Terms   

Lexical: Relating to words or the vocabulary of a language as distinguished from its grammar and construction.

Choices: The act of choosing; the act of picking or deciding between two or more possibilities.

Syntactic: Relating to or according to the rule of syntax.

Nativised: Belonging to a place a person is born or raised.

Linguistics: The study of language and the way languages works.

Domesticated: To train (someone) to behave in an appropriate way by using good manners being polite and helped. 

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