Published: June, 2020


Juliet Nkane Ekpang, Keziah Jonah Pam,  Lawrence Ekwok

About Author(s):

Department of English & Literary Studies, University of Calabar, Nigeria.

Department of English, University of Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria

Department of Mass Communication. University of Calabar Nigeria.

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Proverbs inherently have a feature of traditionality and are employed by speakers as communication tools in most cultures and languages of the world. They bear features that characterise them as meaning oriented and contextually peculiar. The study of rhetoric on the other hand, involves the study of ethical, logical, and emotional appeals as instruments of persuasion in speaking or writing. This study highlights the components of rhetoric and the metaphoric components at play in proverbs in a bid to underscore the viability of teaching proverbs (in schools) as a vehicle for enhancing rhetorical and argumentative skills in English among second language learners. The data for this research is a collection of twenty proverbs purposefully selected from a wide range of proverbs gathered during an interview session with two custodians of Afrike orature. The discussion is primarily centred on identifying the claims/meanings of the proverbs within varied contexts. In addition, the rhetorical appeals as well as the instruments of argumentation used are identified and discussed. This study is guided by the Aristotelian theory of rhetoric, Toulmin’s theory of argumentation and the sociolinguistic approach to language study. Because the effectiveness of proverbs in use does not only lie in the semantic or syntactic import of the proverbs themselves but also depends to a large extent on the linguistic context, speaker, nature of the audience and topic of discussion (these factors constitute aspects of the rhetorical appeals), this paper concludes that including them in course contents will add considerable local flavour and enhance learning of rhetorical skills in a more practical manner.


Key words: Proverbs; Rhetoric; Language teaching; Argumentation; Sociolinguistic