Things Fall Apart
Language and Communication Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
As the men drank, they talked about everything except the thing for which they had gathered. It was only after the pot had been emptied that the suitor’s father cleared his voice and announced the object of their visit. (8.75)
To show politeness, the visitors discuss everything but their intended topic. It would be considered rude in Igbo society to cut straight to the chase when there is still food and drink to be enjoyed.
The egwugwu house was now a pandemonium of quavering voices: Aru oyim de de de dei! Filled the air as the spirits of the ancestors, just emerged from the earth, greeted themselves in their esoteric language. (10.4)
The egwugwu spirits have their own unintelligible language that sets them apart from the inferior mortal counterparts.
“Umuofia kwenu!” shouted the leading egwugwu, pushing the air with his raffia arms. The elders of the clan replied, “Yaa!”
The egwugwu use the same phrases and call-and-response format as orators getting the attention of a large crowd. This might mean that the egwugwu are stooping to human language so that their subjects can understand them. Or, from a more skeptical viewpoint, this could be proof that the egwugwu are simply masked men – not gods – because they use the same language as men.