Lexical Cohesion in Non-fictional Narrative as Discourse: A Study of Ngugi Wa Thiong’O’s Decolonizing the Mind

Amaechi Uneke Enyi, Edwin Chiekpezie Orji


The study was a linguistic examination of the use of lexical cohesive devices in Ngugi Wa Thiong ’O’s Decolonising the Mind- an autobiography. The study was aimed at revealing how Ngugi - an African L2 writer, deployed lexical cohesive devices to achieve cohesion and coherence and how this has contributed to the meaning of his non- fictional essay. The study was guided by the theoretical framework of Halliday’s tripartite metafunctions of language: the ideational, the interpersonal and the textual, with closer inclination to the textual metafunction that deals with text creation. Cohesion is understood in this study as a textual strategy deployed in language use to unify sentences into a text (a unified whole), that renders the speech or writing both readable and meaningful. A total of 29 excerpts, selected from relevant sections of the essay were descriptively analysed. Our analysis revealed that Ngugi made effective use of lexical cohesive devices to tie his text together, thereby succeeded in passing his message clearly to his readers. Our findings also showed a preponderant use of reiteration (near synonym) - 13 times, and repetition -8 times, by the writer, probably to achieve emphasis. Other lexical devices deployed by the writer to achieve various textual and communicative functions include: antonyms 4 times; superordinate/hyponym, 2 times; and complementaries and co-hyponym, 1 each, in crafting his essay, in which he tells a real- life story of his people, his culture and his heritage. Ngugi, by his effective use of cohesive devices along paradigmatic and syntagmatic axis, has demonstrated that an African writer can also, through the medium of biographical writing, project, not only his ideology, but also the exultation of his people, his culture and his inheritance by a skillful and near – native use of the English language. The study made a case for a systematic teaching of cohesive devices at all levels of education as that will improve reading and comprehension and the aver all communicative competence of L2 learners of English.


Cohesion, Discourse, Narration, Non-fiction, Reading Comprehension, Text

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijels.v.7n.3p.83


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