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Abstract

By virtue of their morphology and pragmatic effects, name-forms are lexical. However, proverbs are usually copious linguistic expressions that transcend mere lexical units. This study gives a description and analysis of the forms and contents of certain proverbial expressions whose linguistic forms and discursive roles have permitted their usage as Yorùbá personal names. Two major tasks are crucial in the following analysis: a characterization of the process involved in the change, and the explication of the interface between the pragmatics and semantic contents of this class of names. Essentially, therefore, the paper pursues answers to the following questions: how are the sentential features of Yorùbá proverbs reduced to the morphological/lexical status of names and why are some proverbs usable as names and a wide range of others not attested? And, arising from those two questions, what is the status and what are utilitarian effects of this class of names in pre-literate Yorùbá society? It is hoped that the provision of answers to the above questions would suggest reasons why certain rules; i.e. construction of certain types, occur in certain communication situations and thus highlight the interface between construction types and their uses.

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