Analysis of Language used in Gikuyu Marriage Negotiation Discourse

Kinuthia, Jane Wanjiku, Wathika Lucy Njeri, Mwai Wamaitha Loise, Yakobo, J. K. Mutiti


This paper which focuses on language use within the formal discursive process of negotiating and legalising marriage in the domain of ‘Ruracio’ or bride wealth payment amongst the Agikuyu of Kenya was conceived on the premise that language is a significant phenomenon in the production and maintenance of social relations of power. The focus is on language elements that are both linguistic and non-linguistic and their influence on the concepts of gender and power as brought out through the data collected for this study. Data, consisting of five recorded discourses from sampled negotiation sessions and five focus group discussions from Kiambu County Kenya, was translated, transcribed and analysed with a view of examining how people use language to accomplish social acts. The findings are that language use, linguistic or non-linguistic, demonstrates that Gikuyu marriage negotiation discursive domain is male dominated, it constructs roles and identities and also defines how people can have power over others to a level that they control their behavior. It is hoped that the findings will be useful to all language users in this domain as well as contributing to knowledge in discourse analysis. 

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