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Title: Cultural reference in modern Ghanaian English-language fiction : ways of encoding, authorial strategies and reader interpretation
Author: Egri Ku-Mesu, Katalin
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2004
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Modern Ghanaian English-language fiction came into existence in the mid-1960s. The hybrid nature of this literature, resulting from the fact that it is written by authors of a particular cultural and linguistic background in the language of a different culture, often poses problems of comprehension, and hence interpretation, for readers who do not share the author’s cultural and linguistic background. Communication between the Europhone African writer and his multiple audience becomes complex not only as a result of the writer’s indigenising the European language so that it can carry his African experience, but also because of the (partial) lack of common ground between reader and writer. In the current work I study a particular aspect of this peculiar interpretive situation through examining how cultural reference is encoded in modern Ghanaian English-language fiction, what textual strategies writers employ to facilitate understanding of such reference and the effect these strategies have on reader interpretation. The findings suggest that the indigenisation of English is necessitated by a ‘naming’ process - the which to find names in English for things, phenomena and practices that are culturally alien to it. Indigenisation also serves to inscribe the Ghanaian writer’s difference and distance from the culture whose language he has chosen for literary expression, thereby creating a metonymic gap. Readers are divided along this gap, and their position in relation to it is indicative of their ability to interpret untranslated/unexplained African-language words/expression in the text. The authorial strategies intended to make the texts more accessible to the readers all have some promise, but eventually all may prove ineffective because they try to cater for the needs of a rather mixed and ill-defined readership. The research provides evidence that the Ghanaian writer’s indigenisation of English and provision of authorial assistance is driven by the perceived need and tolerance of the audience, and by a compulsion on the writer to conform to a way of writing that is critically recognised as African.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available