A pragmatic study of Kipsigis euphemisms: form, functions and interpretation
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This study looked at the pragmatic form, function and interpretation of euphemisms as used by the Kipsigis. It defined euphemisms according to Allan and Burridge (1991) as alternatives to dis-preffered expressions used in order to avoid possible loss of face. The study purposed to group euphemisms into categories according to functions, to study euphemisms as negative politeness and off-record strategies in Kipsigis and to explore the influence of social distance among the Kipsigis on the use of euphemisms. The theoretical framework adopted is based on politeness theory formulated by Brown and Levinson (1987) which postulates that people use politeness as a way of known deception, in order to help preserve each other’s face needs and avoid face threatening acts. The study used purposive sampling to collect focused information as it selects typical and useful cases only and saves on time and money as put forth by Oso and Onen (2005). The target population was of Kipsigis natives who consisted of ten adults of forty years and above who were considered to be well versed with their culture and values as well as twenty youths ranging between the ages of eighteen to thirty years so as to bring out the influence of age on the usage of euphemisms. The total sample was made up of twenty males and ten females so as to establish the influence of gender on euphemistic usage. The tools used for data collection were questionnaires, observations and oral interviews. The target population was drawn from Kapsoit location of Kericho County. This is mainly due to the fact that the researcher is a native speaker of kipsigis dialect. The study established that Kipsigis euphemisms can be grouped according to functions. In addition to that, Kipsigis interlocutors exhibit both negative politeness and off record politeness strategies in their day to day conversations. The usage of such euphemisms is influenced by social distance such as gender and age.
University of Nairobi