Patterns of Lexical Choices and Stylistic Function in J.P. Clark-Bekederemo’s Poetry

Ebi Yeibo


Previous studies on J.P. Clark-Bekederemo’s poetry have concentrated on literary and some linguistic features, highlighting the relation of theme and figuration in the works. However, such studies have paid little attention to the role lexical relations play in foregrounding stylistic functions, which is very crucial for a comprehensive interpretation and understanding of the poet’s idiolect. This study, therefore, investigates the stylistic value of sense relations, lexis and thematization, and indigenous idioms in the texts.
Michael Halliday’s three metafunctions of language (i.e. ideational, interpersonal, and textual), within the broad discourse-stylistic theoretical framework, were used for the analysis, especially as they reflect the interface between form and function. Six volumes, which cut across the three distinctive phases of the poet’s creative career (i.e. early: 1958-1968, A Decade of Tongues; later: 1970-1988, Casualties, State of the Union, Mandela and other Poems; latest: 1999-date, Of Sleep and Old Age, Once Again a Child), were purposively selected for a detailed investigation.
The textual metafunction has particularly facilitated the investigation of synonymy, antonymy, hyponymy, contradiction, lexis and thematization, and cultural idioms, as elements of signification and cohesion in the texts, in relation to their social and ideological context. The study reveals that, lexical patterns are deliberately deployed to convey aspects of meaning and achieve cohesion in the texts. Specifically, synonymy functions as an element of semantic unity; Antonymy, of semantic contrast; Hyponymy, of inclusive meaning; Contradiction, of paradoxical relations; Lexis, of thematization; and indigenous idioms, of cultural meaning. It also reveals that all these devices function as elements of cohesion and coherence in the texts.
The study demonstrates that the choices a particular writer makes from alternative linguistic resources at his disposal, are determined by the subject matter and other social and contextual variables. It, therefore, enhances the understanding and interpretation of J.P. Clark-Bekederemo’s poetic idiolect in particular, and literary discourse in general.

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International Journal of English Linguistics   ISSN 1923-869X (Print)   ISSN 1923-8703 (Online)   E-mail:

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