British Journal of English Linguistics (BJEL)

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Gap-Filling as an Explicatural Strategy in Fictional Discourse: The Example of Chimamanda Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus


Two notable approaches have preoccupied the analysis of Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus (PH) in humanistic scholarship, namely, the literary and linguistic ones, with greater attention from the former. Linguistic studies on PH have largely benefitted from the stylistic, discoursal and pragmatic perspectives. This paper complements the pragmatic attempts in its adoption of Sperber and Wilson’s relevance theoretic notion of explicature in carrying out a pragmatic investigation of how gap-filling is deployed to recover explicit meanings of conversations with respect to Adichie’s thematic foci across the discourse domains of conversations in PH, sampling forty percent of the transactions in the novel. The findings reveal the recovery of the themes of domestic discourse and resistance against domestic violence in Domestic Discourse (DD); leadership crisis, which features as deprivation of the citizens social amenities on the one hand and corruption on the other in Political Discourse (PD); and rejection of religious imposition in Religious Discourse (RD) as part of the communicated assumptions in characters’ utterances in the text. The paper concludes that this relevance-constrained cognitive investigation of explicatures of conversations in Adichie’s PH facilitates access to a contextually derived espousal of domestic, political, and religious matters in this text, thereby providing a better access to the overall interpretation of the text.

Keywords: Adichie, Contextually Derived, Explicit Meanings, Fictional Discourse, Gap-Filling, Strategy

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