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Languages contain anaphors such as reflexives and reciprocals. The occurrence of anaphors in an utterance attracts a number of interpretations. This is probably because anaphors derive reference from the antecedent that occurs before them in a sentence. These anaphors are marked either the same way or differently as reflexives in languages in the world. Dholuo language, for instance, marks the reflexive and the reciprocal by the same morpheme, which poses some ambiguity in their interpretation. This paper aims at investigating the interpretation of anaphors in Dholuo in different contexts to ascertain their relevance in utterances. A descriptive design was employed to describe the anaphors using Relevance Theory (RT) as the tool for analysis. The study used primary data elicited intuitively by the researcher and from respondents, and secondary data drawn from publications. In order to ensure validity, data was verified by six adult native speakers selected through purposeful sampling technique. Data collected was presented systematically, then analyzed procedurally. Cognitive and Communicative Principles of RT were employed to describe the relevance of the anaphoric utterances in the utterance. These principles work together with Relevance Comprehension Procedure (RCP) to ensure explicit interpretation of the utterance in different contexts. Result indicates that Dholuo anaphors are disambiguated as reflexives and reciprocals when context is introduced. In essence, implied meaning of the utterance is well understood by the speaker and the listener which is attributed to the frequency of use of the anaphor. However, RT may fail to provide immediate interpretation of the utterance with the prevailing context. This led to violation of the RCP as more contexts are presented to ensure the right interpretation is reached. This calls for the theory to accommodate utterances that require a lot of effort to interpret.

Anaphor, antecedent, context, relevance, utterance

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ONYANGO, J. A., & NANDELENGA, H. S. (2021). A RELEVANCE THEORY ACCOUNT OF DHOLUO ANAPHORS. Journal of Basic and Applied Research International, 27(5), 11-17. Retrieved from https://www.ikprress.org/index.php/JOBARI/article/view/6719
Original Research Article


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