A Contrastive Analysis of English and Hausa Proverbs in Selected Texts

A Contrastive Analysis of English and Hausa Proverbs in Selected Texts


This study is a Contrastive Analysis of English and Hausa proverbs in selected text. The study considered three (3) research questions which were based on the similarities and differences between the English and Hausa proverbs. The sample population covers collections of hundred (100) proverbs. The data collected were subjected to comparison at different levels. Quick‟s structural mode land Wilson‟s model are used. Banathy’s contrastive model is then used to describe proverbs according to form, patterns, distribution and variations. Overall findings on the similarities and differences of English and Hausa proverbs were stated. i.e. the forms, patterns, distributions and varieties of English and Hausa proverbs are similar with some little differentiations. Proverbs however, that are culture-bond are those that posed difficulties for learning and translation from Hausa language to English.Implications for pedagogy and curriculum developers were presented.This study recommended that the English and Hausa proverbs should be given adequate consideration so as to improve students‟ performance on the use of English proverbs.


L1First Language
L2Second Language
MTMother Tongue
CAContrastive Analysis
CLAContrastive Linguistic Analysis
ICAImmediate Constituent Analysis
TGGTransformational Generative Grammar
TESLTeaching English as a Second Language
NPNominal Phrase
VPVerbal Phrase
Adj PhrAdjectival Phrase
Adv PhrAdverbial Phrase
SVASubject, Verb, Adjunct
SVOSubject, Verb, Object
SVCSubject, Verb, Complement
SVOCSubject, Verb, Object, Complement
SVOCASubject, Verb, Object, Complement and Adjunct


Form: This refers to the arrangement of or part, of words that follow correct ordering of English sentence pattern.

Pattern: Regular arrangement of sentence structures that strictly follows rules of sentence formation in English. I.e. (SVOCA), as well as the changing patterns of these sentence structures in Hausa language.

Distribution: The way and manner in which a proverb of a particular situation or register is used among a particular group of people.

Variety: This refers to the component of sentence element and their functional position that a linguistic unit can occupy in a sentence.


Title page i

Declaration ii
Certification iii
Dedication iv
Acknowledgements v
Abstract viii
Definition of Operational Terms ix
Abbreviations Used x
Table of Contents xi
CHAPTER ONE: Introduction
1.1 Background of the Study 1
1.2 Statement of the Problem 2
1.3 Basic Assumptions 2
1.4 Objectives of the Study 2
1.5 Research Questions 3
1.6 Research Hypotheses 3
1.7 Significance of the Study 5
1.8 Scope and Delimitation 5
1.9 Summary 5


1.1 Introduction 6
2.1 Proverbs in English Language 6
2.2 Definition of Proverbs 12
2.3 Origin of English Proverbs 10
2.4 Origin of Hausa Proverbs
2.4 Characteristics of Proverbs 11
2.5 Types of Proverbs 13
2.6 Proverbs and Context 15
2.7 Hausa Language and Proverbs 16
2.8 The Features of Hausa Proverbs 17
2.9 Types of Hausa Proverbs 20
2.9. Linguistic Basis of Contrastive Analysis 23
2.10 Contrastive Analysis and Applied Linguistics 24
2.11 Contrastive Analysis and Bilingualism 24
2.12 The Psycholinguistic Of Contrastive Analysis 25
2.13 Contrastive Linguistic Analysis in the Present Day 26
2.14 Models of Contrastive Linguistics Analysis 29
2.15.1 Descriptive Models 29
2.15.2 Traditional Grammar 29
2.15.3 Structural Grammar 30
2.15.4 Immediate Constituent Analysis (IC) 30
2.15.5 Transformational Generative Grammar (TG) 31
2.15.6 Functional Systemic Grammar 31
2.15.7 Sector Analysis 32

2.15.8 Communicative Model 33
2.15.9 Banathy’s Model of Contrastive 33
2.16 Wilson Model of Proverbs Translation: 35
2.17 Component of Wilson’s Model 36
2.18 Comparative Linguistics 37
2.19 Previous Studies of English and Hausa Proverbs 38
2.20 Theoretical Framework 39
2.21 Summary: Literature Review 39

CHAPTER THREE: Methodology

3.1 Introduction 40

3.2 Research Design 40

3.3 Population 41

3.4 Sampling Technique 41

3.5 Instrument 41

3.6 Procedure for Data Collection 42

3.7 Method of Data Analysis 42

3.8 Summary:Research Methodology 42

CHAPTER FOUR: Presentation and Analysis of Data

4.1 Introduction 43

4.2 Data Analysis 43

4.3 Description of English Proverbs 44

4.4 Description of Hausa Proverbs 48

4.5 Contrast between English and Hausa Proverbs 52

4.6 Contrasting English and Hausa Proverbs Using Banathy’s Model 55

4.6.1 Banathy’s (1968) Contrastive Model 55

4.7 Wilson Model of Proverb Translation 58

4.7.1Peaceful Living 58

4.7.2 Knowledge58

4.7.3 Patience 59

4.7.4 Honesty, Truth, and Objectivity 60

4.7.5 Caution 61

4.7.6 Precaution (Lura/Rigakafi) 62

4.7.7 Diligence (Himma) 62

4.7.8Contentment 63

4.7.9 Goodness and virtuosity 64

4.7.10 Amusing Merry Making and Enjoyable 65

4.7.11 Didactic, Adorning 66

4.7.12 Hierarchy 68

4.8 Prediction of Similarities and Differences 68

4.9 Similarities of English and Hausa Proverbs 69

4.10 Overall Findings 74

4.11 Discussions of Findings 74

CHAPTER FIVE: Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations

5.1 Introduction 80

5.2 Summary 80

5.3 Conclusion 82

5.4 Recommendations for Further Research 82

5.5 Implication for Pedagogy 83

5.6 Reference 84



Background of the Study

This research intends to provide an analysis of proverbs as a way of examining the possible similarities and differences between English Proverbs and Hausa proverbs. This, it is hoped, would assist the reader in understanding the application of proverbial features in English and Hausa. The study is in line with aspects of comparative linguistics where systems of different languages are compared. According to Usman cited in Attat (2005:2):

Since we are dealing with comparative linguistics here, it might be adequate to explain that the phrase is used in two senses; it may simply mean that branch of linguistics concerned with comparison of various languages. In that sense, contrastive linguistics which aims at pointing out the typological similarities and differences between languages is part of comparative linguistics.

In the view of Amfani (2009), African languages can only be adequately classified, analyzed, and described if comparative approach is adopted by all stake-holders in the study of the languages. In this regard, many writers have written on the values of contrastive analysis and among such literature is Lado. (1957:2-3). According to him, the differences that may exist between languages could be the causes of difficulties that speakers of first language (L1) may experience while speaking the Second language (L2) (Lado 1957:2-3). Banathy‟s article on the potentials and limitations of contrastive linguistics analysis shares the same views with Lado (1969). These views show that knowing the linguistics and cultural elements of the first and second Language (L2) would help teachers focus more attention on the areas of need to be stressed. Also related to the study are the works of Nickel and Parren (1971) which are concerned with the contrast and similarities which can help in the study of applied linguistics and construction of language teaching courses.

Based on close observation, the presence of proverbial errors explains the students‟ inability to use appropriate proverbs, semantic categories and other linguistic units. Errors made by Hausa students while translating a proverb into English has become a source of concern .The research became interested in these problems as a result of classroom interaction, examining and marking of students‟ scripts (i.e.Neco and Waec) both in English and Hausa subjects.

In line with the above inspiration, comparative analysis of English and Hausa proverbs is important as it would enable the English as a second language teacher to understand the causes of errors committed by learners and which he would use to explain the implication of directly translating Hausa proverbs to English; consequently, this however may not always produce equivalent meaning because the two languages have different proverbial structures.

Contrastive analysis pre-occupies itself with two basic formulations namely, finding language differences and language similarities at the phonological, syntactic and lexical levels between two languages. These help to predict the learner‟s errors in the differences between the (L1) and (L2). Predicting the learners‟ errors will help researchers in language teaching to make assumptions about possible learning difficulties by anybody learning a second language. It is also expected that once the areas of potential difficulties had been mapped out through comparative analysis, it would be possible to design language courses more efficiently.

Statement of the Problem

Most Hausa learners of English as a second language erroneously assume that the two languages under study have common proverbial patterns and that there are no differences between proverbs in English and Hausa languages. These assumptions could be seen as a sweeping generalization that cannot be substantiated. By and large, this assumption creates some kind of confusion which makes learning, and interpretation of Hausa proverbs to English more difficult. The phenomenon of proverbs across languages is often more complex or intriguing than it is as first assumed. The situation is even more difficult to characterize when some assumptions have been made between English and Hausa proverbs.

Over a period of time, Hausa and English have co-existed in Nigeria. Both have been used as medium of instruction at different levels of education. However, only few studies have been carried out on what resemblances or differences the two languages manifest in the use of proverbs. Therefore, this research intends to identify those obstacles faced by Hausa learners of English in the areas of proverbs. Also, it intends to highlight and discusses the linguistic and cultural problems in translating the traditional arts forms, Hausa proverbs into English.

Basic Assumptions

It is assumed that difficulties could result where differences in the proverb pattern arise, especially where there are differences between the two languages. This may constitute a source of learning problems and misinterpretation of meaning.

Objectives of the Study

This study is concerned with comparative study of proverbs in selected English and Hausa written literary texts. The study is intended to achieve the following objectives.

1. Find similarities between Hausa and English proverbs.

2. Determine the differences that may exist between Hausa and English proverbs

3. Examine the areas of difficulties between English and Hausa proverbs.

Research Questions

This study raises and attempts to address the following research questions.

Q1. To what extend is English proverb similar to Hausa proverbs?

Q2. In what way is the English proverb different from Hausa proverb?

Q3. What difficulties do Hausa L1 speakers encounter when translating English proverbs to Hausa proverbs?

Significance of the Study

The selection of this research topic is a response to the various calls made by language specialists, linguists, and educationists, that there should be more research work done in the field of language both for academic and pedagogical purposes. The need for a comparative study of this magnitude is highlighted by Lado‟s assertion echoed by Alli (2008): that “…the most effective materials (that is for teachings are those that are based upon a scientific description of the language to be learned carefully contrasted with a parallel description of the native language of the learners.”

In addition to the above, the Fafunwa Educational Foundation Survey of Language Education in Nigeria (1998) among other things proposed that: “Further works should be continued and extended including Contrastive analysis between English and all other Nigerian Languages which are used as medium for instruction in the Nigerian schools.” However, this research would be more significant to contribute its quarter as significant aspect of language development. The first reason to study proverbs is that they are there as a part of language. Like idioms, proverbs form-meaningful units which must be included in any complete language description.

This study, therefore, is also a modest response to the appeals by those quoted above. The comparison of the two languages structurally and especially on how they lend themselves. Proverbs are envisaged to be of great value not only in facilitating the preparation for pedagogical needs but also in enhancing competence in language use and translation. Example, in translation, but more importantly in contributing to the refinement and validation of the linguistic theory itself.

Secondly, the study is significant in two fundamental ways. The findings from the study would be of immense use to the language learners and Hausa language researchers especially those dealing with English and Hausa proverbs. Closely related to the above is the fact that the study would be of tremendous help to the language teachers dealing with Hausa speakers of English who might find similarities between the two languages. Hence, the study is ultimately significant, for the procedures followed; the findings reached could be applied to study in some other languages apart from these.

Similarly, the research would benefit the textbook writers in the sense that it would reveal the need for reconsideration in the case of language use with particular emphasis on proverb use especially in situation where such was not applicable in the past, corrections would be done to improve usage and create more effect in production.

Also, the implementers of any curriculum or policy would find the work useful as it suggests avenues for managing the effects of the identified difficulties, thereby enhancing effective language proficiency of the pupils. Moreover, since this is an area in which functional researches need to be carried out, this work might prove significant in serving as part of the literature to be reviewed in further researches. Furthermore, it is hoped that the outcome of the current study would be a useful tool for general public who have interest in studying proverbs from Hausa to English language and vice-versa.

Most importantly, this study would be another contribution to the CLA between Nigerian languages and English which, as observed by Adeyanju, (1979:16) and Olaofe, (1982:22), “there was a great need for more CLAs in Nigeria languages”. Expressing his dismay on the low number of the English teachers, in English, that has received training in Contrastive Linguistic Analysis, Awobuluyi (1998) point to this fact.

To make matters worse still, most of the teachers have no training in Contrasting Linguistics and therefore are unable to understand and consequently devise effective pedagogical strategies for combating the mostly mother tongue induced kinds of learner errors that recur in their pupils‟ written and oral performances in the language. (Awobuluyi, 1998:9)

Furthermore, the current study is very significant to the language development of our nation. This is because it is a contribution to the language development and there is a close relationship between language, education and development. Pweddon (1997) observes that English is an economic necessity, in Nigeria, one need to be able to speak and write it well to succeed as an individual. This position was corroborated by Olaofe (1998:19) when he remarks that:

…there is a perceptible interdependence between education, language and development; development depends on education, which in turn, depends to a large extend, on language development. In fact, language stands rock solid in any educational system, especially because it is the medium by which educational concepts are imparted and learnt. (Olaofe 1998:19)

Oyetade (2003) strongly believes that language is an aspiration for national development and aptly describes it as a precious resource of a people, embracing their intellectual wealth, their view of the world, their identity and their verbal art.

Finally, in addition to the above statement, this exercise may add to the pool of language data made available by Contrastive Linguistic Analysis (CLA).

Scope and Delimitation

This study is limited to the areas of contrastive analysis of English and Hausa proverbs in selected texts. It aims at identifying the similarities and differences between proverb usages in the two languages using Wilson (2009) model of proverb translation and Banathy’s (1968) contrastive model. The choice of this model is set to described the fact that proverb is part of language that links all the other unit of language together, such as lexical, syntactic and semantic field of studies. Each unit of this proverb can be described on its own right.

Proverbs are the embodiment of many other parts of cultural heritage such as epithet (kirari), (habaici) and therefore, studying it will pave ways to all the rest, as it cut across other genres. i.e. poetry, prose and drama.


This Chapter among other things attempted to make a general introduction of the value of Comparative studies to second language teaching and learning. The chapter also, stresses the needs, inspirations and reasons for undertaking a research of this kind, its aims and objectives, its significance, scope and limitation etc.

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