The Palm Oil

I was thinking about the richness of proverbs. “The palm oil with which words are eaten” certainly sounds delicious. There is something not very European or at least not very anglo about this notions. Should language be simple and direct, perhaps more efficient? Or should it be more decorated and fruitful. Certain people would prefer a simple and direct language, it depends who you are. If you have a lot to say it might be better to simply say it. However I do find that this richness in language can be useful. We can speak with beauty even in simple ways.

Certain languages tend to be more circular in their way of speaking, spanish or italian, while others are more direct and efficient like english. If we were to extend the metaphor of eating words I think everyone would rather eat fruit or meat with palm oil or wine than simply eating bread with water.

One of the main points in Things Fall Apart is language. This richness and simple elegance in Ibo speech gives the African people a sophistication which they don’t have in Heart of Darkness. It fills their world with complexity and the intricacies of social norms and behaviors. Simply through language African “primitive” societies are shown to be equally complex and sophisticated as any other.

3 Thoughts.

  1. I’m curious, since I don’t know Spanish or Italian, how one might see that speaking in those languages is more circular, less direct and efficient like English. Can you describe this to someone who doesn’t speak those languages, or is it too difficult?

    • Now that I think of it, I am not quite it is for spanish as a language because people in Spain speak quiet directly but it definitely is a cultural thing from Latin America. People tend to talk in circles a lot meaning they talk around the point and take a long time to say what they mean. In the end they don’t even say it directly they imply it. It wouldn’t be through proverbs but what I meant is that people use a lot of palm oil in their conversations.

  2. Interesting! I didn’t realize that. I do see that sometimes here, but it’s not really a thing I’d notice or think was common. I’ll have to ask my husband about Costa Rica: his father lives there, and he spent a few years growing up there. We visit pretty often too. I wonder if talking around a point is common there as well.

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