The Implications of Language and Power in Gikuyu Marriage Negotiation Discursive Domain, for Kenya’s Vision 2030
Kinuthia, Jane Wanjiku
Mutiti, Yakobo J.K.
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This study was conceived on the premise that there are connections between language use and unequal relations of power and there is widespread underestimation of the significance of language in the production, maintenance and change of social relations of power. There is therefore need to help increase consciousness of how language contribute to the domination of some people by others since consciousness is the first step towards emancipation. Some commonsense assumptions which are implicit in the conventions according to which people interact linguistically are identifiable in conventions which follow a pattern where one party seems more powerful as seen in the way they control the process of talk such as in the Gikuyu marriage negotiation discursive domain. This paper focuses on the formal discursive process of negotiating and legalising marriage in the domain of ‘Ruracio’ or bride wealth payment amongst the Agikuyu of Kenya. Data, consisting of five recorded discourses from sampled negotiation sessions and five focus group discussions from Kiambu County Kenya, was translated, transcribed and analysed with a view of investigating language use for power potentialities. Guided by principles of language and power, the study established that language use in this domain defines power differentials and this has a direct influence on how people think, act and view their society. This paper argues that such potentialities would be instrumental in building a free and fair society as envisioned in the social pillar of Kenya’s Vision 2030.This way, Linguistics as an area of study would be contributing to social development. It is hoped that the findings will be useful to all language users, leaders in general and policy makers in our country.