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“Burying Old Bones in New Graves!” Linguistic Creativity with a Focus on Women’s Eligibility for Marriage in Zulu Memetic Aphorisms

Evangeline B Zungu

Abstract


In oral cultures, proverbs are a window to the very fabric of society. This article looks at how the current generation is using traditional proverbs in modern ways, by employing Zulu memetic aphorisms. These memetic aphorisms function in the same manner as memes; except that the former has no images underneath the writing. Memetic aphorisms are written in Zulu; however, they involve a lot of codeswitching and use of numbers instead of words. These memetic aphorisms are factual, ironical, funny, and use word play. They are generally acceptable comments and meaningful assertions about life in general. Memetic aphorisms have become an easy and quick way to communicate opinions of the speaker regarding the behaviour, dress code, physical appearance, social status and religious affiliation. This article will look at how the content of these memetic aphorisms is organised to criticise and shun the bad behaviour of women in an effort to prepare them for marriage. It will also look at the correlation between the languages of memes, as it relates to traditional proverbs in Zulu. The article proposes a simple typology for analysing and identifying common features between the aphorisms and traditional proverbs in Zulu social discourse. These memetic aphorisms gain their relevance and meaning in the context within which they are used.


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.25159/1016-8427/2216

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