Journal of
Languages and Culture

  • Abbreviation: J. Lang. Cult.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-6540
  • DOI: 10.5897/JLC
  • Start Year: 2010
  • Published Articles: 130

Full Length Research Paper

Exploring Environmental Discourses in oral literature: Ecocritical analysis of Oromo proverbs

Ashenafi Belay Adugna
  • Ashenafi Belay Adugna
  • Department of English Language and Literature, Jimma University, Ethiopia.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 04 September 2013
  •  Accepted: 08 April 2014
  •  Published: 30 June 2014


This study explored environmental discourses inscribed in Oromo proverbial lore. Its specific concern was with the analysis of place accorded to nature and the role of human’s relation with the physical environment. Oral literature carries values long held in the society, and divulging into folk-ideas reveals the people’s definition of self in relation to nature and their accountability towards it. To this end, proverbs were collected from elders in two zones of Oromia regional state (Guji and Eastern Hararghe). Besides, proverbs published in book volumes were used as an additional data for analyzing the indigenous environmental discourses. These proverbs were analyzed through the theoretical perspective of Ecocriticism. The analysis undertaken revealed the core beliefs and values about nature preserved in the proverbs. Four strands of thoughts (folk ideas) were identified; Nature has ‘lubbuu’/soul, and so, should be conferred an intrinsic value; Nature should be taken care of because it has instrumental value; Not all nature is equal, and some are blameworthy though useful, and finally the ignoble nature could be associated with women, and both could be considered as common targets of man’s control through the agency of entitlement. Based on the results of the study, the researcher argues that there is no one essential line of defining the Oromo folk-ideas pertaining to the issue of nature as a multiple environmental discourses are presented in the proverbs. 

Key words: Proverbs, ecocriticism, Oromo, environment, nature, environmental discourse, oral literature.