The Igbo Metaphor: A Study in Truth Conditional SemanticsNneji, Ogechukwu Miracleogechukwumiracle@yahoo.com, +2348063622121Department of Linguistics Igbo and Other Nigerian Languages,Unigersity of Nigeria, NsukkaAbstract
The complexity of the word ‘meaning’ has led to the devotion of a whole subfield of linguistics (semantics) to its study and analysis. The meaning of an utterance is said to be itstruth conditions, which are assumed to be established by two components: syntacticalstructure and the referents of structureless terms. On this backdrop, this paper studies anaspect of semantics originally discussed by Tarski as Truth Conditional Semantics and how itapplies to the Igbo language metaphorical expressions. The use theory of meaning whichclaims that the meaning of an entity is what the society gives it forms the framework for thestudy. The paper argues that Truth Conditional Semantics is not descriptively adequate andtherefore not a good criterion for determining the truth in a sentence or proposition. Thisargument is evident in the failure of this semantic theory to provide the truth conditions of metaphors. The paper supports the opinion of Searle that sentence meaning is different fromutterance meaning citing several examples from the Igbo language which leads to ourconclusion that truth conditional semantics can only offer the sentence or literal meaning of utterances and not their utterance meanings. It therefore recommends that truth conditionalsemantics should not be seen as the sole determinant of the truth or otherwise of anylinguistic statement since it does not apply to natural languages.
The semantic conception of truth which is related in different ways to both thecorrespondence and deflationary conceptions is due to the work published by Tarski in 1933.The correspondence theory of truth has it that the truth or otherwise of a statement is onlydetermined by how it relates to the world, and whether it accurately describes that world.Davidson’s (1978) deflationary theory, supported by Searle (1993) on the other hand, is oneof such theories which claim that assertions predicating the truth of a statement do notattribute a property called truth to such a statement. This means that there is no specialcategory of metaphorical meaning distinct from literal meaning.
Truth Conditional Semantics (TCS) is an approach to semantic theory principallyassociated with Tarski but later developed by, and applied to language by the Britishphilosopher Donald Davidson in
Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation
published in 1984.