Catherine Nyambura Gitonga, Moses Gatambuki Gathigia, Naom Nyarigoti


Hyponymy is a fundamental semantic relation which highlights the relationship between a generic term (hypernym) and a specific instance of it (hyponym). In order to understand hyponymy, the inclusion relation between a hypernym and hyponymy within a lexical field must be interpreted. This study, therefore, looks at hyponymy in Gĩkũyũ church sermons with a view of interpreting the nexus between hypernym and hyponyms. The study also looks at the influence of gender on hyponyms used in Gĩkũyũ church sermons. The study is anchored in the Semantics Field Theory (SFT). The Semantics Field Theory is a study of word meanings that stresses the way meanings are related in a particular area of the lexis. The study employed a descriptive survey research design. Data was collected through tape recording of eight live sermons delivered in the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA) in Nyeri County, Kenya. Content analysis was used to describe hyponymy in Gĩkũyũ church sermons. The hyponyms used in Gĩkũyũ church sermons were classified into four broad semantic fields of animals, human beings, religion and objects. The study also found that there are super-ordinate terms, sub-ordinate terms and sets of co-hyponyms manifested in the Gĩkũyũ church sermons. The study also noted that hyponymy sense relation is used more by women than men in Gīkũyũ church sermons. The study concludes that hyponymy is employed in Gĩkũyũ church sermons in order to create relationships between hyponyms and super-ordinate terms. The study recommends the use of hyponymy in Gĩkũyũ church sermons as well as in other domains like songs and prayers. The findings of this study will be of importance to lexical semanticists and other scholars in linguistics as they will highlight the nexus between hypernyms and hyponyms.


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