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  • Type:Project
  • Chapters:5
  • Pages:62
  • Methodology:Descriptive
  • Reference:YES
  • Format:Microsoft Word
(English Project Topics & Materials)

The ecphonesis Chinwetalu Agu employs in movies are not just mere phrases, clichés, slangs or mere hilarious comments but are of immense relevance to the realization of the theme of the movies where he employs them. This research discusses the various roles which the ecphonesis play in realizing the theme of the selected five Nollywood movies to include; message transmission, cohesion marking and incitement of emotions. In the second chapter where the role of ecphonesis in the transmission of messages is treated, societal background and context are identified as necessary tools that contribute to the effective transmission of the messages encoded in the ecphonesis. In the third chapter, Chinwetalu Agu’s ecphonesis is established as a unifying device in the movies where they are employed. Whereas the themes of the movies are broader and stretches through the entire movie, the ecphonesis which Agu utters repeatedly stitches the plot of the movie together, for the purpose of the realization of the themes. The third chapter of this essay explores how the ecphonesis incites emotions through the diction of the ecphonesis and the tone of the actor.
Purpose of Study    -    -    -    -    -    -    -
Scope of Study    -    -    -    -    -    -
Research Methodology    -    -    -    -    -    -
About the Actor    -    -    -    -    -    -    
Theoretical Background    -    -    -    -    -
Literature Review    -    -    -    -    -    -    
Thesis Statement    -    -    -    -    -    
2.1 Cultural and Societal Significance    -    -    -    -
2.2 Ecphonesis and Context    -    -    -    -    -    -    
3.1 Unity of Ideas    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    
3.2 Emphasis through Repetition    -    -    -    -    -    
4.1 Tone and Diction as Emotion Facilitators    -    -    -
4.2 Facilitating Catharsis through Situational Irony    -    -    
Conclusion    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    -
Work Cited    -    -    -    -    -    -
This research is undertaken for several reasons. Firstly, it sets to find out whether the ecphonesis Chinwetalu Agu employs in movies have any relevance to the thematic pre-occupation of the movies. Since elements of art are meant to enhance the over-all engagement of the particular piece of art. Chinwetalu Agu's ecphonesis is not an exception. Are they merely catch-phrases or do they serve as any form of enhancement to the themes? And if they are truly relevant, what are the various functions they perform? This research brings to fore the unsung creativity in the Nollywood industry. Such knowledge will change people's negative perception about the industry and make more researchers interested in working on other areas of creativity in Nollywood.
Movies that starred Chinwetalu Agu constitute materials for this study. Five of such movies are selected at random for this research. This is because it is too ambitious studying each of the about seven hundred and seventy-two movies that the actor has acted. The five selected movies provide an insight on the actor’s use of ecphonesis. This is as a result of the actor’s employment of different ecphonesis at different instances in them. The movies employ in this study are selected because Chinwetalu Agu had played major roles in them and so had applied ecphonesis in them. As it is discovered in the course of this research that some movies, where he played minor roles are devoid of them. Furthermore, the five movies are the ones accessible for this research through YouTube, as getting them in VCD format proved to be a bad idea. This is because the motion pictures are usually cracked by misuse or use of substandard materials in their production. Hence, the movies used in this study include: Village Dreamers, Spiritual Mama, Goal Goal, Trouble Husband and Catechist.
The methods employed in carrying out this research involve a qualitative and subjective study of the five selected Nollywood movies. Firstly, the movies are viewed attentively. This allows for familiarization with the text. Secondly, the ecphonesis and the instances where Chinwetalu Agu has employed them are extracted onto paper. Thirdly, a subjective analysis is undertaken by relating a particular ecphonesis to the context and to the overall plot, in order to arrive at their functions in delivering the themes of the movies.
A brief account of the life of the actor is deemed necessary as this research involves studying a work of art through the personality of the actor involved.
According to Wikipedia, Chiwetalu Agu a native of Enugu state, Nigeria was born in 1956. As a Nollywood veteran, he combines acting, comedy and movie production. In 2012, he won the Nollywood award for 'best actor in indigenous movie'. He is unique and endeared to his fans both in Nigeria and abroad through his use of specific language slang in his films. Some other persons may choose to call those slangs, phrases or clichés or even hilarious exclamations. However, in this long essay I have chosen to call them- ecphonesis, for reasons which is subsequently explained. While asserting that comic genres is a unique means in projecting Nigerian culture and image globally as well as establishing the Nollywood brand, Prof Femi Shaka of the University of Port Harcourt lists Agu as one of the outstanding comedians who have contributed to the development of Nollywood comic genres. Agu is happily married to Nkechi and they have three sons and two daughters.
Wikipedia provides an account of the actor’s early years, acting career, filmography, nominations and awards.
Early years
“Agu's ingenuity is evident from his early beginning at Nigerian television soap operas to his pioneering role in Nollywood. Some thirty-one years ago, television soap opera dominated television performances in Nigeria and Agu featured in many of them including: Nigerian Television Authority Channel 8 Enugu's Ikoro, produced by Joe Onyekwelu, Others include ETV Channel 50, now ESBS, soaps like BabyComeNow and Ripples (in Lagos), produced by Chico Ejiro's brother, Zeb; in the latter he played the character of Chief Abunna.”
Acting career
Wikipedia attest to Agu’s creative use of wit, humour, invention of specific clichés, customized slangs or phrases in every film as his contribution as one of the foremost actors in Nollywood. For his numerous fans, he is fun to watch any day. “What amazes most watchers is how he combines his well-disciplined life with the wicked or devilish roles he acts in films. Even though Agu has the versatility to play the roles of comedian, wicked or tricky person, he sometimes finds it difficult to reconcile his lifestyle with the negative roles he plays, admitting that he sometimes shed tears for his characters.”
Chinwetalu Agu has been cast in numerous movies that in one of his interviews he had put the number at 727. The figure must have increased at the time of writing this long essay. Such movies according to Wikipedia include: Last Ofalla 1-4, Taboo where he played the role of Ichie Ogwu, Ripples, Return of Justice By Fire in 2008, Traditional Marriage 1 & 2, Fire on the Mountain 1 & 2, Dr. Thomas, Burning kingdom 1 & 2 in 2007,  The Priest Must Die, The Price of Sacrifice, The Catechist, Police Recruit, Sunrise 1 & 2, Old School 1-3, Honorable 1 & 2, Sounds of Love 1 & 2, Nkwocha, Things Fall Apart in 1986, Across the Niger, The Plain Truth 1 & 2, Sounds of Love 1 & 2, Church Man 1 & 2 where he acted Ukpabi, Battle of the Gods 1 & 2. Others include: Holy Anger 1 & 2, Evil Twin, Beauty and the Beast 1-3, Price of the Wicked, Royal Messengers 1 & 2, Royal Destiny 1 & 2, The Maidens, etc.
In 2012, Agu was the winner of the maiden Nollywood Movie Awards for the best actor in an indigenous movie: for his role in Nkwocha.
For his role in Nkwocha, Agu was nominated for best actor in indigenous movie in first Nollywood Movie Awards in 2012: Earlier in 2011, Agu’s role in TheMaidens had earned him a nomination for ‘the best supporting actor’ at Zulu African Film Academy Awards (ZAFAA London). Likewise, Agu’s role in AcrosstheNiger earned him a nomination in fourth annual African Movie Academy Award for the best actor in a supporting role.
An adequate presentation of the theories that will lead to better understanding of this long essay will require the explanation of the concept of ecphonesis and the Theory of Conceptual Metaphor. These are the two main theoretical strands that lend themselves to the framing of our task in this long essay.
This essay prefers the employment of the word, ‘ecphonesis,’ instead of ‘exclamation’ or ‘hilarious remarks’ or ‘slangs’ or ‘clichés’ in referring to Chinwetalu Agu’s ‘catch-phrases’. Though those tags are related and can be used inter-changeably the definition of ecphonesis by authorities seems to fit Chinwetalu Agu’s catch-phrases better.
According to Wikipedia, “ecphonesis is an emotional, exclamatory phrase used in poetry, drama and song. It is a rhetorical device that originated from ancient literature”. Example is when Homer Simpson said, “Oh Joy! Rapture! I got a brain!” in The Wizard of Oz.
Chinwetalu Agu’s catch-phrases qualify for this definition as they are usually stretches of words that are coined to perform several functions. However, the difference is slight as Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia asserts that the two words are interchangeable and defines an ecphonesis as “a figure which consists in the use of an exclamation, question, or other form of words used interjectionally to express some sudden emotions such as joy, sorrow, fear, wonder, indignation, anger or impatience, also called exclamation”.
Zimmerman in his study of Allan Poe’s works defines ecphonesis as “the rhetorical term for a vehement exclamation expressing emotions” (20). He points out that Poe’s use of ecphonesis in “The Tell-Tale Heart” is a conscious attempt to achieve a prominent artistic effect. The use of an ecphonesis in that instance enables Poe to bring to fore at least two features of his protagonist’s mental sickness: mood shifts as a lack of insight.
In a study of Shakespearean drama ecphonesis is defined as, “a note of exclamation: when some great passion of mind is pathetically uttered whether it be admiration, indignation… or the like. E.g “O wretched man that I am! How unsearchable are his judgements”.  
Conceptual Metaphor Theory
This long essay employs the Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT) in analysing the relevance of Chinwetalu Agu’s ecphonesis to the realization of the themes of the movies where they are employed. According to Wikipedia, a conceptual metaphor uses one idea and links it toanother. This is due to the belief that the language of conceptual metaphors shapes our everyday communication. CMT employ a concrete concept as target in explaining an abstract concept which is the source. This proves useful in applying to how Agu’s ecphonesis help to realize theme of the movies as the ecphonesis is concrete concept used in explaining the abstract concept of theme.
The idea of a Conceptual Metaphor and a detailed examination of the underlying processes were first extensively explored by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson in their work Metaphors We Live By published in 1980. The work explains how everyday language is filled with metaphors we may not always notice. An example of one of the commonly used conceptual metaphors is "argument is war". This metaphor shapes our language in the way we view argument as war or as a battle to be won. It is not uncommon to hear someone say "He won that argument" or "I attacked every weak point in his argument". The very way argument is thought of is shaped by this metaphor of arguments being war and battles that must be won. Argument can be seen in other ways than a battle, but we use this concept to shape the way we think of argument and the way we go about arguing.
A conceptual domain can be any coherent organization of human experience. The regularity with which different languages employ the same metaphors, which often appear to be perceptually based, has led to the hypothesis that the mapping between conceptual domains corresponds to neural mappings in the brain.
There are two main roles for the conceptual domains posited in conceptual metaphors:
Source domain: the conceptual domain from which we draw metaphorical expressions (e.g., love is a journey).
Target domain: the conceptual domain that we try to understand (e.g., love is a journey).
Conceptual metaphors typically employ a more abstract concept as target and a more concrete or physical concept as their source. For instance, in the above example the concrete concept ‘journey’ (source domain) is employed in explaining the abstract concept ‘love’ (target domain). Metaphors such as 'the days [the more abstract or target concept] ahead' or 'giving my time' rely on more concrete concepts, thus expressing time as a path into physical space, or as a substance that can be handled and offered as a gift.
In the analysis of Chinwetalu Agu’s ecphonesis relevance to the theme of the selected movie, the ecphonesis is the source domain which is used in realizing the theme of the movies which forms the target domain. The ecphonesis like the source domain in conceptual metaphor is a more concrete concept, for example, ‘mgbirimgba na ogene,’ which literally means ‘bells and gongs’, whereas the theme of the movies is generally an abstract concept for example, themes of religious manipulation in Village Dreamer and so on. The role the ecphonesis plays in the realization of themes of movies becomes a typical instance of the employment of a concrete concept to realize or simplify an abstract one. This approach enables an understanding that Agu’s ecphonesis are not necessarily reference to the entity or relation in some real or possible world. Instead, meaning corresponds with a concept held in the mind based on personal understanding.
Lakoff’s Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT) is based on cognitive semantics which holds that language is part of a more general human cognitive ability, and can therefore only describe the world as people conceive it. It is implicit that there is some difference between this conceptual world and the real world.
The main tenets of cognitive semantics are very helpful in gaining an insight into Chinwetalu Agu’s ecphonesis. According to Wikipedia, cognitive semantics postulates:
-That grammar manifests a conception of the world held in a culture- this helps in understanding why Agu’s ecphonesis like ‘mgbirimgba na ogene’ which literally means ‘bell and gong’ in the movie, Village Dreamer, will be taken as the actor’s free use of words by someone who does not share, either by descent or knowledge’ the African cultural and religious background. This ecphonesis applies to the concept of religion in Africa whose symbols remain the ‘gong’ for the African traditional religion and ‘bell’ for its Christian counterpart. This very ecphonesis does not apply to religion elsewhere but only has a defined territorial significance.
-That knowledge of language is acquired and contextual- tells that meaning is not fixed but is acquired through the context of usage. Agu’s ecphonesis ‘ewu anwu m alulu n’isi’ not only has a different meaning when considered outside the context of the movie, Spiritual Mama, but also becomes a remark devoid of direction when considered outside the context of a father’s fear of losing his investment in his sons as a result of realizing that they are becoming irresponsible individuals in the society.   
-That the ability to use language draws upon general cognitive resources and not a special language module- here cognitive semantics explains that the human mind is a bank of meaning. An understanding of Agu’s ecphonesis necessitates the utilization of the resources available to the mind through experience and imagination. If one’s life experience has always involved grown-ups and reputable men in the society washing plates for money, one would not interpret the ecphonesis ‘nma sakwa efere ozo’ in the movie Goal Goal as a remark in rejection of poverty and as embodying status uplift.   
Meanwhile, cognitive semantic theories are typically built on the argument that lexical meaning is conceptual. That is, meaning is not necessarily reference to the entity or relation in some real or possible world. Instead, meaning corresponds with a concept held in the mind based on personal understanding. A trait of cognitive semantics is the recognition that meaning is not fixed but a matter of construal and conventionalization.It combines analysis of cognitive structure, conceptual structure and semantic structure. Thus cognitive semantics is by definition a cross-disciplinary approach to language where related knowledge from psychology, neurology and biology is a necessity. One immediate consequence of this redefinition is that truth cannot be described as an absolute measure but as a relative one, as pragmatic entity, which is dependent on the users and the situation. Thus meaning is no longer a function of satisfied truth-conditions, i.e., that a proposition is false does not mean that it has no meaning.
If one lacks the extra lexical information surrounding the ecphonesis- nma sakwa efere ozo- that is the semantic properties brought to the surface by the words which are not usually fitted into dictionary definitions but are essential for comprehending the statement, there will be a breach of the intended transmission.
If a person does not know that washing plates are for kids, servants and person of low cadre in the society, he or she will not see a full-grown father and husband performing the task as out of place and will fail to see the function of the ecphonesis. Similarly if the audience of the movie belong to a culture or society where a man sleeping with a woman for money is deemed socially fit. That very audience won’t find any link between the act and the derogatory ecphonesis of washing plates (no pun intended).  For there to be a communication to the hearer of the ecphonesis there should be a derivation in culture, institutions, attitudes, beliefs, typical practices and characteristic artefacts.
There is an insignificant research going on in Nollywood films. This is responsible for several reasons. Jonathan Haynes in an essay titled, “Literature Review: Nigerian and Ghanaian videos” in Haynes review and annotated bibliography points out that academic literature on Nigerian films are but few, he reveals that scholars on films in Nigeria hardly make reference to others but however admitted that the comatose in Nollywood industry over the decade negatively affected academic criticism of Nigerian films (111).
The conspicuous neglect of Nollywood is as a result of what these intelligentsias termed the “exhaustible nature” of Nollywood films. They argued that for criticism to worth its salt, the text must be inexhaustible, having the ability to have multi-dimensional approaches to it, and most importantly must be able to generate arguments and controversies.
Biodun Jeyifo said, “For everything in Nollywood is cheap to the point of excess. In plain terms, and as far as I am aware and in well documented comparative profiles of the national film traditions of the planet, Nollywood leads the rest of the world in how cheaply, how quickly and how effortlessly films are produced and released.”
Film critics such as Akande and Iroh have condemned the overall quality and narrative value of Nigerian films for several additional reasons. Iroh, for instance, condemns the “poverty of creativity, ideas, innovation and a coordinated strategic plan” in the industry. Akande, on the other hand, believes that the content of Nollywood film is predictable and always revolves around topics like, “conflict between mother-in-law and their son’s wives, scenes dealing with police battling criminals, burial and consultations with native doctors and so on”. However, most of these comments rest on personal references rather than an objective evaluation of the industry.
Speaking with Uyi Etiosa, an English and Literature under-graduate student of the University of Benin, the scholar admitted that he has never thought of doing any research on Nollywood because he does not see Nollywood as a veritable area that will yield good research results. When asked if he has been following Nollywood or patronising them recently, he concluded he could not bring himself to watch Nollywood films for what he calls nauseating production. This reveal the fact that most of the scholars have lost touch with Nollywood owing to its formal reputation for recklessness; and are unaware of the revolution going on in Nollywood industry.
Anotherschool of thought believes that the industry has done remarkable well and should be patronized. Tayo Elesin remarks that “I think Nigeria movies are getting better and better every day. That is an industry that is about 20 years and it has recorded remarkable progress in time frame. However he admonished and hopes that “…with more training for actors, producers, directors and structure put in place, the industry has the ability to make more progress in future. For instance, we need agents and managers who will deal with contracts so that artistes don’t have to be bogged down by these things”.
Furthermore, John McCall in his study of Nollywood movies wrote that “it’s hard not to get excited about the Nigerian video industry,… the video industry has laid the groundwork for what might be called the Nigerian Dream- a genuine opportunity for legitimate financial success and even celebrity, open to just about anyone with talent and imagination” (103). Nollywood filmmakers have applied their talent and imagination to both historical and contemporary issues as reflected in diverse themes of their movies. The themes range from religion to governance, from crime to adventure and from rural/urban living to campaigns against social vices like AIDS, corruption, prostitution, etc. These are produced as common video genres like horror, comedy, urban legend, mythic parable, romance, witchcraft, melodrama, Christian morality tale and historical epic.
Agoola Odesanya, a lecturer in Lagos State University’s Mass Communication Department who recently worked on Ije and MrandMrs revealed that he changed his mind on Nollywood after seeing Ije and Mr and Mrs. According to him “I use to believe all Nigerian movies are heaps of rubbish and nothing good can come out of them, though this position is right when you look at Nollywood‘s recent past, but this orientation has changed. I worked on Ije and Mr and Mrs and it was published in an international journal. I feel sanity is gradually returning to Nollywood and I think it’s high time they took leverage of this new reputation”. Apart from these two movies, there are a whole lot of Nigerian films with deepened or improved qualities according to film critics reviews. LastFlighttoAbuja, Figurine, October1, PhoneSwap, and Dry are just few from the long list of films with deepened quality. Odesanya noted that this improvement will surely attract the academic scholars who ab-initio were discouraged from engaging in scholarly enterprise with Nollywood films.
Jonathan Haynes noted the importance of scholarship ventures in Nollywood when he averred that film impacts almost all sectors of the society from language, to health, ecology, politics and even economy (114). Nigerian scholars’ continuous neglect of Nollywood, as widely believed by critics imposes great danger on the life span of Nollywood. But again, Nollywood film makers must sustain the tempo of quality film making which according to Moradewun Adejunmobi must be charted towards local and global appeal.
 According to Adejunmobi “Audiences for Nigerian video film, as for other commercially driven texts, respond above all to perceptions of substantive relevance, that is to outcomes presented as having implications for the interests or concerns of viewers, and presented as having implications for the interests or personal, social and political circumstance of viewers. Paradoxically, both the desires for escape from everyday life and the desire for relevance to everyday concerns are high on the list of reasons why people consume commercial fiction” (52). This also applies to the academic critics who are looking for inexhaustible materials for their criticism.
In conclusion, Nollywood and Nigerian literary scholars must have a symbiotic relationship as proposed by Ernest Emenyonu whereas literary critics are giving Nollywood in-depth attention, Nollywood must reciprocate by adapting creative works into motion pictures in order to sustain the interests of these scholars.
Ecphonesis plays very essential roles in realization of the theme of movies where Chinwetalu Agu employs them. This long essay explains how Chinwetalu Agu use ecphonesis to transmit a message, achieve cohesion and incite emotions in the five selected Nollywood movies.   

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Type Project
Department English
Project ID ENG0222
Price ₦3,000 ($9)
Chapters 5 Chapters
No of Pages 62 Pages
Methodology Descriptive
Reference YES
Format Microsoft Word

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    Type Project
    Department English
    Project ID ENG0222
    Price ₦3,000 ($9)
    Chapters 5 Chapters
    No of Pages 62 Pages
    Methodology Descriptive
    Reference YES
    Format Microsoft Word

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