A common theme found throughout Things Fall Apart, is the difference of languages among cultures and the barrier in which it creates as a cause to their lack of communication and understanding of one another. In reading the novel, many times you come across words that you will find to be unfamiliar to your understanding because they are from that of the Igbo dialect, or language. Achebe included these words throughout his book without a reference as to what they mean or are referring to because he felt that it was important to show the language barriers and conflicts in which the Igbo people and the European colonists experienced during their encounters, and the fact that the Europeans, who speak English such as we do, will never be able to understand such a complex language such as that of the Igbo people’s, and that because of this, they will also never understand the importance behind the preservation of the Igbo culture in which they are attempting to rip away from them in place of their own beliefs/values. Adding to Achebe’s purposeful inclusion of the Igbo language, not only did he want to create a sense of this disconnect as a cause to the language barriers between different regions and that of the Igbo people, but he also included these Igbo proverbs, folktales, and rhythms because he wanted to showcase the beauty behind the Igbo language and how their form of speech/dialect and how it was unique to their people and their personal traditions.
He [the white man] spoke through an interpreter who was an Ibo man, though his dialect was different and harsh to the ears of Mbanta. Many people laughed at his dialect and the way he used words strangely. Instead of saying “myself” he always said “my buttocks.” March 23, 2011