The Semantics and Pragmatics of Marriage and Ritual Blessing


  • Taye Kassa




This paper describes the contextual meanings of blessing utterances in Kafi Noonoo. The data was obtained by elicitation, participant observation and introspection. The intention of the article was to investigate the reasons why Kafas bless in different contexts differently. The subjects of blessing are fertility, peace, sexual attraction, apiculture, weather, climate and dignified countenance of addressee. Ritual blessing is used as apotropaic act, and consists of formulaic action. The intercession of such a blessing requires sacrifices before the blesser express his wishes to divinity. These blessings are mediations between human world and the divine realm, involving adulation of the divine; provided by scarification and offering followed by the blessings uttered by the shaman. This shows the Kafa folk religion is combined with different indigenous traditions. Hence, its implicit reason shows human dependency on deity, fear of insecurity and human uncertainty about the future. Bridal and sacrificial blessings are homological in the culture. In both cases the utterances are forwarded to the divinity leaving some emotional effect on the recipient but its efficacy is not materialized in speech time. The efficacy is temporally expected to happen in the future but its outcome is envisaged by the belief system of the society.



Key words: [blessing, shaman, mediation, apotropaic, libation]






How to Cite

Taye Kassa. (2022). The Semantics and Pragmatics of Marriage and Ritual Blessing . ZENA-LISSAN (Journal of Academy of Ethiopian Languages and Cultures), 30(1), 130–157. Retrieved from