LANGUAGE AND POWER RELATIONS IN SELECTED POLITICAL CRISIS SPEECHES IN NIGERIA, 1984 – 2013

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ABSTRACT


This thesis dwells on an in-depth understanding of language and power relations in political crisis speeches in Nigeria from 1984 to 2013. Specifically, the thesis focuses on the various ways politicians use language to enact and sustain unequal power relations in society. The study provides a critical enquiry into the mode of political communications during crisis in Nigeria, the persuasive and manipulative strategies adopted by political actors, as well as the discursive processes employed. The thesis adopts Norman Fairclough’s approach to critical discourse analysis and Halliday’s systemic functional linguistics to examine the dimensions of language use in the texts. The study reveals that there were different dimensions of language use and power relations in the texts in the form of domination, manipulation, discrimination and concession. Linguistically, the use of language to advance the power of domination was principally achieved through assertive expressions, which enabled the speakers to impose their will on the people. The speakers also used declaratives to neutralize their power in order to concede power to the audience. Semantically, there was the use of language to express manipulation and influence through identification with the people, justification of actions, defacing opponents and emotiveness encoded in metaphorical and figurative expressions. Ideologically, language was used to polarize between the speakers and their opponents, and consists of unequal power relations. Furthermore, the use of the pronominal ‘I’, ‘we’’ ours’ and ‘us’ was intended for in-group favouritism, while the use of ‘they’ ‘them’ and ‘theirs’ was intended for out-group derogation. They portray different ideological positions in the texts and indexes power. The study revealed that the political crisis speeches produced between 1984 and 2013 in Nigeria promoted asymmetrical power relations, (re-) produced, sustained and legitimized social and ideological structures of manipulation and domination. Finally, this thesis has utilised the tools of critical discourse analysis and systemic functional linguistics which uncover implicit ideologies and advance emancipation of the people to provide voices to the voiceless and the oppressed.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Title page
Abstract
Table of Contents

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
1.1       Background of study
1.2       Statement of problem
1.3       Objectives of study
1.4       Significance of study
1.5       Scope of study

CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1       Conceptual Issues
2.2       Empirical Studies
2.3       Summary of literature Review

CHAPTER THREE: THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK AND METHODOLOGY
3.1       Theoretical framework
3.2       Research Design
3.3       Population, Sample and Sampling Technique
3.4       Research Instrument
3.5       Procedure for Data Collection
3.6       Method of Data Analysis

CHAPTER FOUR: ANALYSIS OF IDEOLOGICAL ARGUMENTATION AND PERSUASION IN THE TEXTS
Preamble
4.1       Identification with the People: An Ideological Strategy for Persuading and Influencing
4.2       Justification as an Ideological Ploy for Persuasion
4.3       The Ideology of ‘Us’ versus ‘Them’ dichotomy
4.4       Ideology of Persuasion and Emotiveness as Political Weapons
4.5       Figures of Speech as Ideological tools in Political Discourse
4.5.1    Ideological Metaphors and Metaphor Related Expressions for Persuading and Influencing
4.5.2    Metaphor of War/Battle/Contest
4.5.3    Metaphor of Journey
4.5.4    Metaphor of Religion
4.5.5    Metaphors Conceptualizing the Politicians as Builders and the Country as a Building
4.5.6    Metaphor Conceptualizing the Nation as a Person
4.5.7    Metaphor of Economic Prospects/Problems
4.5.8    Rhetorical Questions
4.5.9    Repetition as an Ideology Promotion Tool
4.5.10  Idioms as Tools for Promoting Ideology
4.5.11  Simile
4.5.12  Adjectives as Tools for Projecting Ideology
4.5.13  The Use of Hyperbole as an Ideological Strategy

CHAPTER FIVE: IDEOLOGICAL ANALYSIS AND POWER RELATIONS IN THE TEXTS
Preamble
5.1       The Use of Language to Express Authority, Power and Dominance
5.2       The Use of Language to Express Power of Tolerance and Concession in the Texts

CHAPTER SIX: SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
6.1       Summary
6.2       Conclusion
6.3       Suggestions
Works Cited
Appendix


CHAPTER ONE


INTRODUCTION


1.1       Background of Study


Language is at the centre of every human activity. Both the social and political actors explore, deploy and manipulate language to create a new atmosphere for the actualization of their goals and aspirations. Political speeches such as the ones produced in Nigeria which is undeniably bedeviled by one political crisis after another since independence are marked by emotionally charged persuasions, threats and verbal radicalism. Such speeches project self and build the images and ideologies of the actors. In recognition of the power of language in human society, Hayakawa, Samuel (3) in his Language in Thought and Action maintains that words have power to mould men’s thinking, to canalize their feelings, to direct their will and action. Men’s conduct and character are determined by the kind of words we employ in the discussion of ourselves and the world around us.
Political actors are aware of the fact that politics is all about the “ideas and activities for gaining and exercising power in society” (Akimbayi, Adetunji, 177). Consequently, they code their ideological positions and manipulate the linguistic and socio-semantic elements of a text, often with a hidden agenda to hold onto power and maintain dominance and inequality in society. Most often, there is a restricted and exclusive attention paid to the role of force as the basis of ruling class domination, there is hardly an “understanding of the subtle but pervasive forms of ideological control, manipulation, and domination” present in texts (Boggs, Carl Jr; 97). This is why Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), a type of discourse analytical research that primarily studies the way social power, abuse, dominance, and inequality are enacted, reproduced and resisted in social and political contexts wants to understand, expose and ultimately resist social inequality (Van Dijk, 352) which may not be obvious in the text.
In a time of political crisis when everyone is evidently overwhelmed with disbelief, uncertainty and unable to decide whom to follow or the line of action to take, the political leader’s job is likely to be enormous. This is because, it is the political actor who calms, reassures and motivates the people, and at the same time, he provides solutions to the crisis. The political actor confidently speaks powerfully in various tones and announces his plans and goals as if everything were under control and there were no reasons to worry (Hana, Bellova, 9). What is said at this point of crisis time is not only important but also how it is said. Wikipedia (2014) defines crisis as “any event that is, or is expected to lead to an unstable and dangerous situation, affecting an individual, group, community, or whole society”. Crisis is a negative change in the security, economic, political, societal or environmental affairs, especially when it occurs abruptly, with little or no warning. Political crisis speeches are the speeches made at a time when there are troubles in responses to the unexpected, unstable and dangerous situation in the nation’s polity. At crisis times, people resort to struggles to balance both the internal and external demands and mental disequilibrium (Woolley, N., 102-1408). Various coping mechanisms at crisis time include.....


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