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This research work appraises the nature of language use in diplomacy especially as it concerns the Nigeria foreign policy as evident in the Nigeria-South Africa diplomatic relations. It traverses into the intricacies of language and diplomacy, highlighting the chain relation that exists therein. By adopting the survey method,the work looks into the sociolinguistic politeness theory as a tool for appraising language use in diplomacy. From the finding of this work, it was discovered that proper language use in diplomacy is germane to the peaceful coexistence between nations. The mucky relationship that existed between Nigeria and South Africa before it was fixed is a product of wrong language use. Hence, it is therefore recommended that politeness strategies more pertinently positive politeness and negative politenesstenets will be better achieved in this case, by applying strictly appropriate language use in diplomacy so as to reinforce a cordial diplomatic relationship between the duo African nations in review. The diplomats should always examine their language before dishing it out in the course of discharging their duties.


Title page
Table of contents
List of Abbreviations

1.1       Background to the Study
1.1.2    Levels of Analysis in the Study of Language
1.2       Statement of the Problem
1.3       Objectives of the Study
1.4       Research Questions
1.5       Significance of the Study
1.6       Scope and Delimitation of the Study
1.7       Limitations of the Study

2.1       Theoretical Studies
2.1.1    Politeness Theory
2.1.2    The Brown and Levinson (1987) Model of Politeness Theory
2.1.3    Face and Politeness Strategies
2.1.4    Politeness Strategies
2.1.5    Criticisms of Politeness Theory
2.2       Empirical Studies
2.3       Summary of Literature Review
2.4       Choice of Theoretical Framework

3.0       Preamble
3.1       Research Design
3.2       Research Population
3.3       Sampling and Sampling Procedure
3.4       Selection of Respondents
3.5       Research Instruments
3.6       Validation of Instrument
3.7       Method of Data Collection
3.8       Procedure for Data Analysis

4.1       Presentation of Data (Questionnaire Analysis)
4.2       Analysis of Language use in Nigeria – South Africa Diplomacy
4.2.1    Features of Diplomatic Language Use
4.3       Analysis of Nigeria – South Africa Diplomatic Relationship
4.4       Analysis of Diplomatic Language use by Nigerian Diplomats
4.5       Analysis of Diplomatic Language use by South African Diplomats
4.6       Politeness Strategies evident in the Diplomatic Language use by Nigerian Diplomats
4.6.1 Positive and Negative Politeness Strategies evident in the Diplomatic Language use by Nigerian Diplomats
4.7   Politeness Strategies evident in the Diplomatic Language use by South African Diplomats
4.7.1 Positive and Negative Politeness Strategies evident in the Diplomatic Language use by South African Diplomats
4.8   Discussion of the Findings

5.1       Summary
5.2       Conclusion
5.3       Recommendations



1.1        Background to the Study

Language is the vehicle by which human beings effect communication. According to Agbedo (2009), Language is the pivot on which all human activities ranging from the most prosaic to the most profound revolve. There is no society that has ever existed in isolation of language or without language. Language is the life of any society; therefore, no society can exist without using or having a language. It is the conduit through which most communication activities are done in any given society.

The importance of language in linguistic study cannot be overemphasized, this is because of its centrality in all linguistics sub-fields; be it syntax, semantics, morphology, phonetics, phonology, applied linguistics or sociolinguistics. In sociolinguistics however, the emphasis goes beyond the analysis of structures and theorization to the actual use of language in the society. Several definitions of language have been proposed by several scholars from the earliest times to the present day.

According to Agbedo (2000:1) “Language is a method of communicating ideas, emotions, feelings, and desires by means of a system of vocal and sound symbols”. Bucher (1979), states that language is the development of the basic forms of communication between human beings and the society. According to Nathan (2004), we cannot communicate in real sense without language, other than gesture: we do communicate through some non-verbal forms like the visual-arts-painting and sculpture and through dance, but the culmination of true, articulate, communication is through language. Language is obviously a vital tool. Not only is it a means of communicating thoughts and ideas, but it forges friendships, cultural ties and economic relationship.

The importance of language for effective communication cannot be over emphasized. The primary purpose of language is to enable communication. Communication is a social activity. It makes interaction between humans possible and effective. Language is the vehicle through which thoughts and feelings are expressed and understood. It is the environment of language used that determines the expressional approach through which ideas acquire their meaning and relevance.

Ohaegbu (1992), points out that there is no society without language of which it serves as the medium of communication. He further states that a person’s functional language is that in which he possess a communicative and linguistic competence. Communicative competence means the ability to use the language for actual communication. For expression of one’s thoughts and ideas and for understanding of others who use same language. So, the importance of language in human communication cannot be underestimated.

Wilkins (1982), also states that our entire social structure is mediated through language and that it is inconceivable that we would have constructed so complex a social interaction if we have no spoken and written language at our disposal. Trever (2001:27) observes that “Language is a social activity which demands joint action”. We all aim to speak successfully and while doing so take into consideration the view of others the speaker and listener or the writer and the reader must belong to the same speech community for them to be able to understand, and comprehend the message effectively”.

Another eminent scholar Sapir (1921) says that “Language is purely human and not instinctive method of communicating ideas, emotions, and desire by means of a system of voluntarily produced symbols. These are in the first place auditory and they are produced by the organs of speech”. The nature of language in diplomacy has also attracted much attention in the discussion of the language use in diplomacy, thus the insight into what language is. This has brought about a branch of study known as linguistics. Linguistics as the discipline studies language as a means of communication user primarily by human beings. The recognition of language as organic to human beings is also recognized by Chomsky (1968), who sees language as species specific human possession; the human essence and the only being valuable in the context of humans as opposed to animal. Most fundamentality, Chomsky states further that it is the association with thought, concepts of images in mind and the ability both to produce and to interpret such sounds in recurrent patterns that marks the natural language out of the reach of any other species other than man.

Lawal (1989), believes that it is this power of language to interact with thought, concept or image in the mind that language becomes a double edge sword of facilitator and at the same time a dangerous weapon. Afuba (2004:6) rightly put it “Language is power”. He goes further to say that it is a medium of passing relevant information and knowledge required of the people.
Meribe (1980) also states that the importance of language in human communication cannot be underestimated, more so, it’s use in diplomacy. He further says that the objective of communication rests mainly on the bedrock of language and the whole of communication is rooted in language. Again, that the fundamental basis of any communication depends wholly on the language used. It is important to note that communication relies heavily on linguistics.....

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