This Study analyses and discusses the pragmatically negation in selected U.S and Nigerian presidential speeches. It first examined the process of speaking as a form of intimated and supportive relationship that serves as cement that holds friendships, families, communities, societies and government together. The focus is on political discourse which is closely related to power, that put certain political economic and social ideas into practice. Text of acceptance and inauguration speeches of President Barak Obama of the U.S.A and President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria are selected to be the working data. Three components, Description, Interpretation, and Explanation were used as the bases for analysis and discussions.





    Certification page I
    Dedication Ii
    Acknowledgement Iii
    Abstract Iv
    Table of Contents V
    Chapter one Introduction 1
    Statement of the research problem 3
    The research Questions 4
    Significance of the Study 4
    Scope and Delimitation of the Study 5
    Objectives of the Study 6
    Organization of the Study  
    Chapter Two: Literature 7
    A. Introduction (Background to the study)  
    B. Speech Act 9
    Cooperative Principle 12
    Presupposition 16
    Language and politics 18
    Poltical Discouse 23
    The Linguistic Feartures of political Speeches 25
    Lexican 27
    Vocabulary 27
    Technical Words 26
    Imprecise Words                                         . •’ 27
    Euphemism 28
    Loaded Words 29
    Grammer 29
    Voice 30
    Pronouns 30
    Nominalization 31
    Modality 32
    Over negatives  
    Negative connectives 34
  Indirect negation 35
  Rhetorical Devices  
  Metaphor 37

Triads                                                                                                         38

Repetition                                                                                                  38

Puzzle solution                                                                                          39

Theoretical framework

A social-Cognitive Model Sociological and Historical Model

Discourse as practice Model                                                                        42

Previous studies                                                                                          44

Chapter Three: Methodology and Sources of Data                                        47

Analytical procedure

Description                                                                                                 49

Interpretation                                                                                             49

Expiation                                                                                                    49

Data collection and classification                                                                 50

Descriptive and metalinguistic negation                                                      50

Descriptive Negation                                                                                   50

Metalinguistic negation                                                                              51

Initiative and Reactive Negation utterances                                                 51

Initiative Negation in a Text                                                                      52

Reactive negation in a Text                                                                         52

Focusing and collection negation                                                                52

Positive polarity negation                                                                            53

Chapter Four: Data analysis, Discussion and Interpretation                          54

Introduction                                                                                              54

Presentation, Analysis and Interpretation of the Results                               54

Text A Yar’adua’s speech                                                                          54

Text B president Goodluck Jonathan speech                                                54

Text C inaugural speech of U. S. President Barak Hussein Obama                55

Data Analysis                                                                                             56

Interpretation of the Analysis of Tables                                                       65

Discussion                                                                                                  66

Conclusion                                                                                                67

Chapter Five                                                                                             67

Summary                                                                                                   68

Main findings                                                                                            68

Suggestions for Further Research

Bibiliography                                                                                             71





Most of our social lives depend on speaking to one another. It is the way we form intimate and supportive relationship. The mind of one human can reach the mind of another by a process of speaking. Speaking is the cement that holds friendship, families, communities, societies, and government together (Philips, Kougi and Kelly 1985). For any meaningful development and change to take place in a society, people must first speak out. At a formal level of interaction, there are many forms of public discourse, which among others include sermons, debates, and political speeches. Central to all public discourse is language. Language is indispensable tool more especially in political discourse. Schaffher (1996:1) supports the argument, which put forward, language as and octant factor in political spe. He said that any political action is prepared, accompanied, controlled, and influenced by language.

The Held of politic related to power. The power to put certain political, economic and social ideas into practices (Bayram, 2010). For this to be established one of the effective means at the disposal of those concerned with politics and by extension power is the act of making speeches. The ultimate aim of political speeches is to persuade their audiences especially of the validity of their political claims. However, this task is challenging because the audiences of political speeches are broad and that makes the language use within that domain to be complicated. Unlike other genres of public discourse, political speeches aim at wider range of audiences. Hence, language in the hand of modern politicians is at risk of becoming an obfuscating rather than a means of


enlightenment. This trend in the use of language by politicians made Orwell (1946) to conclude that in cash is in a bad way. Orwell criticizes  the  English of his   one citing examples from ng metaphors’, verbal ‘pretentious dictions and “meaningless words. The features outlined above by Orwell are some of the ways language is used to deceive by those in power. This kind of language  used      to  deceive.    Or    veli                termed     it            as   ‘Newspeak’ popularly known as ‘doublespeak”. Doublespeak is a language that pretends to communicate, but really does not, which makes bad seem good, negative positive. Language that avoids or shifts responsibility and conceals thoughts.

For a politician, this sort of language is risk free. It commits the speaker to nothing. It creates no expectation in the listener beyond the dull and nauseas certainty that there will be more- much more to come. Clear language is of course risky to them.

Speeches are undeniably part of the political state of affairs. Once someone has become a political figure, there will always be a time when he or she will be confronted to make speech. For  presidents, the task of making speeches begins from the day they are declared winner of an election and on the day of taking oath of office. Thus, this study will do a pragmatic analysis of negation, of acceptance and inaugural speeches of

  • Nigerian and US

A universal property of natural language is that every language is able to express negation.

Every language has some devices at its disposal to reverse the truth-value of a certain sentence. However, languages may differ to quite a large extent as to how they express this negation. Not only that the languages vary with respect to position of negative


elements,   but  also   the   form  of   negative  elements  and   the interpretation of negatives in utterances can deviate from what intuitively might be expected are based on the context it is used. It is not only negation, that can have different interpretations based on different context, but also, different utterances can be subjected                      to   different    interpretations.  Voltaire,   quoted        in Standard Encyclopedia of philosophy, “2006, supports this that: When a diplomat says ‘yes’, he means ‘perhaps’ When he says perhaps, he means to. When he says ‘no’, he is not a diplomat.’ When   a      lady    says  no,           she means      ‘perhaps’ when  she   says perhaps, she means “yes’ When she says yes’ she is not a lady These lines remind       us               that    more    is    involved on what one communicates than what one literally says more is involved in what one means than the standard conventional meaning of the words one uses. The words ‘yes”, ‘perhaps’ and ‘no’ each has a perfectly identifiable meaning, known to us. However, the lines above illustrate that it is possible for different speakers in different circumstances-to mean different things using those words. Thus, the more you analyze conversations like the ones above the more you come to see that it is not so much what the sentences literally mean that matters when we talk as how they reveal the intention and strategies of the speaker themselves (Grundy, 2008).


It has become a common knowledge that politics is concerned with power; the power to make decisions, to control resources, to control people’s behaviour and often to control their values. The success or failure to exercise these powers rest on the use of language. Language is unquestionable an •


important element of politics. Language can misrepresent as well as represent realities. The skillful use of language can improve human well-being and it can be rhetorically used to obfuscate realities.  Whenever  a  politician   makes   use  of a language,   his choice of words is not only defendant on its grammatical importance but also, and more importantly, for its rhetorical effect on the audience. It is therefore believed that any linguistic element in a political speech is deliberately chosen and used rhetorically to advance political action. Thus, in political speech no word comes accidently. If a word is used, be assured it was planned that way. In other words, politicians exploit the possibility of linguistics choices in order to convey intentional meaning of a politico-pragmatic nature.

It is against this background that this study will set out to analyze the use of negation in presidential speeches.


In order to achieve this, the following questions will be answered:

  1. Do presidents make use of different modes of negations?
  2. If yes, do these different modes of negations have any pragmatic implication?
  • In what ways is the use of negation, in presidential speeches similar or different between Nigeria and S.?

Several researches have been done on political discourse such as Fairclough, 2001; Abaya, .2011; Van Dink, 1993; Wilson, 1990 but none of these paid attentions to the use of negatives in political discourse. This research therefore aims at filling this gap left by previous studies thereby adding fresh idea to the existing literature on political discourse.


The study will also open up a new field of interest to both grammarians and pragmaticians to exploit different functions negation performs in sentences and utterances far from the traditional function of denying the truth-value of sentences and utterances. Thus, the study will be a reference material to grammarians, pragmaticians, students as well as those interested in the analysis of political discourse.


The study will analyze the speeches of acceptance and inauguration of four presidents, two from U.S., and two from Nigeria. The study limits itself to the analysis of only four presidents due to page limitation, time constraint, and resources. The U.S. and the Nigerian presidents’ speeches were selected because U.S. is seen as the father of democracy where political culture and ideology are maintained over the years and are replicated through their speeches, and by extension Nigeria as upcoming democratic state tends to model after in both the system of government and political tradition of making speeches. Thus, the countries will serve as a good example in making comparison. The total number of eight (8) speeches will be used for the analysis. The focus of the analysis will be a pragmatic analysis of negation in the speeches paying close attention to the different modes of negatives and their pragmatic implications. Moreover, the similarities and the differences will be considered.

The analysis will therefore ignore any other grammatical elements which, the choices were precipitated politically and pragmatically such as the use of pronouns, deixis. Thus, the study will be a pragmatic one with a focus on the use of negatives in presidential speeches, using Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) as a


theoretical, framework in explicating those hidden meanings embedded in the text.


This study aims at doing a pragmatic analysis of negation in presidential speeches of Nigeria and U.S. presidents. In order to achieve this, the study tries to achieve the following objectives:

  1. To find out the different negatives presidents use in their speeches. ii. To show that, there is pragmatic implication in the use of negatives by presidents in their speeches.

iii.   To bring out the similarities and the differences in the   use of  negatives  in  presidential   speeches  between  Nigeria and U.S.