A CRITICAL DISCOURSE ANALYTICAL STUDY OF SELECTED SPEECH AND COMMENTS ON COVID-19 IN NIGERIA

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A CRITICAL DISCOURSE ANALYTICAL STUDY OF SELECTED SPEECH AND COMMENTS ON COVID-19 IN NIGERIA

INTRODUCTION

Discourse analysis is an independent discipline which has relationship with other disciplines in linguistics. According to Ogwuche (2003), the term discourse is seen in many lights; however, most scholars have agreed that there are special features inherent in the concept. Such features, according to them include: talk, lecture, speech, sermon, etc. and are all geared towards eliciting response or reaction from participants in discourse. Discourse is defined as a series of utterances juxtaposed and forming part of a higher structure being linked together by semantic cohesion. In discourse, relations hold between sentences and social meaning. It can further be regarded as a structured event manifested in linguistic and other behaviour.

features of discourse include the following:

  • Text (oral / written)
  • Participants (oral interlocutors)
  • Mechanisms (code) i.e. language or dialect
  • Setting: (i) space / spacio-temporal (ii) time
  • Domains: is it in lecture, dialogue and seminar?

However, discourse analysis (D A) is referred to as the analysis of language in use. To put it in another way, discourse analysis attempts to analyse every bit of utterance produced by a speaker as well as the paralinguistic cues made with a view to passing on information, ideas, feelings, etc.

Ogwuche (2003) further submits that discourse analysis does not stop at analyzing or describing linguistic forms but also investigates language by native speakers. Discourse Analysis can also be defined as the norms, values and beliefs, which impinge or influence speech. It is also seen as the analysis of suprasentential unit or a shift from assembling sentences to doing things with utterances and from the sentences in isolation to utterances in context.

Not only is it difficult to define discourse; it is also not easy to make a clear cut division of discourse. Therefore, depending on the form, linguists distinguish various kinds of communicative products. A type of discourse might be characterised as a class of either written or spoken text, which is frequently casually specified, with its recognition aiding its perception, and consequently producing potential response (Cook 1990:156). This distinction, due to its suitability more for written communicative products than for spoken ones, faced constructive criticism the observation of which revealed that there are more functions performed. Consequently, there ought to be more types of discourse, not to mention the fact that these often mix and overlap. The analysis of oral communicative products was the domain of Steger, who examined features of various situations and categorized divided discourse into six types: presentation, message, report, public debate, conversation and interview. The criteria of this division include such factors as presence, or absence of  interaction, number of speakers and their relation to one another (their rights, or as Steger names it ‘rank’), flexibility of topic, along with selection and attitude of interlocutors towards the subject matter.

However, it is worth mentioning that oral discourse might alter its character. For example, in the case of presenting a lecture, students can start asking questions which can change the discourse-type to interview, or even a conversation. Using this classification, it is possible to anticipate the role of participants as well as goals of particular acts of communication. The above mentioned typologies do not exhaust the possible division of discourse types, yet, nowadays, attempts are made by scholars to create a classification that would embrace all potential kinds. Also, there appears to be a shift of interest in this field, presently resulting in focus on similarities and differences between written and spoken communication (Renkema, 2004:64).

Discourse analysts are interested in analyzing stretches of utterances uttered by individuals and in context. McCarthy (1991) says Discourse analysis is concerned with the study of the relationship between language and the contexts in which it is used: written texts of all kinds, and spoken data, from conversation to highly institutionalized forms of talk. Discourse analysis is a term which has been used for two distinct activities:

  1. The study of the narrative structures of literacy texts (Barthes, 1966; Todorov, Chatman, 1969);
  2. The study of the rhetorical ‘coherence’ of records of interaction in which the focus of attention is the way the communicator draws on the resources of the language to participate in the exchange of

Therefore, discourse analysis is data centred, descriptive, performance and spoken. Nunan (1993) in Ajibola (2001) describes the term text to refer to any written record of a communicative event. The event itself may involve oral language (for example, a sermon, a casual conversation, a shopping transaction) or written language (for example, a poem, a newspaper advertisement, a wall poster, a shopping list, a novel). Conversely, discourse according to Nunan refers to the interpretation of the communicative event in context. This study therefore, focuses on the gender distinction of sex markers in male and female informal talk.

Context is defined as the situation or setting, that is a course of event(s) that has an initial, intermediary and final state. The actual context is defined as the situation; that is, the time or period and place where the communicative activities of the speaker /hearer are realized and which satisfy the properties of ‘here’ and ‘now’ logically and cognitively. Also, context involves mental structures such as ‘wants’, ‘knowledge’, ‘purpose’, ‘intents’, etc. The knowledge context includes:

  1. Knowledge of the word in which the utterance is
  2. Knowledge of the language used; that is, its rules and possible of the rules;
  3. Knowledge of the various states of the

It is acknowledged that discourse analysis is pragmatic since the discourse analyst usually takes a pragmatic approach to the study of language in use. He has to take into account of the context in which a piece of discourse occurs. However, some of the obvious linguistic elements which require contextual information for their interpretation are deictic forms such as ‘here’, ‘now’ (already mentioned above), ‘I’, ‘you’, ‘this’, and ‘that’. These say something about time, space/ place, etc. In order to interpret these elements in a piece of discourse, it is necessary to know the following which constitute another knowledge set.

  1. The speaker
  2. The hearer
  3. The time of production
  4. The place of production of the utterances
  5. the context or situation
  6. The subject matter

A further look at pragmatics may reveal that it could be defined as the study of how utterances have meaning in situations. The strongest influence on developing a pragmatic paradigm has been the formulation of a view of meaning in terms of illocutionary force by Austin and Searle (1962) and of meaning in terms of conversational implicature by Grice (1975).

In summary, pragmatics deals with setting which entails where, when and under what circumstances communication takes place. Pragmatics is important in the study of discourse, not because it characteristically involves distinctive grammatical constructions like ‘locatives’ e.g. (here and then), but also because it is a common basis for segmentation of sequential text into their constituent parts.

What is often called conversation analysis within the American tradition can also be included under the general heading of discourse analysis. Analysis is focused on cohesion between sentences which is exemplified by pronominalization, anaphoric reference and exophoric reference by means of which sentences are linked and references are made to parts of the text which have passed and to other parts which are to come.

Aims and Objectives of the Study

The main objectives of this study is to investigate the  Critical Discourse Analytical Study Of Selected Speech And Comments On Covid-19 In Nigeria

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