A Linguistic Analysis Of Violent Political Language

The relationship between language and politics is a complementary one. Since language can be a tool for integrating and disintegrating the masses in politics, politicians have crashed in on this medium which they manipulate to canvass for votes from the populace. This language sometimes leads to violence in the polity as it is used to achieve the personal goals of politicians. Using content and descriptive analyses, this study examines the linguistic features in violent political expressions and also discussed some of the issues that go with this language variety. Findings reveal that: aspersions and name calling constitute part of violent political language; violent political language often makes use of threats; the language is hinged on propaganda; violent political language makes promises that sound as threats; it is replete with hate speeches; rhetoric and persuasion constitute the language of violence in politics, etc.

Title Page–i
Table of Contents–vii
Chapter One
1.0 Background to the Study–1
1.1 Purpose of the Study–3
1.2 Significance of the Study–3
1.3 Statement of the Problem–4
1.4 Methodology–5
1.5 Scope and Delimitation–5
Chapter Two
Literature Review
2.0 Introduction–7
2.1 Language variation–9
2.2 Political Dialect–14
2.3 Violence in Political Environment–16
2.4 The History of Violence in Nigerian Politics–32
Chapter Three
Data Presentation and Analysis
3.0 Introduction–34
3.1 Aspersions/Abusive Language–34
3.2 Threats–35
3.3 Propaganda–36
3.4 Promises–38
3.5 Hate Speeches–39
3.6 Figurative Expressions–40
3.7 Rhetoric / Persuasion–40
3.8 Summary of Findings–41
Chapter Four
Summary and Conclusion
4.0 Summary–42
4.1 Conclusion–43
Works Cited–42

The history of violence in Nigerian politics is as old as the entity called, Nigeria, itself. The coming of the colonialist and the efforts by the locals to forestall colonial rule have led to political violence which continued till independence and post–independence Nigeria. The Aba women riot (1929) is a case in point.

However, one could trace political violence in Nigerian politics to early 1950s especially the Kano riot of 1953. Anyaele (184) traced this violent political history to the clashes between Northerners and Southerners made up of mainly the Yorubas and the Ibos. The riot that lasted for four days claimed many lives of the Southerners and Northerners and many other were wounded. The remotes cause of the riot was the strained relationship between the Northern and Southern leaders over the issue of self–government in 1956. This relationship started with a 1953 motion for self–government for Nigeria in 1956 tabled in the House of Representatives by a member of the Action Group (AG), Chief Anthony Enahoro. The Northerners did not accept the motion. the leader of the Northern People’s Congress (NPC) and the Sardauna of Sokoto, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello in a counter–motion replaced the year 1956 with the phrase “as soon as practicable” (Anyaele, 184). The meeting was moved for adjournment by the Northerners and this did not go well with the AG and NCNC, as they considered this to be a delayed tactic, and when they left the house, they met a hostile crowd in Lagos who insulted, jeered and called them all sorts of names. Members of the Northern delegation were embittered and in their “Eight Point Programme” in the Northern Regional Legislative House, they sought for secession (Anyele, 184). The last straw that broke the camel’s back was the tour by a delegation of the AG and NCNC led by Chief S.I. Akintola. The tour was aimed at campaigning for self–government and this sparked off series of attacks in Kano which led to a three day riot.

Violence has continued to feature in the Nigerian political system ever since the Kano riot of 1953. For instance, another political violence in Nigeria came in the census crisis of 1962/1963. Crisis was one common feature of the first republic. In that period, Nigeria witnessed series of crises that rocked the foundation of the newly independent state. Population census is a contentious issue in Nigeria because population figures are used as basis for the sharing of government revenue and determination of other electoral matters.

The First Republic in Nigeria was crisis ridden mainly as a result of inter–ethnic and intra–ethnic rivalries between different groups. The history of political violence in Nigeria can be likened to electoral issues which continued to drive the country to disunity and a point of geographical, social and religious disintegrations till date.

Language played and continues to play its role in the disintegration and violence in Nigeria. It is a mark of identity (both cultural and group), and just as it unites a particular group and set them apart from another group, so does it spark of ethnic and political violence in the country when it is wrongly used out of context or within a particular context.

Politicians have taken advantages of the linguistic and ethnic disintegration of the country to manipulate language during electoral and campaign rallies in order to canvass votes from the populace. The role of language in political campaign has been abused in such a way that language has become a tool for promoting violence in politics.

Just as language can be used to integrate people, it also be used to cause disaffections among peoples for political and economic gains. Politicians in Nigeria and the world over are aware of this fact and they make use of language to achieve their political aims. However, to win voters support and discredit members of other political parties, political language has become violent as politicians are willing to say anything to destroy or reduce their opponents’ reputations in any political campaigns. This has not only caused disaffections among the populace but has led to violence in many cases. In view of this, this study examines the linguistic features of violent political languages in order to unearth the linguistic devices that characterize their usage.

The purpose of this study is to describe the language of violent political campaigns with a focus to examining the linguistic features of violent political language and the issues that characterize political language. This study is also intended to assist researchers in the field of politics. The work will also create awareness on the ideas of violent language in political environments.

The significance of this study is hinged on the following task to be carried out in this work:

i. The study will describe the nature of violent political language in Nigeria.

ii. It will examine the linguistic features of violent political language in Nigeria.

iii. This research will discuss the nature of language variation especially as it pertains to political variety.

iv. It will also examine the history of violence in Nigerian politics.

v. This study will examine the issues of political language.

vi. Lastly, the study will be useful to students and future researchers on similar topics as resource materials.

Politics and language have complemented each other as language has been used to advance politics and politics has found its way into the nature of human language especially in the sociology of language in society. Politicians have found language a veritable tool for promoting their self–interest in terms of canvassing votes using language. While language has been used to integrate a particular section of the polity, it has also been used to cause disaffections among the populace as politicians manipulate language to promote violence in their bid to secure votes. Thus, this study examines the linguistic features of violent political language and the issues that characterize political language.

The study adopts Content and Descriptive Analyses in examining the linguistic features of violent political language. Both primary and secondary sources of data are used for this research. The primary sources are campaign speeches and comments of politicians in Nigeria recorded and downloaded from online media. The secondary sources are linguistic texts, articles and other relevant information from the internet. A purposive random sampling of some of these violent political statements was carried out and analyzed accordingly.

This study comes under the purview of sociolinguistics and the sociology of language where the role of language in society is discussed. Also, the variation of language called political dialect is described with a view to examining the linguistic features that characterized its usage in political campaigns. This study is limited to the analysis of the linguistic features of violent political language and the issues that characterize political language. The study will not go beyond this limit.

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