POWER RELATIONS AND LINGUISTIC REPRESSION IN PRINT MEDIA, POLITICAL AND GENDER DISCOURSES: THE NIGERIAN EXPERIENCE

AUTHOR: CHINWE ROSEANN EZEIFEKA

DEPARTMENT: ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE

AFFILIATION: NNAMDI AZIKIWE UNIVERSITY, AWKA

The main thrust of the work is that power is textually-mediated by means of dominant ideologies and repressive language-use which have over time become naturalized, taken-for-granted, commonsensical and unquestionable orders of discourse such that the dominated are unaware of them. The study takes a critical view of the various dimensions of power struggles, dominance, repressions, evasions, propaganda, marginalization, discriminations and oppressions perpetuated by discourse. Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), an interdisciplinary research paradigm has been adopted for the study derived from the tradition of Critical Linguistics of Fowler and his associates and critical social theory of Karl Marx and his followers. CDA takes the side of the oppressed to reveal and deconstruct transparent and opaque repressive language use in texts. An integration of Halliday’s Systemic Functional Grammar theory (SFG), Lakoff and Johnson’s Conceptual Metaphor theory in the tradition of Cognitive Linguistics (CL), insights from Wodak’s Discourse-Historical Approach and data from participant interviews have been incorporated into the analytical framework in order to give a rounded explanation of the sociolinguistic implications of use and abuse of power. These analytical tools were applied to three textual data namely: The Guardian Newspaper reports of the June/July 2008 Nigerian Union of Teachers’ (NUT) national strike, two inaugural political speeches by two past Nigerian leaders and relevant sections of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999. It was found that the three textual data studied contain various forms of asymmetries and dominant ideologies: the print media implicated for evasion, apparent neutrality, gatekeeping ideology, and manipulation of the wordings of the 1999 Constitution, shirking of watchdog role, marginalization, silence, and the use of subtle negative metaphors. The political speeches were replete with propaganda, evasions, presentation of an idyllic status quo to perpetuate hegemonic regimes, positive “self” and negative “other” presentation, and deceit among others. The 1999 Constitution projects the male-as-norm ideology and biased representation of the female gender. It is the general contention of this research, that though CDA may not completely deal with issues of unequal power relations and linguistic repression, creating awareness and raising the consciousness of text producers and consumers to the issues at stake is one sure means of reducing the anomaly to the barest minimum.

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