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According to Prasad, Tarni (3), linguistics is ‘the science that describes and classifies languages.’ Lyons, (1) quoted in Agbedo, Chris (1) defines linguistics as the scientific study of langue …’ Allen (16) quoted in Agbedo (6) observes that ‘scientific’ in this sense ‘… is a study which is based on the systematic investigation of data, conducted with reference to some general theory of language structure…’ Robins (5) states that:

Linguistics is concerned with human language as a universal and recognizable part of the human behaviour and of the human faculties perhaps one of the most essential to human life as we know it, and one of most far-reaching of human capabilities in relation to the whole span of mankind’s achievements.

The earliest known linguistic activities date to Iron Age India (around the 8th century B. C) with the analysis of Sanskrit. Prasad (3) observes that ‘linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context.’


The first subfield according to Prasad is the study of language structure, or grammar. This focuses on the system of rules followed by the speakers (or hearers) of a language. It encompasses morphology (the formation and composition of words), syntax (the formation and composition of phrases and sentences from these words), phonology (sound systems) and phonetics which are concerned with actual properties of speech sounds, and non-speech sounds, and how they are produced and perceived.


The second subfield is language meaning which is concerned with how languages employ logical structures and real-world references to convey, process, and assign meaning, as well as to manage and resolve ambiguity. This subfield encompasses semantics (how meaning is inferred from words and concepts) and pragmatics (how meaning is inferred from context).


The third category is language in context. Linguistics in its broader context includes evolutionary linguistics which considers the origins of language, historical linguistics which explores language change, sociolinguistics which looks at the relation between linguistics variation and social structures, psycholinguistics which explores the representation and function of language in the mind; neurolinguistics which looks at language acquisition, how children or adults acquire language; and discourse analysis which involves the structure of texts and conversations.


Similarly, stylistics is a branch of applied linguistics. It is the study and interpretation of texts from a linguistic perspective. As a discipline, it links literary criticism and linguistics, but has no autonomous domain of its own. Fasold (115) observes that ‘the preferred objects of stylistics studies is literature, not exclusively high literature but others forms of written texts such as text from domain of advertising, pop culture, marketing, politics or religion.’ In the same way, Coulthard (58) maintains that:

Stylistics also attempts to establish principles capable of explaining the particular choice made by individuals and social groups in their use of language, such as socialization, the production and reception of meaning, critical discourse analysis and literary criticism. Other features of stylistics includes the use of dialogue, including regional accents and people’s dialects, descriptive language, the use of grammar, such as the active voice or passive voice, the distribution of sentence lengths, the use of particular language registers and so on.


In addition, stylistics is a distinctive term that may be used to determine the connections between the form and effect within a particular variety of language. Therefore, stylistics looks at what is going on within the language; what the linguistic associations are that the style of language reveals. More so, stylistics analysis in linguistics refers to the identification of patterns of usage in speech and writing. Grenoble (15) gives credence to this when he asserts that: ‘stylistics analysis is the study of style used in literary and verbal language and the effect writer or speaker wishes to communicate to the reader or hearer.


However, linguistics and stylistics deal with language. The primacy of language in human affairs is an incontrovertible fact. Language distinguishes man from animals. As old as speculation on any subjects, inquiry into the nature of language occupied Plato and Aristotle, as well as other Greeks and Indian philosophers. To define the term ‘language’ is problematic. This is why Syal and Jindal (3) observe that ‘some linguists, however, have been trying to define language in their own ways even though all those definitions are far from satisfactory.’ Ngonebu (2) quoting Pit Corder(1973) observes that ‘what we take language to be is influenced and determined by why we want to know what language is. Language according to Ferdinand de Saussure in Hartzeler (11) ‘… exists only by virtue of sort of contract signed by the members of a community.’ Agbedo quoting Sapir and Whorf (1940) notes that:

The background linguistic system of each language is not merely a reproducing instrument for voicing ideas but rather is itself the shaper of ideas the programme and guide for the individual’s mental activity, for his analysis of impressions synthesis of his mental stock in frade…

Being specific to humans, language serves as vehicle for communication; a unique attribute of man as homosapiens.


Otagburuagu and Okorji (1) see language as “an intrinsic inheritance of man. Professor Palmer quoted in Otagburuagu and Okorji (1) makes this clear in his statement that; “What sets man a part from the rest of the animal kingdom is his ability to speak, he is man the speaking animal – homologues. J.C Huebsch quoted in Otagburuagu and Okorji sees language as:

The medium we use to shape and express our thoughts. It consists of a series of verbal and non verbal presentations of ideas and concepts and these are expressed through symbols and signs by means of which our thoughts are logically and intelligibly substantiated.


According to Prasad (1) language does not come into being overnight; It evolves a period of time. He goes further to state that, ‘it is neither an organism as many nineteenth century linguists saw it, nor an edifice, as was regarded in the early modern ‘structuralist’ period of linguistics. It is an activity basically of four kinds: speaking, listening, writing and reading’


As man lives in society, language is essentially a social phenomenon by which interaction and co-operation among the members of the society become possible. This is in line with the view of Nwodo (4) that language is “a system of sounds used by the people of a particular country, area or tribe.” Quirk in Aja (51) also supports this view when he maintains that ‘language in its abstract form is our facility to talk to each other, it is the faculty of speech which all human beings held in common.’ Finegan (6) also shares this view when he maintains that language ‘is a vehicle of thought, a system of expression that mediates the transfer of thought from one person to another. He observes that the fundamental function of every language system is to link meaning and expression- to provide verbal expression for thought and meaning. He goes further to say that ‘expression’ encompasses words, phrases, and sentences, including intonation and stress while meaning refers to the sense and referents of these elements of expression. Writing on the relationship between language and society, Fromkin and Rodman (3) observe that:

Whatever else people do when they come together – whether they play, fight, make love or make automobiles-they talk. We live in a world of language…Hardly a moment of our working lives is free form words… it is language that is the source of human life and power.

The above assertion lends credence to the fact that language lies at the core of social co-existence. This is why Hall in Lyons (60) sees language as ‘the institution whereby humans communicate and interact with each other by means of habitually used oral auditory arbitrary symbols.’ Prasad (1) also agrees with this position when he asserts that:

Language is the chief source of communication of ideas. There are some other ways also, such as dance, music, physical gesture, and symbol, through which we can communicate the ideas. But language is a very common and an easy, source of communication. It is the basis of human civilization, which would have been impossible without it.


Through language, we express our thoughts, feelings, and emotions, preserve our cultural heritage, impart knowledge, disseminate information, settle disputes and interact with one another.


Language cuts across every sphere of life: Scientific, technological, religious, social, personal and interpersonal spheres. These different arrears of endeavour which language is used suggest that there is a wide variety of language occasioned by the context of use and market place language which is the interest of this research work is not exempted.


A market is one of many varieties of systems, institutions, procedures, social relations and infrastructures whereby parties may exchange goods and services by barter. Most markets rely on sellers offering their goods and services (including labour) in exchange for money from buyers. It can also be said that a market is the process in which the prices of goods and services are established. Rutherford (286) defined market as ‘a medium for exchanges between buyers and sellers.’ Market according to Longe (246) may be defined ‘as a place where goods and services are exchanged.’ In the words of Anyanwuocha (237), a market is ‘any arrangement, system or organization whereby buyer and sellers of goods and services are brought into contact with one another for the purpose of transacting business.’ He goes further to say that they could be in contact by using different types of communication systems-telephone, letter, or telegraphic system. This is in line with the view of Bennet (27) who sees a market as ‘an actual or normal place where forces of demand and supply operate, and where buyers an sellers interact (directly or through intermediaries) to trade goods, services, or contracts or instruments, for money or barter’


Before the interaction of these forces of demand and supply, one has to be interested in the product, have resources to purchase the product and must also be permitted to do so. This is why Kotler (14) observes that the term market refers to ‘the group of consumers or organizations that is interested in the product, has the resources to purchase the product, and is permitted by law and other regulations to acquire the product.’ In his word, ‘product’ refers to both physical products and services. In the words of Assael (125), ‘markets include mechanism or means for determining price to the traded item, communicating the price information facilitating deals and transactions, and effecting distribution.’ Some markets are physically located in one place; others connect buyers and sellers by telephone, fax and telex. As Rutherford observes; markets for goods and services are termed ‘produce’ markets; for labour and capital ‘factor markets.’ He goes further to say that there is a linkage between factor and product markets in that the demand for a factor is derived from the demand for its product. Competitive markets rely on much larger numbers of both buyers and sellers. A market with single seller and multiple buyers is a monopoly. A market with a single buyer and multiple sellers is a monopsony. These are the extremes of imperfect competition. Rutherford (286) maintains that, ‘the existence of many market imperfections, e.g. monopoly and asymmetric information, distort markets. A full set of market must include markets for futures and for risk-taking.’ In other words, for a market to be competitive there must be more than a single buyer or seller. It has been suggested that two people may trade, but it takes at least three persons to have a market, so that there is competition on at least one of its two sides.


However, this interaction and competition that are paramount in a market are made possible by language. This implies that just as language is vital in all spheres of life, markets are not exceptional.  This is why this work tends to analyze market place language with reference to markets in Enugu metropolis




The English language occupies a prominent position in the nation as a second language due to the multiplicity languages in our multilingual society. Thus, it builds a bridge across the communication barriers created by the existence of those languages. M.C Arthur (39) confirms this assertion in these words:


In Nigeria, English is official because, as a colonial and post colonial second Language, it has been ethically neutral, generally accessible, and acceptable, “faute de meiux” to the many district regional communities, the foremost of those languages are Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba.


The English Language is not indigenous to Nigeria, it is a colonial heritage. In Nigeria, it is the language of commerce, education, politics, communication, science and technology as well as other governmental transaction. In recent times, however, the standard of English has fallen in the country and a lot has been done in terms of curriculum development, textbook review and selections even training of teachers of English to uplift this standard. Studies like ‘Syllabus Formation in Secondary Schools in Enugu State: An Appraisal’ and many others have been carried out to establish whether government education policies contribute to the fall. Some people have carried out researches on students and teachers of the language with emphasis on the teaching methodology some of which are: ‘Teaching and learning the Basic English Language Skills in Enugu State Secondary Schools: An Appraisal’ by Adama, Elias (2000), ‘The Effects of Pronunciation on the  Teaching and Learning of Grammar’ by Ayogu N.J (1999) and so on. Other researches have also looked at the language of law, medicine, advertising the police force, politics, text messages and so on. Some of these studies include: ‘Language of Advertising an Appraisal’ by Emele, G.N (1998), ‘Linguistic Features of the Language of Medicine in Nigeria’ by Ezekulie, Chinelo (2008), ‘A syntactic Analysis of Cell Phone Text Messages and Texting process’ by Ugwuadu, Grace (2010), ‘Stylistic Analysis of the language of Sports Reports in the Print Media’ by Ndaguba, R.E (1988), and many others. But no work has been done on market place language especially with reference to Enugu metropolis.



The purpose of this research is to examine the language of sellers and buyers in Enugu metropolitan markets. Specifically, the researcher wishes to:

  1. Examine the Linguistic Stylistic use of language by traders and buyers during different seasons in the year.
  2. Observe language use and socio-economic status.
  • Identify language use between genders.
  1. Finally, make suggestion that will be beneficial to both sellers and buyers.


Everyone goes to the market either directly or indirectly. The results of this research are expected to create an awareness of how language is used in the market place at different seasons, times, days, location and so on. It will yield very useful information to the government so that while making laws guiding the market, they will take into consideration the interest of the sellers as well as buyers. The suggestions made by the researcher will also help both sellers and buyers to be aware of the market place language in other to fit in at all times. The study will also be of interest to the linguist as it reveals variation in language that takes place within certain contextual parameters. It will also reveal much about the creative and open ended aspect of language use. Finally, this research will become a basis for further research.



This work limits itself to three markets in Enugu metropolis; ‘Ogbete Main Market’, ‘Ahia Nine’ and ‘New Market’. The researcher goes to these markets to listen, observe and record in tapes some of the speeches of these traders and analyze them thereafter.