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Topic Description



1.0       Introduction

This study focuses on the use of negation in presidential speeches. Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) and other methodologies are used in other to explain the different forms of negation and their function in the inaugural speeches of two Nigerian Presidents, GoodLuckEbeleJonahan and Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. The chapter will give an insight into the background to the study; statement of the problem, purpose of the study; objectives of the study, significance of the study and lastly, the scope of the study. The knowledge to be derived from this study will enable one to analyse political speeches such as campaigns and formal speeches delivered by political figures and also the functions of negation in such speeches.

1.1       Background to the Study    

Language is used as a means of communication, which helps people to interact with one another socially and emotionally in our society. Human beings understand each other by the process of speaking. Philips etalcited in Ahmed, views speaking as the comment that holds friendships, families, communities, societies and government together (1). Thus, for any significant development to occur in a society, people have to engage in communication. One of the ways of studying language use in the society is discourse analysis. Discourse is a means of communication seen as transaction between a speaker and a hearer and as inter-personal activities whose form is determined by its social purpose. Discourse Analysis on the other hand focuses on the structures of natural occurring spoken Languages found in ‘discourse’ as in conversations and speeches. Critical Discourse Analysis is a branch of Discourse Analysis that perceives Language use as a social practice. The users of Language do not function in isolation, but in a set of cultural, social and psychological frameworks. CDA accepts this social context and studies the connections between textual structures by taking this social context into account and explores the link between textual structures and their function within the society.

Fairclough in his definition perceives CDA as; discourse analysis which aims to systematically explore often opaque relationships of causality and determination between (a) discursive practice, events and texts, and (b) wider social and cultural structures, relations and processes; to investigate how such practices events and texts arise out of and are ideologically shaped by relationships between discourse and society is itself a factor securing power and hegemony (135). “Critical’ implies showing connections and causes which are hidden; it also implies intervention, for example, providing resources for those who may be disadvantaged through change” (Fairclough). CDA studies the way social power abuse, dominance, and inequality are enacted, reproduced and restricted by text and talk in the social and political context. Language is used in discourse and every language has the ability to express negation. Negation modifies information which is present in the common ground of discourse. It is a general feature of language. The forms and meaning of negation in English is not straight forward as what most linguists would like us to believe. An affirmative form expresses the validity or truth of a basic assertion. A negative form expresses the falsity of basic assertion. In English Language, sentences can be negated with the adverbs not and never, the determinant no, and the indefinite pronouns no one, nobody, and none as well as other negative words.

The analysis of negation in the selected inaugural speeches will not only be on Werth’s (1999) notion of negation. He sees negation as a sub-world that modifies information which is present in the common ground of discourse rather than how it has been used by politicians to cover up realities in order to achieve their political aims. However, Negation is logically complex and diverse in its meaning and forms (Horn and Kato in Ahmed, 23). Thus, the more we analyze discourse with negation, the more we understand that it is not what it means literally that matters in conversation, but how they reveal the intention of the speakers. A speech is a preplanned oration that is delivered to an audience at formal, professional, and political events. It is presented without visual aids to mainly inform, to persuade, or to entertain. Speeches are undeniably part of the political state of affairs. Once an individual has become a political figure, there will always be a time when the individual will be confronted with making a speech. An inaugural speech is a formal speech mainly presented by Presidents to mark the beginning of their term of office. It also expresses the intention of the Presidents as the head to the general public who vote them as leaders into office.

Therefore, Speeches are part of the political state of affairs and the use of negation in political speeches occurs in various ways to achieve different communicative functions which bring up the desire to find out the different strategies and roles negation played in presidential speeches. The major aim of political speeches is to persuade the audience on the validity of their political claims through the use of negation. For Presidents, the task of making a speech begins during their acceptance and inauguration speeches. Schaffnerin Ahmed supports the arguments that Language is an important factor in political speeches when he opines that any political action is prepared, accompanied, controlled and influenced by language (1).It means that Language is paramount to political speeches knowing the fact that all political activities are carried out through language.

Therefore, this work focuses strictly on doing a Critical Discuss Analysis of negation in the inaugural speeches of two Nigerian Presidents to unravel and identify the different ways negation is used in presidential speeches to manifest unequal power and inequality in discourse.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

Negation is generally seen as a form of Language use. Its meaning in English is not as straightforward as many linguists will want us to believe. For example ‘I have no book to study’. The linguists view is from the negative point of view of the affirmative sentence ‘I have books at all to read’ and many other examples with a deeper analytical level of the above sentence ‘I have no books at all to read’. The lack of straightforwardness in the forms and interpretation of negation has become an instrument in the hands of our political leaders to cover up the realities in order to achieve their political aims. The use of negation in political speeches is meant to achieve political action which is driven by the need to maintain power through a skillful use of language. For this reason, this study will unveil and identify the different ways negation is used in the selected inaugural speeches to portray lack of straightforwardness in their speeches.

After a thorough research carried out on the internet, text books and other printed materials from the libraries of other institutions, it is obvious that works in Critical Discuss Analysis (CDA) of negation is rarely done. In fact, the researcher is not aware of any previous work done on the topic A Critical Discuss Analysis of negation in the Inaugural Speeches of two civilian Nigerian Presidents. It is this paucity of research in this area that the current study hopes to address.

1.3       Purpose of the Study

This study aims at doing a critical discourse analysis of negation in the inaugural speeches of two civilian Nigerian Presidents. As a result of the problem stated above, this project will look at the language use in the social and political contexts in analyzing the negations in the inaugural speeches of former Presidents Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and GoodluckEbele Jonathan to fill a gap, which will move the academic frontiers forward.


1.4       Objectives of the Study

This study focuses on doing a Critical Discourse Analysis of negation in the inaugural speeches of two Nigerian Presidents. Thus the objectives of this study include:

  1. To reveal the various functions negation performs in the inaugural speeches asides the true-value of a positive negation in sentences.
  2. To identify the various techniques employed by the politicians to bring about negation.
  • To reveal how power is used through the different choice of negation by the Presidents in their inaugural speeches.
  1. To uncover the similarities and differences in the use of negation by the two Presidents of Nigeria.

1.5       Significance of the Study

Several works have been carried out on CDA such as Fairclough and Van Dijk respectively. The studies did not lay emphasis on the use of negation in presidential speeches. This research will be carried out to fill the gap left by earlier studies by adding a new notion to the studies of presidential discourse. It will also present a new area of concentration to linguist in identifying the different forms and roles of negation in sentences and utterances rather than the normal function of unveiling the truth-value of a sentence. This study is important because hitherto, a CDA of negation is not known to have been investigated. Its findings will enrich CDA as well as the analysis of presidential speeches or political discourse.

1.6       Scope of the Study

This study will analyse the inaugural speeches of former President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and GoodluckEbele Jonathan. For a detailed analysis, the study will be limited to only two speeches. The linguistic element that will be analysed is negation. The analysis will focus on the three parameters of Fairclough for a Critical Discourse Analysis of political discourse.

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