International Journal of English Language and Linguistics Research (IJELLR)

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Face Acts and Impoliteness Strategies in Olusegun Obasanjo’s ‘Before it is too late’


Unlike the earlier linguistic studies of political discourse which focused on the genres of campaign speeches, presidential inaugural addresses, interviews, political advertisements and newspaper advertorials, this study examines the face acts and impoliteness strategies in Obasanjo’s appeal letter to former Nigerian President Jonathan; titled ‘Before it is too late” ( i.e BITL). Simple percentage statistical tool was used to analyse the face acts and impoliteness strategies in it.  Besides, Brown and Levinson’s (1987) face acts, Culpeper’s (1996), impoliteness and VanDijk’s (1977) socio-cognitive theories serve as the eclectic theoretical framework for the study.  The findings revealed that Obasanjo’s BITL is characterised by FTA with redress, bald-on-record politeness and FSA . The text is equally characterised by bald-on-record impoliteness, mock impoliteness, as well as  negative and positive impoliteness strategies. Also, Obasanjo used dysphemisms and expletives as tools to butt Goodluck Jonathan and to impose on his audience’s face want.  The author rides on participants’ shared cognitive and situational knowledge to pract threatening, condemning warning, stating, praising and sympathising. It was also revealed that FSA was used by Obasanjo to exonerate himself from the alleged Jonathan’s ‘misrule’.  The paper concludes that only the understanding of cognition, discourse and context interface could be used to infer the meaning construction and comprehension as well as the author’s intention from the text of BITL.

Keywords: BITL, Cognition, Discourse, Nigerian politics, Power

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