A Pragmatic Analysis Of Christian Handbills And Posters

Project and Seminar Material for Linguistics and Communication

Project and Seminar Material for Linguistics and Communication


Generally, christain handbills and posters are meant to invite people for programs in churches. Different handbills and posters have different meanings. It has been observed that there are other hidden meanings to these sentences, to this effect, the researcher hopes to highlight the meanings pragmatically. Data have been collected from churches and placement centers in Ilorin, the data will be analyzed using some pragmatics elements such as presupposition, implicature, context, etc. through which we will be able to deduce adherent meanings in christain handbills and posters. The study showed that many writers just design handbills without knowing the implied meaning of what they have written, by doing this, many readers have been led astray and made to believe things that were unintended. As a result of this work, we have been made to see that handbills and posters should not just be written without total consideration of what the readers might imply and assume.

Chapter One


Language is a sort of code system, a carrier of information which is capable of transmitting only intended meaning whatsoever. It also reveals man’s socio-cultural beliefs and thoughts. The importance of language is for easy communication, expression and enlightenment. The traditional linguists believe that language has an intended meaning and that the recipient has only to understand that meaning by interpreting it to make communication work. In that case, the above information given about language means that we can deduce different meaning from the same language used in different contexts.

Sanusi (1996 p 8) states that “if you have not developed language, you simply don’t have access to most of human experiences, and if you don’t have access to experience, then you are not going to be able to think. That is, language is very important and cannot be removed from a community or else, the community is officially dead.

The reason for success in a community is being able to communicate intelligibly because it is difficult to function without language.

Through language, several acts are performed and there are possibilities that the writer of a handbill can cajole people to come to his church by putting up an upcoming event. This is where pragmatics comes in, the writer of a handbill has used some pragmatic elements in the construction of those handbills and this is what the researcher has decided to show to all.

Pragmatics is an important aspect in the use of handbills and posters because it is necessary to decode the messages embedded in the handbills. The linguistic encyclopedia (1990) defines pragmatics as “the study of rule and principle which govern language in use”. That is, pragmatics is the study of language use.

1.1 Purpose of Study

Handbills and posters are well known by the people. It is here and there and people read them and just ignore some sentences that they see. In view of this, the researcher hopes to highlight these expressions and help bring out the meaning that they might have pragmatically. Doing this will help the writers and those reading them to know what a particular expression mean within and outside the context used.

1.2 Scope of Study

The scope of this study will be limited to the important role played by pragmatics in the expressions/sentences used in these handbills and posters.

There are so many handbills and posters in the world today, but, the researcher has limited this study to some of the handbills and posters in Ilorin and also the researcher has narrowed it down to twenty (20) Christian handbills and posters only.

1.3 Methodology

The research work is divided into four chapters for easy analysis. Chapter one introduces what the research work is all about. That is, the general introduction. The literature review makes up the next chapter which is chapter two.

The major data for this study will be gathered from some selected handbills and posters of Christian adverts in Ilorin. A total sample of twenty (20) handbills and posters will be collected and analyzed in chapter three (3). Chapter four (4) sums up the whole work with observations, summary and conclusions. Then the references end it.

1.4 Justification

Although, researches have been carried out in this field, the researcher aims to add more to what other researcher must have done. The researcher is willing to know if the expressions on those handbills and posters have other meanings.

This study will also help to promote the study of pragmatics in the field of language study. It will also serve as a guideline for students who might be interested in this field to know the effect of pragmatics on the expressions used in handbills and posters.

1.5 Christian Handbills and Posters

Handbills and posters are used by so many people; they are used by music industries, beauty pageantries, schools, Muslims, Christians. Etc. but the researcher considers Christian/church handbills and posters most suitable for this research work.

Christians are people who believe in the Almighty God and worship him in church. They are headed by pastors, deacons, elders, priests, bishops, reverend fathers, etc. we have different kinds of churches in Nigeria, we have the Catholics, Anglicans, Pentecostals, etc. and each of these want people/Christians to worship in their churches. In order to achieve this aim, they do things like evangelism, crusades, praise nights, sharing of handbills etc. telling them about upcoming event/events or about their church services.

Most of these handbills and posters contain the names of their churches, host pastors, venue, time, themes, and other sentences to encourage them to come, some of these sentences include testimonies, words of encouragement etc. the main in general is to invite people to their churches in order to fellowship with them.

Handbills and posters are littered everywhere but just few will be selected for the progress of this work.

1.6 Summary

This chapter has been able to give a general introduction on language, Pragmatics and Christian handbills and posters. It also stated the purpose, scope, methodology, justification, of the research. It also gave us a little insight on Christian handbills and posters.

The next chapter will be a review of the works of various scholars based on the research.

Chapter Four

Summary, Findings and Conclusions

4.0 Introduction

In the previous chapter, the analysis of the data was done. This chapter will consist of the summary of the research work, the findings in the data and the conclusions drawn from the whole work.

4.1 Summary

This whole work focuses on how to apply some pragmatic elements to the analysis of some selected christain hand bills and posters. Therefore, it has looked at some areas in which pragmatic elements can be seen. The study has been divided into four chapters.

Chapter one contains the introduction of the research work and how language can function in pragmatics including how it is effectively used in Christian handbills and posters, it also contained the purpose, scope, justification, and the research methodology detailing the data to be used, how they were chosen and where they were chosen from. The summary of the chapter concluded it.

Chapter two entails the review of related works in the field of pragmatics with scholars like Austin, Searle, Adegbija, Mey, Yule etc, the review of the elements of pragmatics and a review of the christain handbills and posters. The chapter ends with an appraisal of the literature reviewed.

Chapter three examines the data, which is the presentation and analysis of the data using some pragmatic elements such as illocutionary act, context, presupposition, implicature, intention and the effect of the sentences on the reader using perlocutionary act.Finally, the chapter four of this research work contains the summary, findings and conclusions.

4.2 Findings

After the analysis of twenty (20) Christian handbills and posters, it can be found that some writers just write and design handbills without knowing the implied meaning of some of these sentences, some of these sentences may convey different meaning to different readers, different from the meaning that the writer was trying to imply.For instance: ‘the time of grace is now’. This sentence may mean that the time of grace is the current world time, maybe 12:00 pm to reader A, to reader B it may mean that exact time that he is reading it, it may convey the right message to reader C which is the time that the writer meant. Some handbills and posters might even be outdated and a reader is just seeing it this can also convey another meaning to the reader.

The writer might have assumed that by saying “the time for grace is now” the reader will know that he meant the time on the handbill not the particular time that the reader is reading it. And of course the man knows that God is a merciful God so the time of everybody is different if he/she doesn’t come then, God can schedule another time of grace for you but the reader may assume that if he/she doesn’t catch up with this time by coming for the service, he/she may never have an opportunity for grace again. In addition, while some of these sentences are encouraging, some are not because if a writer puts ‘now’, ‘right here’, ‘today’ etc and the reader miss this particular time, he feels bad and also feels that there might be no other time or day for that miracle again, meanwhile the writer was only trying to make it look urgent or important for them to be there probably because he has invited a special quest or for one reason or the other unknowing to him that he has assumed another meaning to the reader.

Most of the time, the intention of the reader is mainly to invite the reader to his church and because he knows that on a normal day someone will not just walk into his church except if there is a special occasion or invitation so goes an extra mile to write or design an handbill so that the reader will get interested. The reason for sharing these handbills and posters are to invite people to their churches. Most of the time when a person walks into a church for the first time and sees the kind of miracles or blessings that happens in side, there is a probability that he might want to continue coming and eventually turn the church to his worship centre and this was the main and first intention of the writer.

The researcher has been able to bring out the meaning of the expressions used in these handbills pragmatically, and has also tried to explain what they mean ordinarily which is the main meaning that the writer had in mind when producing or writing the handbill.

4.3 Conclusions

In conclusion, the research work as a whole has been able to analyze some Christian handbills and posters, saying what they literally mean and what they also mean using pragmatic elements. The knowledge of pragmatics that was introduced into analyzing the data makes it very easy to understand the expressions in the data.

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