A Pragmatic Analysis Of Slang And Catchy Phrases Used In Some Selected Nigerian Hip-Hop Songs

Project and Seminar Material for Linguistics and Communication

A Pragmatic Analysis Of Slang And Catchy Phrases Used In Some Selected Nigerian Hip-Hop Songs


Abstract


Slangy expressions and catchy phrases are deliberately used in hip-hop songs in order to reduce the degree of vulgarity in the content of the song so as not to disrupt society moral norms, and to increase the rate of acceptability of such song amidst listeners, to avoid direct stating of the name of the referent (s) in a satirical song for instance, and also for singers to create a landmark worth discussing even while the song is no longer in vogue.

Aside all these, slang forms and catchy phrases give linguistic aesthetics to song and most importantly, they enable singers to pass across a whole lot of messages, even while they utter just few of these messages. This implies that there are hidden messages in slang forms and catchy phrases used in hip-hop songs, and for these hidden messages to be known to listeners, a particular level of language analysis has to be put in place. This level is found to be pragmatics. It is therefore to this end that this study sets out to undertake a pragmatic analysis of slang and catchy phrases used in some selected Nigerian hip-hop songs.

The objective of this study is to identify the real meanings of slang forms and catchy phrases that are used in Nigerian hip-hop songs, with reference to the overall meanings of these songs themselves. This identification will in turn help us to state the reasons why they (these slang forms and catchy phrases) are used in the songs and their contributions to the singers’ intended meanings of these songs. Haven achieved this objective, we conclude that, for real meanings of hip-hop songs to be known to all and sundry, a pragmatic analysis is necessary.


Table of Content


  • Title page
  • Certification page
  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgement
  • Abstract
  • Table of content

Chapter One

1.0 Introduction

  • 1.1 General Introduction
  • 1.2 Purpose of the Research
  • 1.3 Justification of the Study
  • 1.4. Research question
  • 1.5. Research Hypothesis
  • 1.6. Scope of the Study
  • 1.7. Methodology of Research

Chapter Two:

2.0 Literature Review

  • 2.1. Pragmatic
  • 2.1.1.0 Goals of Pragmatics and its Theories
  • 2.1.1.1 Goals of Pragmatics Theories
  • 2.1.2.0 Theories of Pragmatics
  • 2.1.2.1 A.J.L. Austin’s Theory
  • 2.1.2.2 John .R Searle’s Theory
  • 2.1.2.3 Kent Bach and Robert Harnish’s Theory
  • 2.1.3.0 Elements of Pragmatic
  • 2.1.3.1 Intention
  • 2.1.3.2 Presupposition
  • 2.1.3.3 Inference
  • 2.1.3.4 Reference
  • 2.1.3.5 Implicature
  • 2.1.3.6 Speech Act
  • 2.1.3.7 Context
  • 2.2 Aspects of meaning in pragmatics
  • 2.2.1 Meaning
  • 2.2.2 Denotation and connotation
  • 2.2.3 Encoding and decoding
  • 2.3 Slang
  • 2.3.1 Kinds of slang
  • 2.3.2 Usages of slang
  • 2.4 Hip-hop
  • 2.4.1 Definition and evolution of hip-hop
  • 2.4.2 Old school hip-hop
  • 2.4.3 Golden era of hip-hop
  • 2.4.4 Hip-hop in Nigeria

Chapter Three:

3.0 Data Analysis

  • 3.1 Song A: – ‘Maryjane’ by vector da viper
  • 3.1.1 Short summary
  • 3.1.2 Identified slangy forms
  • 2.1.3 Analysis of identified slangy forms
  • 3.2 Song B:-‘Petepete’ (mud) by 9ice
  • 3.2.1 Short summary
  • 3.2.2 Identified catchy phrases
  • 3.2.3 Analysis of identified catchy phrases
  • 3.3 Song C:-‘Otiyanyan’ by Slimjoe
  • 3.3.1 Short summary
  • 3.3.2 Identified slangy forms/Catchy phrases
  • 3.3.3 Analysis of identified slangy forms/catchy phrases
  • 3.4.Song D:-‘Enter d place’ by 2face Idibia
  • 3.4.1 Short summary
  • 3.4.2 Identified slangy forms
  • 3.4.3 Analysis of identified slangy forms

Chapter Four:

4.0 Summary, Findings & Conclusion

  • 4.1 Introduction
  • 4.2 Summary
  • 4.3 Findings
  • 4.4 Conclusions
  • Bibliography
  • Appendix

Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 General Introduction

Language is a major and an indispensable tool in human existence. No wonder Microsoft Encarta (2009) defines it as “the principal means used by human beings to communicate with one another”. Language is primarily spoken, although it can be transferred to other media such as written, non-verbal and so on. It is therefore, the bedrock of communication which holds a society together.

Communication occurs in various ways: in the forms of, interaction through conversation (discourse), speech delivery, the media (such as radio and television), sign language, music (irrespective of the genre) and many others. It is a point worth nothing here that, in each of these forms, pieces of information are essentially being invested with different senses(meanings), and passed across to different kinds of individuals who in turn deduce various meanings from the information passed, based on their individual views and prejudices about such information. Therefore, Mr. Ade’s interpretation of “i love you” may be different from that of Miss Kemi’s, even if the person singing/saying the utterance is the same. The whole of this process is called “encoding and decoding”.

Hip-hop is one of the genres of music, it is denotatively referred to as a type of modern dance music with spoken words and a steady beat played on electronic instruments. The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (2000, p.566). Nigerian hip-hop, the major concern of this research work consists of hip-hop songs, written, composed, arranged, sung, promoted, and marketed in Nigeria for Nigerians.The composition of Nigerian hip-hop songs involves the careful use of lexis (the total of words or vocabulary in a language) which appropriately expresses minds of hip-hop singers.Another important aspect in the lexis of Nigerian hip-hop is the “use of slang”. Elbe, (1996,p.3) defines slang as an ever changing and fashionable set of vocabulary of sociability used to express or reinforce identity cohesiveness within a group with a trend or fashion in a society at large.

It is to be noted that, certain lexical items are used in Nigerian hip-hop songs, especially those sung in Nigerian native languages (Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa), which do not perfectly fit into the space of a slang but are at the same time, not to be categorized as conventional day to day lexis. These lexical items for the purpose of this work, are tagged, “Catchy phrases”. An example is Atilaawi (Yoruba) (meaning “the one, whom we are talking about’’) which is deliberately chosen by a Yoruba hip-hop singer to satirize (criticize) a particular leader.

At this juncture, we can easily assert, that slangy forms and catchy phrases take an important quota in hip-hop songs in Nigeria.However, if the real meanings of these slangy forms and catchy phrases within the contexts of these songs will be known, a particular level of language analysis has to be put in place. This level of language analysis is found to be pragmatics.

Adegbija (1999, p.18) defines pragmatics as “the study of language use in particular communicative contexts”. Pragmatics is an important aspect in the use of slangy expressions because it is necessary to decode the messages embedded in slang. Olukoya (2010, p.2), this is to enable listeners to deduce the overall meanings of the utterance within which these slangy forms are used.

As a result of this, in this research work, we intend to identify the real meanings of slangy expressions and catchy phrases that are used in Nigerian hip-hop songs with reference to the overall meanings of these songs themselves. This will enable us to point out the reason why they were used in the songs and their contributions to the singers’ intended meanings. The purpose of all these is to make this form of music more accessible to all and sundry by enhancing their comprehension through a pragmatic analysis


1.2 Purpose of the Research

The purpose of this essay is to justify the deliberate insertion of slangy expressions and catchy phrases in the composition and rendition of Nigerian hip-hop songs. The study aims at asserting the fact that the singers’ intended meanings of these songs would not have been realizable without these slangy expressions and catchy phrases used in them. It therefore pragmatically analyses these slangy forms and catchy phrases with reference to the overall meanings of the songs.


1.3 Justification of the Study

In the course of gathering materials for this research work, we came across several other researches but only two of them are related to the topic in question. They are “A pragmatic Analysis of Slang Forms Used for Females Students in the university of Ilorin” Olukoya, B. (2010) and “A pragmatic Analysis of the Titles of English Church lyrics” Indarno (2000). None of these two deal with the specific focus of this research work. This essay is therefore embarked upon to add to existing knowledge and to enable readers to know that there is a lot more information beyond the surface meanings of the hip-hop songs they listen to.


1.4 Research Questions

  1. What are the factors that instigate a hip-hop singer’s choice of lexical items in the composition of his songs?
  2. What things does the singer generally take for granted about the hearers of the song?
  3. What makes the inflection of slangy expressions and catchy phrases compulsory, can’t they be avoided?

1.5 Research Hypothesis

  1. No hip-hop singer ever uses lexical items in his/her composition without a reason
  2. Listeners of hip-hop songs usually, generally share certain salient facts and information about the context of the songs with the singers.
  3. Certain slangy forms and catchy phrases are necessary.

1.6 Scope of the Study

This research work uses; a maximum of four (4) Nigerian hip-hop songs as data within which slangy forms and catchy phrases will be extracted. Also only the illocutionary speech act and five (5) other elements of pragmatics, which are context, presupposition, reference, intention, and inference, will be used in the analysis. This restriction is due to the fact that there are a lot of elements in pragmatics, some of which are specifically gotten from pragmatic and some others, gotten from theories of meaning and semantics. Therefore, in order to be explicit and to stay within the allocated paper space for this research work, this restriction is necessary.


1.7 Methodology

In carrying out this research work, four (4) Nigerian hip-hop songs will be selected as data within which slangy forms and unusual lexical items will be extracted. They are, “Maryjane” by vector Da Viper, “Petepete`” by 9ice, “Otiyanyan” by Slimjoe, and ‘‘Enter the place” by 2face. (Artists’ names are written in the forms they are referred to, by Nigerians and tracks are produced in Nigeria for Nigerians). The albums within which these tracks will be extracted respectively are State of Surprise (2010), Tradition (2010), Otiyanyan Reloaded (2010) and Unstoppable (2010).

The criteria for selecting these tracks revolve around language, whose usage is the primary concern of this work. “Maryjane” combines pure English, pidgin version of it, and a German variety of English (Patois), “Petepete” (mud) is sung using a purely native Nigerian language(Yoruba), ‘‘Otiyanyan’’ is sung, using a combination of a native Nigerian language (Yoruba) and the pidgin variety of English language, while ‘‘Enter the place’’ is sung using the pidgin variety of English alone. These tracks will be carefully and repeatedly listened to in order to gather their lyrics. Also, consultations will be made into library reference materials, textbooks, and the internet in order to get materials relating to pragmatics, music (hip-hop), and slang and also meaning in general.

The intended technique of analysis will involve a short general description of the songs, one after the other, and identification of slangy forms and catchy phrases found in them. Finally, a detailed pragmatic analysis of these slangy forms and catchy phrases will be done using illocutionary act, context, presupposition, reference, intention and inference. It is to be noted, that the direct, full version of the lyrics of the songs will be attached as appendix in this research work.


Chapter Four


4.0 Summary, Findings & Conclusion

4.1 Introduction

In this chapter, we intend to summarize all that has been done from chapters one to three. Attempts will be made to bring out findings, and a reasonable conclusion will be offered for the research work.


4.2 Summary

The major preoccupation of this research work has been to apply pragmatics to the analysis of slang forms used in some selected Nigerian hip-hop songs; such that the meanings of these slang forms with reference to the overall meanings of the song will be identified. The work is divided into four (4) chapters.

Chapter one begins with the general introduction, the purpose and justification of the study, and also states the research hypothesis and questions .This chapter also defines the scope and limitation as well as the methodology of the study.

Chapter two carries out a review of related literatures in order to establish a foundation on which the study is based. Areas such as pragmatics, its goals and theories, slang, and hip-hop are discussed.

Chapter three carries out a pragmatic analysis of slang forms that are extracted from certain Nigerian hip-hop songs using pragmatic elements such as intention, reference, presupposition, context, inference, and also by identifying the illocutionary act each slang form performs.

Finally, chapter four gives the summary, the findings and the conclusion of the study.


4.3 Findings

From the analysis of twenty-one (21) slang forms/catchy phrases used in some selected Nigerian hip-hop songs, it can be found that no slang form has a conventionally static meaning. This is because meaning in slang, changes according to context of use. An example is ‘‘blow’’ which can either mean (i), accomplishment or success in a particular internet transaction or business, as in ‘‘I don blow o’’-(I have a financial breakthrough), or (ii) an act of spending lavishly in another sense as in ‘‘come blow with us eh’’-(come and spend lavishly with us).

We also found that hip-hop music is in no way just an art for art sake that is meant just for aesthetics alone. We found that it is generally captioned under ‘‘entertainment ’’ and people therefore generally limit its essence within the scope of entertainment, and that when they appraise it (hip-hop music) form the surface level, it look so trivial, but we found that there a lot more meanings embedded within it ,when one goes deep to access its implicit meaning(s). In order words, we found that hip-hop music is functional and its essence cannot be underestimated, as it is didactic in nature, that is, it informs about the situation of things in people’s lives, in a nation, and so on, and also teaches about societal correction and development, and youth morality.

Furthermore, we found that slang forms and catchy phrases are inevitable in Nigerian hip-hop songs, as they are the best method a hip-hop singer uses, to carefully structure certain vulgar utterances and also to euphemize certain embarrassing and unpleasant utterances. We also found that slang forms and catchy phrases are deliberately used by Nigerian hip-hop singers to enable them to avoid direct stating of a referent being criticized, especially in satirical hip-hop songs. An example is‘‘Atilaawi’’-(the one, whom we are talking about), which is used to refer to a particular sit-tight politician in Nigeria, instead of mentioning his name.

In addition, we found that no hip-hop singer chooses slang forms and catchy phrases arbitrarily. They consider factors such as, currency and relevance of slang forms and catchy phrases to the subject matters of the songs, the general beliefs and norms which are both known to the singers and the listeners, the purposed goal for singing such songs, the social status of the target listeners in terms of age and exposure, and the interpretability and accessibility of slang chosen.

Finally, we found that hip-hop singers usually take for granted certain factors about the totality of the target listeners. Singers believe the target listeners all share these qualities, and that these factors aid their (listeners’) inferences and identification of the singers’ intended meanings. These factors include the belief that all the target listeners know the singer and the kind of song he sings, the belief that they all know the person(s) or object(s) being referred to in the song, and the belief that the language of rendition used in the song is understood by almost all, if not all target listeners.


4.4 Conclusion

In conclusion, this research work has been able to analyze slang forms and catchy phrases used in some selected Nigerian hip-hop songs by applying some elements of pragmatics to them. This has enabled us to point out the reasons why these slang forms and catchy phrases were used, and their contributions to the overall meanings of the songs. It is on this note that we say, the knowledge of pragmatics makes hip-hop music and other genres of music, to be easily accessible to all and sundry.


A Pragmatic Analysis Of Slang And Catchy Phrases Used In Some Selected Nigerian Hip-Hop Songs


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A Pragmatic Analysis Of Slang And Catchy Phrases Used In Some Selected Nigerian Hip-Hop Songs


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