A Syntactic Analysis Of Selected Clausal Coordinates As Used In The Amended 1999 Constitution Of The Federal Republic Of Nigeria

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A Syntactic Analysis Of Selected Clausal Coordinates As Used In The Amended 1999 Constitution Of The Federal Republic Of Nigeria


The language of law has been viewed by many as difficult to understand primarily because of archaism in its morpho-syntactic structure. Also, the Latin and French maxims that have characterised legalese have prevented some researchers from delving into it. Another issue of concern to some researchers has to do with the longwinded sentence structure of legalese. Therefore, this study looks at how clauses are coordinated by and, but and or in the long sentences used in the Amended 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with the aim of analysing the coordinated clauses, stating the syntactic implications associated with clausal coordination as well as determining the possible interpretation of the sections of the constitution where they are used. The study sets out to help non-legal practitioners comprehend sections of the constitution where clauses are coordinated as part of the Plain English campaign going on across the world.

The scope of the study is limited to clausal coordination as the thesis topic implies. The theoretical Framework for the study was Systemic Functional Grammar. Halliday‟s symbols for dividing texts into constituent syntactic structures were used in the course of analysing and interpreting the data collated from a copy of the constitution procured by the researcher. Twenty-six compound and compound-complex sentences were randomly picked for analyses. Analyses were done in a tabular form of six columns: column one for serial number, two for the text, three for the source of the text, four for the text‟s analysis, five and six are for the syntactic implication of coordination and the realization possible meaning. The result of the analyse revealed that clauses are intentionally coordinated in some sections of the constitution for a number of reasons, such as: the need to further clarify the provision in the first conjoin with the one in the second conjoin; the room for the realization of a combination of alternatives, amongst others.

Chapter One

General Introduction

1.0 Introduction

This chapter is divided into six parts. It discusses the background to the study. It also looks at the statement of the problem with the research questions arising from it. The aim and objectives of the study, together with its scope are also captured in this chapter.

1.1 Background to the Study

A constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or an organization is governed. An organization can be better run administratively if it has a constitution that will serve as a guide. In a nutshell, there is no formal organization without a constitution. The smooth operation of every government and society depends to a very large extent on how well its constitution, written or unwritten, flexible or rigid, serves its citizens (Ibileye, 2002:1).

Nigeria, as a sovereign state, has a rich history of constitutional developments because of the yearnings of Nigerians in all areas of endeavours which has not been met. Between 1922 and 1999, the country has been administered under several constitutions. In 1922, The Clifford Constitution was enacted.

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