A Systemic Text Linguistic Study Of Selected Nigerian Novels

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A Systemic Text Linguistic Study Of Selected Nigerian Novels


The aim of this research was to do an in-depth study of the variations in language as used by the various novelists in the novels selected for this study. The objectives of the study were to investigate the divergent ways in which these writers have creatively used English to perform the functional role of communication in a non-native environment, show the extent to which their various choices succeed in the supposed semantic function, show how systemic text linguistic approach is a departure from other stylistic approaches and to show how the features of these “Englishes” contribute to the development of the concept of global English. The novels studied are Chukwuemeka Ike’s Our Children Are Coming, Festus Iyayi’s The Contract and Abubakar Gimba’s Witnesses to Tears.

The study is a text linguistic one based on the Systemic Functional model. The two text linguistic concepts of “projection” and “procedure” were used in the selection of data from the chosen texts for analysis. The data gathered were analyzed according to the three meta-levels of Primitive, Second order and Prime order developed from the three levels of thesis, immediate situation and wider situation in text linguistics. The study revealed that all the three novels studied project a central message each. This is contrary to the age long belief and tradition of multiple messages in a second order text. The study also revealed that each author projects the message of his text using the three aforementioned levels of meaning. However, each author uses these levels in a manner that is peculiarly functional. The study as well revealed that the messages projected by the novels are interrelated, as they all bring human nature under scrutiny based on the philosophical and linguistic idiosyncrasies of these authors.

Chapter One

1.0 Introduction

This work is divided into five chapters. The first chapter is the introductory chapter which discusses the background of the research, the problem that the research is intended to solve, the aim and the objectives of the research, the questions that are to be answered in the course of this research, justification of the research as well as the scope and delimitation of the research.

The second chapter contains a review of essential literature relevant to the topic of this research in order to show the extent of data in existence in this area of study with a view to showing the contribution of this research to knowledge. The third chapter is devoted to a discussion of the methodology of this research. It gives a comprehensive explanation on the way features of language are gathered for analysis and the analytical procedure used for the study of the selected texts. The fourth chapter discusses analytically the various linguistic features identified as worthy of discussion in this research based on the approach stated in the third chapter. Chapter five contains a summary of the entire study, conclusions drawn from the research.

1.1 Background of the Study

For several decades now in Nigeria, there have been in existence a number of divergent views on the kind of English used by Nigerian writers of fiction. Scholars such as Adetugbo (1971), Afolayan (1980), Bamgbose (1995) and several others have expressed views on this subject matter. In summary, these writers have identified two groups of writers of fiction in Nigeria. The first group, they remark, uses indigenous English, while the second group has a flawless command of English, but continues to adapt it to suit their peculiar environment for the purpose of effective performance (Jibrin 2005).

However, there is no doubt that there is often a problem generally associated with mastering a foreign language as well as using a foreign language to express local sensibilities. The reason is that, a second language learner always acquires his first language before his second language. The system of this first language often interferes with his learning of a second language. Then the foreign language does not have ready mechanism with which to express other people’s culture. As Nigerian writers try to master English in order to be able to adapt it to carry the weight of their native experience, their various mother tongues keep interfering. This is often the case of bilinguals who have to make creative efforts in a foreign language. There are two popular but sharply contrasting positions in Nigeria as far as the use of English in fiction is concerned. The first group was championed by late Obi Wali who barely three years after Nigeria’s independence, predicted a dead end for all African literature written in English:

The whole uncritical acceptance of English and French as the inevitable media of educated African writing is misdirected and has no chance of advancing African literature… this would be pursuing a dead end which can only lead to sterility, uncreativity and frustration (Wali1963:14).

A Systemic Text Linguistic Study Of Selected Nigerian Novels

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