This study investigates the news reporting of 2015 General Elections in some Nigerian newspapers using the lexico-grammatical analysis paradigm of SFG. The print media is one of the major channels of information dissemination with a peculiar language use. The problem lies on the need of investigating the language of the print media to unveil the lexico-grammatical features that have made it effective for the audience to understand the information contents meaningfully.. Some of the highlights of the study include: the concept of lexico-grammar and its features, context of situation and culture, language functions and the semantic stratum. The study derived its theorem from Halliday‘s systemic framework of lexico-grammatical analysis. The population of the study comprised a deliberate collection of four Newspapers from libraries and media houses. The selected areas used for data collection included the headlines, introductions and the news reports. A textual analysis of newspapers was used in evaluating the data collected to answer the research questions. The researcher applied lexico-grammatical analysis on the data in order to discover its prominent features. The study established that the print media employed theme and information systems to indicate the organization of information.. It is also revealed that transitivity systems help in the description of experiences of the world.. It was established that attitudinal lexis were used which are associated with aesthetic and emotive undertones. It was observed that finite clauses were used to achieved tense, number, person, concord, and to indicate mood and modality. Mood systems were used to indicate interactional meanings of the participants and the attitude and judgment of the speaker and also were used to expressed probability, ability, obligation, inclination, certainty, willingness. Non-finites were used for modification and indicating the future plans of the subject respectively.


Title page i

Approval page ii

Certification page iii

Acknowledgements iv

Dedication v

Table of Contents vi

Abstract vii

Chapter One: Introduction

1 Background to the Study 1-6

2 Statement of the Problem 7

3 Purpose of the Study 7-8

4 Significance of the Study 8

5 Scope of the Study 8-9

6 Research Questions 9

Chapter Two: Review of Relevant Scholarship

2.1 Conceptual Framework 10

The Structure of Language in Society/ Speech Community

2.2 Language Functions and the Semantic Stratum 11-14

2.3 Language and the Coding System in SFL 15-16

2.4 The Nature of Language 16-17

2.5 Context of Situation/Culture


28-30 17-28

2.7 Lexico-grammatical Systems 31-35

2.9 Headline, Sub-headline and News reports 35-36

2.10 Empirical Studies 36-42

2.11 Summary of Literature Review 42-43

Chapter Three: Methodology and Procedure

3.1 Theoretical Framework 44-51

3.2 Research Method 52

3.3 Area of the Study 52

3.4 Population and sample of the Study 52

3.5 Data Collection 53

3.6 Method of Analysis 53

Chapter Four:

4.1 Analysis and Discussion of Findings 54-99

Chapter Five:

Observations, Recommendations, Conclusions and Suggestions for Further


Observations, 100-102

5.1 Recommendations 102

5.2 Conclusions


5.3 Suggestion for Further Research 103

Works Cited 104-108




1 Background of the Study

The Print Media and the English Language in Nigeria

The enormous expansion of the print media industry in the latter part of the 19th century has been a very interesting phenomenon. The expansion could not have taken place as such but for the increase in government‘s dissemination of its policies, programmes and other important national and international events. These are publicized through the newspapers, magazines and journals in the English language. Journalists have watched with mounting interest the ever-increasing number of people who become aware of the benefits of the print media and have doubled efforts to see that their readership demands are satisfied.

Different languages are spoken in Nigeria. It is the multilingual nature of Nigeria, and the non-elevation of one of the languages to serve as a national or official language that the English language is now being used by the print media in the dissemination of information to every part of the country. Olagoke summarizes the role of the English language in the following terms:

Because of the extreme multiplicity of languages in most ELS countries and the relatively underdeveloped state of the indigenous languages, and also for reason of colonialism which had given a lot of prestige and bread and butter advantage to the study of English, the language is used for official purposes and for education, commerce, administration, the media and for national and international communication. (25)

The English language is used by the ethnic groups in Nigeria, both for inter-

ethnic and, at times, intra-ethnic communication. This gives rise to the use of English in the print media as the language of the masses in order to enhance popular demand. In the words of Emenyonu and Nta (qtd in Osuafor,16) the overall influence of the English language in Nigeria as regards inter-ethnic communication is thus: ―The choice of a national language has become a more political issue than a linguistic issue. Ethnic groups in Nigeria interpret the language as the country‘s linqua franca as a way of conferring political domination on that particular ethnic group‖ (18).

It is glaring that effective inter-ethnic communication cannot be complete and meaningful without effective dissemination of information to everywhere in the country. To this end, the print media is fulfilling this role by employing the resource of the English language. The English language has been adopted and appropriated by Nigerians and used as the language of education and the print media and made to fill all the roles normally reserved for the mother tongue.

The position of the English language as an official language arises from this important role attached to it as both the language of official transaction (sanctioned by law) as well as the language of cultural expression, education, and information dissemination. It is in fostering unity, education, and information for the ethnic groups that the print media use the English language as the language of information communication. Thus it has been urged that we can believe in ―the value of English to the very survival of the Nigerian nation without feeling like deserters‖ (Achebe, 25).The English language which is an official language in Nigeria has also been adopted in private and in corporate and government functions. This is because the English language is a unifying and integrating language among the multi-ethnic groups in Nigeria. To this end, the print media in promoting the unification and the

communicating ends of the ethnic groups have resorted to using the English language in their day to day dissemination of information in the country.

The increased need for communication and information among societies has led to the establishment of print media industries. Some print media houses use indigenous language either in newspaper or magazine to inform, educate and entertain their readers. However this does not reach a wide readership. In a recent study on the patterns of choice on the use of English and Yoruba as media of mass communication in Yoruba speaking areas of the country by Adenira, it is revealed that "there is a disparity in favour of English" (32). Communication can never be complete until it reaches the final consumer who understands it.

The mass media, radio, television, newspaper, magazines etc utilize the resources of the English language for all round human endeavour. Accordingly, Baldeh reinforces the multi-various uses of English thus:

As the language for wider communication between people of different ethnic groups and medium of general education, the news paper (mass media), affairs of government, the larger business, public agencies etc, it has rightly or wrongly become the tool for nationhood(39).

One of the functions of the mass media is to relate the happenings in the environment. This entails the process of collecting and distributing factual information about the state of the country and around the world; such collection and distribution of "news‖ is done in the English language. For the purpose of communicating ideas, events, information, opinions etc, the print media have a peculiar way of arranging their structures. They arrange their sentences in such a

way that the meanings of lexical items and syntactic structures have the intended meanings. The precise and concise use of words enhances the audience understanding of the messages. But at times, the structural arrangement is distorted resulting in vagueness and ambiguity.

The function of the language is to express and communicate information in a standard manner.

Accordingly, Banjo, Ayo says, ―The Nigeria press had contributed to the positive acquisition of English more than any other social institution in the country‖ (34). He also saw the language of the print media as serving a great role in determining the standards of correctness of the English Language. However, in respect of the above assertion, I will not concur entirely with Ayo Banjo for the reason that the Nigeria press usually uses ambiguous structures in its communication endeavour in other to enhance its trade. This may spell doom for Nigeria English learners.

The print media is where a writer‘s register of words: utilization of sentences, clauses, phrases and words are more prominent and because the print media has a tremendous influence on its audience, it arranges its structures well.

According to Okunna, ―It is a plain truth that mass communicators (media writers) use English more than the owners of the language. Indeed, they are called the users of the language‖(34). Structural grammar provides us the language user(communicators) and the language reader(audience) with a basis for understanding how a language is structured, what the possibilities of patterning are and indeed what the constraints are: For instance, we can say, ―I want a banana, perhaps even ―A banana want I‖ but not * ―I banana want a‖. (* denotes a non- grammatical one). It can be shown that in the structure of sentences some words have closer relationship to each other than other words in the same sentence.

Effective communication is the end product of a style of any language. This is because the distinctive use of English by the press is tailored towards relating the intended meaning of information within a short space. This type of language use is peculiar to the profession: this is popularly known as ―journalese‖ in journalistic parlance . Its peculiar use of English may not be said to be out of place, because the language use is oriented towards achieving its goal of educating and informing its overwhelming populous audience.

Lexico-grammar, according to Mathiessen, ―is the main source of expressing meanings, for realizing meanings in terms of grammatical structures and lexical items and that it could be seen as a more generalized system of content than semantics adding that it is the level of choice of words and grammatical structures‖(97). Allerton says that ―there is no hard-and-fast division between vocabulary and grammar, that the guiding principle in language is that the more general meanings are expressed through grammar, and the more specific meaning through the vocabulary‖(47).

―Lexico-grammar is the level at which the various patterns of semantic structure are realized in word form and is concerned with the classes of grammar (and in principle also lexical) unit and the relationships which may be established between them. Lexico-grammar accounts through syntax, morphology and lexis for wording structure and patterning of text (Morley, 21). Lexico-grammar in systemic linguistics, in essence, comprises the lexical items and the grammatical structures in a language. It is the area where word choice and selection is made in order to suit a particular speech situation or event.

Syntactic structure in lexico-grammar can be approached in two ways: formal and functional. ―Formal syntax deals with how words can combine to create units of form

and eventually sentences. This bottom-upwards perspective reflects the question

―what increasingly larger, formal units can we build up with words?‖.

Functional syntax, on the other hand, handles the way in which sentences are structured in terms of smaller functional elements and eventually words.( A functional element marks the syntactic role that a unit is playing in structure). Formal and functional syntax are thus seen as complimentary, they are interdependent, though they have different basic concerns. The lexico-grammar, therefore, will incorporate both the formal and functional features of syntactic structure (Morley, 22).

The components of lexico-grammatical include transitivity, mood, modal, theme and information structures. These are realized within the following sub-systems of active and passive voice, declarative, interrogative and imperative clause. Others include    pro-forms which serve as cohesive device, and finite and non-finite verbs for indicating tense and modality and modifier respectively.

The functional approach is seen in the stress on the role of social/cultural context and in the importance of the role of register, which consist of the environment in which text is instantiated. The researcher decided to delve into this problem to find out how language user makes appropriate language choices according to the variables in the context of situation, and the exchange of meaning becomes possible. Register is explained by three variables (field, tenor, and mode) that relate to three functional components, called meta-functions. Each of these functions then finds its own place in the lexico-grammatical systems through transitivity, mood and theme. These form part of the systems that consist of a range of choices or options, a set of possibilities that can be used in the grammar of language. That is to say, language users choose what they say from many options available to them in the language they use to achieve a

certain communicative function. There is a possible connection between form and function.

1 Statement of the Problem

Language is a set of systems. It is organized in interrelated patterns used to make meaning. Meaning is at the heart of everything in language. A user of language can choose any language item because it is a system of possibilities. It represents different ways, different choices to the user of language from all the levels of language. The print media is one of the major channels of information dissemination with the major characteristic of lending its contents understandable to the audience because of its peculiar language use. Then, the problem lies on the need of investigating the language of the print media to unveil the lexico-grammatical features that have made it effective for the audience to understand the information contents meaningfully or that have enhanced its communicative competence.

The lexico-grammatical components include: transitivity, mood, modal and information structure. Over the years, little or no attention has been paid to ascertain the lexico-grammatical content of the print media, and this has given the researcher the zeal to carry out the study.

1 Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to explore the lexico- grammmatical contents of the print media, especially the newspaper news reporting on the 2015 Nigerian

General Election. It is to find out how the components of lexico-grammar have contributed to effective choice of language use or meaning in the print media. The need is also to find out the extent the print media have displayed certain peculiar

lexical and grammatical features in the headlines and sub-headlines and how those features have contributed to their communicative function.

1 Significance of the Study

This work would make a significant contribution to knowledge because it will help newspaper audience to be fully aware of the lexico-grammatical features of the print media, and in so doing, expose them to have critical interpretation and thorough understanding of information contents.

The study will also help the undergraduate and post-graduate students especially those studying English as a course and the creative writers to have the understanding that meaning is also embedded in both situational and cultural contexts. This will help them to recognize that choosing the appropriate words to match a given function improves communicative competence.

Scholarly, it will help in understanding the grammatical forms of showing politeness strategies through mood/modal system; the processes and structures for depicting the world of reality or experiences through transitivity system and how to show thematic prominence and information focus through theme and information structures.

1 Scope of the Study

This study will look at the concepts of lexico-grammar, and the Halliday‘s systemic theory for the analysis of lexico-grammar. It is at this level that unit, class, structure and systems are described and choices made. The theory will be used for the analysis of the print media contents, with emphasis on newspaper. For purposes of this study, the research will focus on four Nigerian newspapers deliberately chosen: The Vanguard, The Sun, The Punch and The Nation.

The newspaper representations that will be studied are those written in English language in Nigeria in 2015. The justification for their selection was based on the fact that they have a national spread. The news items, the headlines and the sub-headlines will be used for analysis. The data would produce results that would be used for generalization of issues raised in the research questions.

1 Research Questions

The following questions are addressed in this study:

1. What are the prominent lexico-grammatical components employed by the print media in their news reports/communication?

2. What are the lexico-grammatical components that are common to the print media?

3. What are the major lexico-grammatical features employed by the print media in the headlines?

4 In what ways do the print media use lexico-grammatical features as source or attribution in the news reporting?

5 What are the lexico-grammatical features that enhance and promote the print media?





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