Article published in:ITL - International Journal of Applied Linguistics
Vol. 125/126 (1999) ► pp. 195–227
A President, Speech Acts and Development in Nigeria
Analysing Consequences of the Gulf between Promise and Fulfilment
The discourse strategies and social implications of speech importantly overlap to govern our relationships in person versus person, group versus group, and person versus group capacities. We apply here Speech Act Theory to communicative interactions with respect to person versus group by discourse - analytically studying the utterances of a nation’s president to his fellow country men and women. Based on the extensions by GRICE (1975), VAN DIJK (1977) and LEECH (1989) of AUSTIN’S (1962) Speech Act Theory, we examine the promise by a Nigerian Military President to return the country to democratic rule and the extent to which he kept his word. The syntactic and semantic frameworks are combined with the pragmatic acts to bring out the strategy of the spoken discourse. Saying, in the view of the theory, is tantamount to doing. Consequently, utterances carry the social responsibility weight, and there is great honour in redeeming the social weight of utterances through commensurate action. Speech acts executed with the consideration of this obligation as well as sincerity of action in mind can lead to development. However, we find that the promise in the Nigerian President’s speech acts to return the country to democracy is not fuiflied. Considering the primacy of the spoken word in the political realm, which can affect development in many ways, this paper strongly recommends that public leaders should bridge the familiar opposition between promise and fulfilment.
Published online: 01 January 1999
Cited by other publications
Rodríguez, Juan Luis
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