“Are you saying …?”: Metapragmatic comments in Nigerian quasi-judicial public hearings

Foluke Olayinka Unuabonah

Abstract

This study explores metapragmatic comments in Nigerian quasi-judicial public hearings, involving interactions between complainants, defendants and a hearing panel, with a view to investigating their forms, features, distribution and functions. The data are analysed quantitatively and qualitatively from a discourse-pragmatic framework that incorporates Verschueren’s theory of metapragmatics, Mey’s pragmatic act theory, Grice’s Cooperative Principle and conversation analysis. Four types of metapragmatic comments are used: speech act descriptions, talk regulation comments, maxim adherence/violation related comments and metalinguistic comments. Their distribution and functioning are shown to be partly predictable from properties of the speech event, while they also co-determine the nature and development of the analysed hearings.

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