SOCIOLINGUISTIC PROFILING OF THE USE OF ABUSIVE LANGUAGE IN NIGERIA A PRINT MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

SOCIOLINGUISTIC PROFILING OF THE USE OF ABUSIVE LANGUAGE IN NIGERIA A PRINT MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

ABSTRACT

This study investigates the sociolinguistic profiling of the use of abusive language in Nigeria. Its primary focus is on the print media perspective.  The main objective for embarking on this study is to explore the level of prominence in the use of abusive language in four different national daily newspapers namely: The Nation, Daily Sun, Daily Trust and Guardian Newspapers. The research design used in this study is content analysis. The population of the study consists of all online newspaper readers which is estimated at 864,000.  This population was distributed among the selected newspapers in percentages and frequencies of readers. The theories used are ethnography of speaking ( Hymes 1972) and politeness theory known as Face Threatening Act’s of  Brown and Levinson (1987). The method of data collection is primary source data collection based on issues sampled in online newspapers. The comments of some online readers of the newspapers mentioned above were gathered, and later grouped according to how related they were to the contexts, which are: corruption and insecurity in Nigeria. From the content analysis of the online readers’ comments, this study reveals that when most individuals are confronted by unfavorable and unpleasant situations, they resort to abusive language as an escape or reprisal routes. It is also observed that every utterance carries with it the potential positive or negative threat to the speaker’s /hearer’s face.  Based on these findings, this study recommends that the  media should  be used as tools for educating readers on better ways of approaching issues of public interests and that it is  better  to make use of constructive criticisms aimed at correcting wrongs, rather than words that aim at destroying others’ reputation.