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Original Author(Copyright Owner): MUHAMMED-BADAR SALIHU JIBRIN

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Download the complete English language project topic and material (chapter 1-5) titled A SYSTEMIC TEXT LINGUISTIC STUDY OF SELECTED NIGERIAN NOVELS here on PROJECTS.ng. See below for the abstract, table of contents, list of figures, list of tables, list of appendices, list of abbreviations and chapter one. Click the DOWNLOAD NOW button to get the complete project work instantly.

 

PROJECT TOPIC AND MATERIAL ON A SYSTEMIC TEXT LINGUISTIC STUDY OF SELECTED NIGERIAN NOVELS

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  • Name: A SYSTEMIC TEXT LINGUISTIC STUDY OF SELECTED NIGERIAN NOVELS
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ABSTRACT

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.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Title of Dissertation – – – – – – – i
Declaration – – – – – – – – – ii
Certification – – – – – – – – iii
Dedication – – – – – – – – – iv
Acknowledgements – – – – – – – v
Abstract – – – – – – – – – vii
Table of contents – – – – – – – – viii

Chapter One: Introduction
1.0 Introduction – – – – – – – – 1
1.1 Background of the Study – – – – – – 1
1.2 Statement of the Problem – – – – – – 5
1.3 Research Questions – – – – – – – 8
1.4 Aim and Objective – – – – – – – 9
1.5 Justification of the Study – – – – – – 9
1.6 Scope and Delimitation of the Study – – – – 11
1.7 Significance of the Study – – – – – – 12

Chapter Two: Literature Review and Theoretical Framework
2.0 Introduction – – – – – – – – 14
2.1 Style and Stylistics – – – – – – – 14
2.2 Schools of Thought in Stylistics – – – – – 22
2.2.1 Structural School – – – – – – – 22
2.2.2 Generative Stylistics – – – – – – 26
2.2.3 Processing Stylistics – – – – – – – 30
2.2.4 Systemic Stylistics – – – – – – – 31
2.2.5 The Text as the Major Concern of Systemic Text Linguistics 37
2.2.6 Cohesion as a Semantic Relation – – – – 40
2.3 Approaches to Stylistic Analysis – – – – – 41
2.3.1 Style as Choice – – – – – – – 41
2.3.2 Computational or Statistical Stylistics – – – – 43
2.4 Text Linguistics – – – – – – – 48
2.4.1 Approaches to Text Linguistics – – – – – 53
2.4.2 Systemic Text Linguistics – – – – – 55
2.4.3 Choice of Theoretical Framework – – – – 55
2.5 The English Language in Nigeria – – – – – 56
2.6 The Language of Nigerian Literature in English – – 58
2.7 Conclusion – – – – – – – – 72

Chapter Three: Methodology
3.0 Introduction – – – – – – – – 73
3.1 Research Design – – – – – – – 73
3.1.1 Projection – – – – – – – – 74
3.1.2 Procedure – – – – – – – – 74
3.2 Analytical Procedure – – – – – – – 75
3.2.1 Primitive Level – – – – – – – 77
3.2.2 Second Order Level – – – – – – 78
3.2.3 Prime Order Level – – – – – – – 79
3.3 Selection of Texts – – – – – – – 82

Chapter Four: Data Presentation and Analysis
4.0 Introduction – – – – – – – – 84
4.1 Text One: Our Children Are Coming – – – – 84
4.1.1 Primitive Level – – – – – – – – 84
4.1.2 The Message of the Novel – – – – – – 84
4.1.3 Second Order Level – – – – – – 96
4.1.4 Dialogue – – – – – – – – 100
4.1.5 Actions – – – – – – – – 108
4.1.6 Prime Order Level – – – – – – – 112
4.2.0 Text Two: The Contract – – – – – – 127
4.2.1 Primitive Level – – – – – – – 127
4.2.2 The Message of the Novel – – – – – – 127
4.2.3 Second Order Level – – – – – – 138
4.2.4 Prime Order Level – – – – – – – 156
4.3 Text Three: Witnesses to Tears – – – – – 168
4.3.1 Primitive Level – – – – – – – 168
4.3.2 The Message of the Novel – – – – – 168
4.3.3 Second Order Level – – – – – – 181
4.3.4 Prime Order Level – – – – – – – 193
4.4 Conclusion – – – – – – – – 206

Chapter Five: Summary and Conclusion
5.0 Introduction – – – – – – – – 208
5.1 Summary – – – – – – – – 208
5.2 Conclusion – – – – – – – – 215
Bibliography – – – – – – – – 218

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). Chinua Achebe is one of the ardent advocates of the second position who has the following celebrated remarks (Achebe 1977): The African writer should aim to use English in a way that brings out his message best without altering the language to the extent that its value as a medium of international exchange will be lost. He should aim at fashioning out an
English which is at once universal and able to carry his peculiar experience. This view is neither peculiar to Achebe nor to even Nigerians. Raja Rao – an Indian Philosopher–novelist shares this pragmatic approach and stylistic sensitivity with Achebe, who in 1938 presented a credo, where he commented on a number of issues ranging from the dilemma of bilingual creative writers in English, the acculturation of the English language and its institutionalization, to stylistic trans-creation and relationship of culture and discourse (Kachru 1988a). Rao has the following to say on this: The telling has not been easy. One has to convey in a language that is not one’s own the spirit that is one’s own. One has to convey the various shades and omission of a certain thought – movement that looks maltreated in an
alien language to us. It is the language of one intellectual make-up. We are all instructively bilingual, many of us writing in our own language and in English. Three decades later, he adds the following, also as in Kachru (1988a)
We cannot write like the English. We should not. We can write only as Indians. We have grown to look at the large
world as part of us. Our method of expression therefore has to be a dialect which will someday prove to be
distinctive and colorful as the Irish or the American. Time alone will justify this. A careful study of the views of Achebe and Rao in the above excerpts will reveal that the two writers, among others who express opinions on creativity in English by
African writers, provide a vision for what Kachru (1992, 1994) terms “world Englishes”, such a vision recognizes local identities in style, in culture and in peculiar linguistic experimentation and even commendation. Achebe uses a passage from Arrow of God to illustrate this kind of English thus: The world is changing. I do not like it. But I am like a bird Eneketaoba, when his friends asked him why he was
always on the wing, he replied, “men of today have learnt to shoot without missing, so I have learnt to fly without perching.” I want one of my sons to join these people and be my eyes there… the world is like a mask dancing. If you want to see it well you do not stand at one place. My spirit tells me that those who do not befriend the white men today will be saying had we known tomorrow. The discourse above is in English, but shows a lot of Igbo thought processing images, and symbols that make the text identify with its setting. This is the kind of speech that befits the character in question given his native background. Achebe goes ahead to give a standard equivalent of this as follows: I am sending you as my representative among these people just to be on the safe side in case the new religion develops. One has to move with the times or else one is left behind. I have a hunch that those who fail to come to terms with the white men may well regret their lack of foresight. These two excerpts have the same material. The only difference is that, the former “… is meant to represent the kind of local speech patterning expected of the character in question,” while the latter is a “falsification of the local experience Achebe wants to describe as it strives to meet the international standard of literary norm” (Jibrin 2005:78). Hence, the latter is in the author narrator’s voice, while the first is not. This means that variation exists at two different levels in the text. It is this vision that led to an explosion of interest in “World Englishes” or what Gnutzman (1999:157) refers to as “Global English.” Global English refers to the uses of English worldwide. Crystal (1997) remarks that when a language develops a special role, which is recognized in every country, that language has genuinely achieved a global status. This, no doubt, is the status of English in the world today. From the foregoing, the enormity of the linguistic task of Nigerian writers of fiction can be seen. Their task transcends mastering the language. It as well involves being able to adapt the language to their environment in order that they can express their peculiar experiences in it. In other words, the user of the ‘global’ or world English should enjoy the freedom of shaping English to reflect his cultural experiences. This does not amount to liberalization of correct usage, nor does it encourage incompetence in English use (Igboanusi 2002:19). It is rather aimed at bringing newness into the
linguistic world (Link 1991:128).

1.2 Statement of the Problem
Given the complex sociolinguistic situation of Nigeria, the English language hasplayed and has been playing a lot of roles that most Nigerian languages cannot play. Using Hansfort, A. et al (1976), Jibril (1986) and Bamgbose (1991)’s estimations there
are more than four hundred indigenous languages, in addition to the exo-normative languages – English, French and Arabic (even though Arabic can as well be classified among indigenous languages because of its native speakers in some parts of Nigeria).
This makes inter-ethnic relation very difficult without a lingua franca and this has helped the position of English in Nigeria. Just the same way that Nigerians have exploited the use of English for inter-ethnic relations, a situation that would have been impossible if a language such as English were not available, they have as well exploited the language in fiction. How ever one is not unaware of the fact that a cross section of Nigerians feels that the amalgamation of the Southern and the Northern protectorates in 1914 was the worst thing that has ever happened to the people in the identifiable area known today as Nigeria, (see Osundare1995). It was like bringing together too giant opposites which has led to lack of unity, hence the sermonic ‘unity in diversity’ that has been preached across the country. The fact that English is the language bequeathed to Nigerians by these same people (the colonialists) further exacerbated the matter. In spite of the resultant negative feelings and attitudes to English in Nigeria, we cannot deny that English has played some roles. The fact is that we can not be so beclouded by the negative aspect of the language to the level that we will not appreciate the good sides of it. This, Achebe (1977) explains thus: Those of us who inherited the English Language may not be in the position to appreciate the value of the inheritance. Or we may go on resenting it because it came as part of a package deal which included many other items of doubtful value and the positive atrocity of racial arrogance and prejudice which may yet set the world on fire. But let us
not in rejecting the evil throw out the good with it. In spite of divergent attitudes towards English, it is a truism that it has played some roles in Nigeria which can be viewed both positively and negatively depending on the viewer’s disposition to it. What is important today is to do what Banjo (1996) terms ‘making a virtue of necessity’. This is the same thing that is happening as far as the use of English in Nigerian fiction is concerned. While it is agreeable that there is frustration often associated with learning English for use at home and in using another person’s language to express details of 0ne’s native experience and world view, it does not totally amount to uncreativity and sterility as believed by Wali (1963). A good mastery of it and ability to manipulate it in indigenous creativity constitute another level of linguistic description, which brings newness and elegance into the language, especially in this age of computer where national boundaries are being eroded using Information and Communications Technology. Although, in the past few decades linguists especially those of the
Transformational Generative school have given more emphasis to linguistic universals with detriments to the hitherto integrity accorded each language by structural linguistics (see Chomsky 1957 & 1965, Greenberg (1963) each culture and the language in which that culture is expressed constitute an autonomous entity (Oyeleye 1995:364). This implies that every human culture has its own peculiar way of looking at the world and so it is reflected in its literature. The literary writer in a second language situation creates
his language from multiple linguistic backgrounds. Obiechina in Ogu (1986:89) comments on the introduction of the novel into
Nigeria that whenever there is the introduction of the novel into a region where an oral tradition is an integral part of literary tradition, the language of the novel will be modified by the language of oral tradition. This is the exact situation in Nigeria. Writers such as
Achebe, Amadi and Soyinka have variously subjected English to a lot of adaptation so as to be able to carry the experience of its new milieu. Along this line, metaphors, idioms, proverbs and many more are incorporated into dialogues and narrations. In spite of this excellent performance and international acclaim achieved by these writers in the use of English in fiction, much has been said about the language problem of Nigerian writers (see Oyeleye 1995, Osundare 1995). In addition, there are writers in Nigeria such as Aluko and Tutuola, among others, who have not been able to get the former group’s enablement to manipulate the language to be able to do exactly what they want the language to do for them (see Ogu 1986 and Osundare 1995). This is partly because English does not have the ready equivalents of the local experience that they may wish to express owing to cultural variation, and wholly because of their inability to
master English as to be able to turn it around to say what they want it to say for them. Even when they are able to master the English language to the level that they can translate their native experiences into it effectively and efficiently, the devices used by an individual writer in his translation differs significantly from those used by other writers.However, there are extra linguistic features that contribute to the meaning of the text. These pose a problem of interpretation. To handle them effectively one needs to be familiar with the semiotic universe of the text. Against the background of the above facts, the researcher has chosen to do a linguistic study of selected Nigerian novels using the framework of the Systemic Linguistic Theory. This choice is based on the belief that a linguistic framework can,
according to Traugott and Pratt (1980:20)  contribute a great deal to our understanding of a text. It can help us become aware of why is it that we experience what we do when we read a literary work, and it can help us talk about it, by providing us with a vocabulary and
methodology through which we can show how our experience of a work is in part, derived from its verbal
structure. This does not only enable the reader to be more conscious of and to appreciate the ways in which meanings are generated in texts, it as well makes writers more conscious of the profitability of the employment of linguistic elegance which in turn contributes to
an “artistic dispensation” (Loratim-Uba 2001:37). The novels selected for this study are Abubakar Gimba’s Witnesses to Tears Chukwuemeka Ike’s Our Children Are Coming and Festus Iyayi’s The Contract

1.3 Research Questions
Against the background of the above research objectives, the following are research questions for investigation:
a) What are the varied ways in which the fictional prose writers selected for this study have used English?
b) To what extent do the linguistic choices of these writers succeed in their intended semantic functions?
c) To what extent is the systemic text linguistic approach to the study of these texts a departure from other stylistic approaches?
d) How do the features of the creative English of these selected writers contribute to the development of the concept of “Global English”

1.4 Aim and Objectives of the Study
The aim of this research is to do an in-depth study of the variations of language as used by these various Nigerian novelists selected for study, using the framework of systemic text linguistics. To this end, the specific objectives of the study are:
a) to investigate the divergent ways in which the writers selected for this study have creatively used English to perform the functional role of communication in a non-native environment;
b) to show the extent to which their various choices succeed in the supposed semantic function;
c) to show how the Systemic text linguistic approach is a departure from other stylistic approaches;
d) to show how the features of these ‘Englishes’ contribute to the development of the concept of Global English (in Nigeria).

1.5 Justification of the Study
Stylistic investigation is a fascinating investigation that has been viewed in many ways. Generally, it is conceptualized by many as the linguistic study of literary texts. Others look at it as a way in which language is used, which is not peculiar to a literary
terrain. Just as various perspectives of style exist, there are many definitions of style as discussed above. This investigation is based on the philosophy and conviction that the smallest detail of language can unlock the soul of a literary work (Spitzer 1948). To this end Leech and Short (1981:4) believe that explaining how meaning or certain effect is achieved will not just make one understand better how meaning is achieved, but will also make one gain greater appreciation of what the writer has created. The writers that are studied in this research are those Nigerian writers of fiction whose works have not enjoyed much of this kind of discussion and who the researcher feels deserve being studied. As newness is created in the area of linguistic usage in view of the dynamic nature of languages, the researcher feels that writers such as Chukwuemeka Ike, Abubakar Gimba and Festus Iyayi should be chosen for this study. This is why works of increasingly popular writers such as Achebe, Soyinka and Amadi, etc, (the first generation writers) were not chosen for investigation, believing that every Nigerian author has one way or another something to contribute to “the inner realities of the social processes at work” in our nation (Irele in Oguzie 2004:10). Therefore, the researcher feels that every author deserves to be given critical attention – linguistically or
literarily. The fact is that too much attention has already been given to the first generation of fictional writers in Nigeria to the level that other writers are given rarity of attention when it comes to serious critical consideration. This is far from being satisfactory. This research is an effort made to contribute to the need to give some attention to other writers in Nigeria even though we cannot discuss in this work all those Nigerian fictional writers who do not belong to the first generation of writers. The analytical approach used in this research is that of Systemic Text linguistics which is geared towards the functionality of choices made amongst other potential ones to achieve semantic goals in society. A text each was selected from works of the three authors mentioned above. This is to enable us to see how intra-semiotic variations determine the kind of meaning projected by each of these texts. In as much as the researcher would like to examine the
works of other writers in this category, it is impracticable to try to study all of them. It will in addition, amount to being too ambitious to try to study all the novels produced by these three selected authors. Hence, the researcher decided to select a text each from the
generality of these writers’ novels. These writers are chosen based on their prolificacy and profundity of contribution to the Nigerian fictional/literary world. Their works deserve this kind of investigation so as to bring out their messages in proper perspectives.
The texts were selected based on a close comparison with other works of the same authors and are found more suitable to the researcher’s interest and purpose in this study. Language does not exist in a vacuum. The selection that language users make
from the multiplicity of their linguistic repertoire is a function of the sense they want to make based on what they want to do with it. This is why the researcher has chosen this approach, as the texts for study are created by writers who are non-native users of English
and have written about non-native English societies. These works as mentioned above are expected to show some variations in language based on peculiarities of each writer’s performance and experience as well as variation in semiotic situations. This research is meant to contribute to the existing data on the language of Nigerian writers of fiction. It will as well make us gain greater appreciation of these
selected works, by giving newer insights to the interpretation of the selected works or works that may be investigated by future researchers. Above all it will contribute to the existing discussion on English around the world or what Gnutzman (1999: op cit) refers
to as ‘global English.’

1.6 Scope and Delimitation of the Study
This research is carried out using three different Nigerian novels by three different novelists, all drawn from the shores of Nigeria. This is expected to give a balance interpretation based on a number of variations in language. Every writer has his peculiar style based on his idiosyncrasy and the situation of use. In spite of this, the authors are contemporaneous. This is done with the feeling that their generation has a role to play in the kind of experience that is expressed. In this, we will be able to see how their cultures and experiences have influenced their linguistic performances based on situationality. It is, however, to be noticed that the study is only interested in the roles language plays in the interpretation of the texts selected for examination, with recognition of semiotic variation between the language and its new environment. The interpretation is based on Halliday’s Systemic Text linguistic approach. The study is a text linguistic one and
should not be adjudged as that of literary criticism. It uses purely a functional linguistic approach and not any other one. This work is based on the systemic linguistic theory. The theory follows the European functional tradition based on Firth’s system structure theory which owes a lot to the Prague school. The organizing concept is that of ‘system’ which is used in Firth’s sense of a functional Paradigm. This was developed into a formal construct of a ‘system network’ by Halliday M.A.K., which he says is a theory about language as a resource for meaning making (language as a social semiotic (Halliday 1994:19, 1976) etc. This is a
situation where by each system in the functional network represents a choice: not a conscious decision ‘made in real time but a set of possible alternatives, like statement/question’ or ‘singular/plural’ or falling/level/rising tones’. These, Halliday says, may be semantic, lexico-grammatical or phonological. This is discussed in detail in the second chapter.

1.7 Significance of the Study
The findings of this research will be of significance in the following ways: the systemic text linguistic analysis of the selected novels will contribute to effective interpretation of these novels especially in the area of the use of stereo types to project meaning, among others, by writers. This will in turn promote a better understanding of the texts, especially as it affects the message each projects. The study will as well add to the evidence in existence on the role of context in the determination of meaning as well as promoting the consciousness of text’s meaning in relation to fiction. Above all, it adds to the existing literature on the language of Nigerian literature in English. All this is based on the belief that the smallest linguistic detail on a text can unlock its soul (Spitzer 1948).

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