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Christian handbills are one of the leading non-verbal means of communication in the society today especially the church handbills and posters. Technically put, posters are very important forms of visual communication. It presents picture(s) with meanings lying behind it. However, there exist some graphosyntactic errors, lexical, syntactic features and semantic features used in Christian handbills. The problem of grapho-syntactic errors contravene syntactic and graphological norms of the language and are not recognized as such by most people. The errors are gradually and unfortunately becoming standard forms of usage for most Nigerians. Ten (10) Christian handbills selected from ten (10) different churches were collected between January and May, 2016. The non-randomized method was used as the sampling technique while the research procedure employed analysis of linguistic aspects and features such as; graphological function, lexical, pragmatic tools, syntactic and semantic tools. Results obtained from this study revealed that Christian handbills play significant roles in effective communication. Hence, the findings from this study have become an instrument for achieving background knowledge in language of information as contained in Christian handbills.
1.1 Background of the Study
Communication as a means transmission of ideas, thoughts or feelings is in two major categories-the verbal and non verbal communications. It is the purposeful activity of information exchange between two or more participants in order to convey or receive the intended meanings through a shared system of signs and semiotic rules. The most common one used for interaction in human societies is the non verbal such as; handbills, posters and bill boards (Barnlund, 2008). Language is a sort of code system, a carrier of information which is capable of transmitting intended meaning whatsoever. It also reveals man’s socio-cultural beliefs and thoughts. The importance of language is for easy communication, expression and enlightenment. The traditional linguists believe that language has an intended meaning and that the recipient has only to understand that meaning by interpreting it to make communication work. In that case, the above information given about language means that we can deduce different meanings from the same language used in different contexts (Burke, 1999).
Kempson, (2003) states that “if you have not developed language, you simply don’t have access to most of human experiences, and if you don’t have access to experience, then you are not going to be able to think. That is, language is very important and cannot be removed from a community or else, the community is officially dead. The reason for success in a community is being able to communicate intelligibly because it is difficult to function without language. Through language, several acts are performed and there are possibilities that the writer of a handbill can cajole people to come to his church by putting up an upcoming event. This is where sociolinguistic analysis comes in; the writer of a handbill has used some linguistic elements in the construction of those handbills and posters (Levinson, 1983).
Discourse analysis refers to the linguistic analysis of naturally occurring connected speech or written discourse. Roughly speaking, it refers to attempts to study the organization of language above the sentence or above the clause, and therefore to study larger linguistic units, such as; conversational exchanges or written texts. It follows that discourse analysis is also concerned with language use in social contexts, and in particular with interaction or dialogue between speakers. Discourse analysis is a hybrid field of enquiry. Its "lender disciplines" are to be found within various corners of the human and social sciences, with complex historical affiliations and a lot of cross-fertilization taking place.
Christian handbills are one of the leading non-verbal means of communication in the society today especially the church handbills and posters. Technically put, posters are very important forms of visual communication. It presents picture(s) with meanings lying behind it (Afolayan, 2011). Christian handbills are an efficient tool to influence the public opinion because they can reach wide and specific audiences (children, women, men and youths), and they are accessible to people who are otherwise isolated by illiteracy or poverty. They can also give written information in areas where there are few illiterates. This enables one to emphasize main messages and to give educational information (Schaap and Steenbergen, 2001). Hence, it is worth to note that underlying every handbill is language as they are very important forms of visual communication that persuades target audience to attend various church programmes and activities.
Christian handbills are used by so many people; they are used by music industries, beauty pageantries, schools, Muslims, Christians etc. Christians are people who believe in the Almighty God and worship him in the church and at some other places. They are headed by pastors, deacons, elders, priests, bishops, reverend fathers, etc. We have different kinds of churches in Ughelli; they include; Catholics, Anglicans, Pentecostals, etc. and each of these want people/Christians to worship in their churches. In order to achieve this aim, they do things like evangelism, crusades, praise nights, sharing of handbills etc. telling them about upcoming event/events or about their church services.
Most of these handbills contain the names of their churches, host pastors, venue, time, themes, and other sentences to encourage them to come, some of these sentences include testimonies, words of encouragement etc. the main in general is to invite people to their churches in order to fellowship with them. Hence, this study seek to examine the discourse analysis of Christian handbills in Ughelli and its environment
1.2 Statement of the Problem
In every street of our urban and rural towns in Nigeria, there is one form of church or the other. In the case of church adverts, specifically, the main purpose is usually to get people to attend a programme in which the preacher, through persuasive strategies, influence on the audience’s belief, to modify or change it or to make him act in a certain way. Hence, church adverts on handbills, posters, and billboards are linguistically and most times, semiotically meant to invite people by creating suspense, making the readers to see lacks or needs in their lives and the church programmes as means of solving the perceived lacks and needs.
However, there exist some graphosyntactic errors, lexical, syntactic features and semantic features used in Christian handbills. The problem grapho-syntactic errors contravene syntactic and graphological norms of the language and are not recognized as such by most people. The errors are gradually and unfortunately becoming standard forms of usage for most Nigerians. Therefore, this present work will take a deep look at the discourse of Christian handbills (i.e. word captions, pictures, and headlines etc).
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of this study is to examine the discourse of Christian handbills using Ughelli in Delta State as a focal point. While, the specific objectives include;
i. identifying the different graphosyntactic errors in the language used in Christian handbills;
ii. identifying the various syntactic features used in Christian handbills in Ughelli;
iii. doing a discourse analysis of possible semantic implications of Christian handbills in Ughelli.
1.4 Research Questions
For this study, the following research questions are formulated and answered;
i. what are the different graphosyntactic errors in the language used in Christian handbills?
ii. what are the various syntactic features used in Christian handbills in Ughelli?
iii. what are the possible semantic implications of Christian handbills in Ughelli?
1.5 Significant of the Study
This study is designed to be functional both theoretically and practically. Theoretically, this research is expected to be useful in expanding linguistic knowledge on conversational discourse analysis of Christian handbills with regards to gap in knowledge on discourse analysis conducted by previous literatures/researchers on such as; VanDijk, (1993); Sawyer (2002); Fairclough (2001) among others particularly on analysis concerned with language use in social contexts and in particular with interaction or dialogue between speakers. The study gives stimulus or another view to the area untouched in the same topic especially with reference to Christian handbills.
Practically; the researcher shows some of the graphosyntactic error, lexical, syntactic features and semantic implications used in Christian handbills. In addition, the researcher gets more knowledge in understanding the various sociolinguistic analysis especially in cooperative principles. The result of this study can add the readers’ comprehension of Christian handbills.
The study adopts qualitative research method which is a type of scientific research which is especially effective in obtaining culturally specific information about the values, opinions, behaviors, and social contexts of particular populations. In order to be able to conduct this research, the major data for this study will be gathered from Ten (10) Christian handbills collected from some churches in Ughelli. These data are randomly selected and is subjected to discourse analysis.
1.7 Scope of the Study
This study covered a discourse analysis of Christian handbills as used in adverts. Basically, there are so many handbills in the world today, but the researcher has limited this study to some of the handbills in Ughelli, Delta State and also the researcher has narrowed it down Ten (10) Christian handbills only. It is the belief of the researcher that what obtains in this state may be generalisable to the other parts of the country. The language in which the communication in Christian handbills are used and which will be explored in this thesis is the English language.
1.8 Limitations of the Study
It appears that not much extensive work has been done yet in this area of research in Nigeria; that is why reference materials and literature relevant to this area are scarce. Also, getting the necessary information from the public and churches proved difficult despite the fact that handbills are usually accessible. In addition, the time available for the research was very limited. Finance is also another major limiting factor.
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