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1.1 Background of the Study

Language is an important tool in the entire existence of man, because it aids communication. Whatever form of communication man chooses to use language is central and it could be gestures, signs, symbols, written or spoken, it is all language. Language is considered as a vehicle of thought, a system of expression that mediate as transfer of thought from one person to another. An adage says “to be human is to use language, and to talk is to be a person”.

A language is a system of conventional vocal signs by means of which human beings communicate. Bloch and Trager see language as “a system of arbitrary vocal symbols and means which a social group operates” (5).

The scientific study of language is known as linguistics. Language/linguistics is studied at different levels, this levels are referred to as levels of linguistic analysis; morphology, phonology, syntax, semantics, psycholinguistics, applied linguistics, pragmatics and discourse analysis.

Phonology is the description of the systems and patterns of speech sounds in a language, it is the study of the way sounds functions in languages, including phonemes, syllables structure, stress, accent, intonation, and which sounds are distinctive units within a language.

Morphology is a study of the internal structures of words, the forms and structures of words. The elements that constitutes morphology are morphemes, there is the bound and free morphemes free morpheme also is divided into lexical and functional morphemes, while the bound morpheme is divided into the derivational and inflectional morphemes.

Syntax is a set of rules that govern how words are combined to form phrases and sentences. Syntax studies the structure of phrases, sentences and language. It helps learners to understand the surface and deep structure of language structures.

Semantics simply implies the study of how meaning in language is produced or created. Semantics encompasses how words, phrases and sentences come together to make meaning in language. The term semantics simply means the study of meanings, there is the philosophical semantics and linguistic semantics among other varieties of semantics.

Pragmatics is the study of meaning in relation to speech situations. The speech situation enables the speaker use language to achieve a particular effect on the mind of the hearer, pragmatics is simply the meaning which the speaker or writer intends to communicate.

Discourse analysis examines language as an instrument of communication among human beings who must on a daily basis interact through the medium of language by talking to one another. Discourse analysis studies language above the clause level, it is concerned with language use in social context.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Since this project is to analyze the discourse features in the play “Chips in the Game” by Aule Moses, it sets out to answer the following questions:

-        How is the playwright’s choice of words?

-        What are the discourse features found in the play?

-        How do they contribute to the understanding of the play?

1.3 Aim and Objectives

-To help readers understand the playwright’s choice of words

-To identify the discourse features employed by the author in the play

-To note how this discourse features help readers in the understanding of the play.

1.4 Scope/Delimitation

The scope of this project is on discourse feature analysis, and some selected discourse features will be used for the analysis, though there are many features that have been given by different scholars. It is delimited to the discourse features employed in Aule Moses’ “Chips in the Game”. The analysis will be done within the play only.

1.5 Significance of the Study

This project sets out to explain the importance of Discourse Analysis as a branch of linguistics, especially to Language students. It will explain some features of Discourse Analysis and how speakers or writers use them during conversations/ dialogue. When this project is completed it would help students understand the importance/relevance of discourse feature analysis. It would also be of benefit to students who would want to research on related topics.

1.6 Environment of the Play

The village of Kainji has three clans, the Muringa clan and the Kalabati clan which are the majority clan, with the Ukunde clan as the minority clan. The people of Kainji are on the verge of choosing a king after the demise if their king, King Yadseram who is from the Muringa clan and had died only nine months into his reign. The conflict arises when the Muringa clan refuses to let the Kalabati candidate take over the throne, with the excuse that their late king did not live long on the throne, and that they will pick another candidate to complete the late king’s tenure. For this, the two selected from the two clans Gaminde of the Muringa clan and Escravo of the Kalabati clan had to stand before the people of Kainji and their worth and why either of them should be made king. They both took turns in addressing the people, but when there was no consensus among the people as who will be king, the Kingmakers of the Regent decided to choose a king themselves that would rule over the people, and their choice is in favour of Escravo of Kalabati, and the town crier announced it to the villagers. But Gaminde was not willing to let it go, he met with his clansmen, Pai, Wase, Faro, Galma, Moshi, and they planned to cause destruction and chaos among the people of Kainji using religious leaders, using money to bribe them, believing that since the people of Kainji are very religious people, they will concur with whatever the religious leaders say, their plan was to cause chaos on the day of the inauguration of the new king. To keep his family from hurt, Gaminde decides to send them away to safety, Galma and Moshi also does same to his family. During the inaugural celebration, Gaminde and his loyalists caused a serious fight in which lives and properties were lost. The Regent who was very disappointed called them and showered his anger and unhappiness about what happens, blaming both Gaminde and Escravo for their irresponsibility which has caused division in the village. They both refused to take blames, Gaminde claimed that the people were fighting for their rights and Sheri the leader of the Ukunde clan the minority clan, seeks that since Escravo and Gaminde has failed that his people will not mind tasting from the ‘honeycomb’ of power. While they were still on this, two men came in with Moshi on cuffs and arrested Gaminde.

1.7 Themes

Pursuit of power- this can be considered as the major theme in the play, because the whole conflict in the play came about because of the selfish thirst and hunger for power displayed by Gaminde and Escravo. This is a typical example of a political situation, where politicians can do anything including putting their lives and that of others on the line for the sake politics. Gaminde was used to expose the zealot that is in every politician, their cunning tactics to get what they want, including bringing the influence religious leaders into political affairs. And also the chaos politicians cause when they lost, is also reflected when Gaminde and his loyalists causes a fight that led to the death and lose of lives and properties.

Ingenuity in religious leaders- some religious leaders sometimes seem to forget their place in the society and allow greed take control of their minds, this was depicted in the play when Gaminde offered the religious leader money to use his influence as a leader on his followers and convince them to fight with him against Escravo.

Negligence of the minority- the minority groups are normally not considered or noticed at all when decision making is taking place, the minority always tap from the majority and most times never get assets they claim to be theirs, the only time they are considered is when they are needed to vote. This is also exposed in the play, in the case of the Ukunde minority clan, they were not considered at all when choosing the new king of Kainji, even with the chaos caused during the inaugural ceremony they were not even considered as a second choice.

1.8 About the Author

Aule, Moses was born in Sabon Gari Zaria. He is Tiv by ethnic designation from Udei, Guma Local Government Area of Benue State. He obtained his NCE in English Double Major from the Kaduna State College of Education, Gidan Waya, and also studied English in Kaduna State University. He is currently teaching English and Literature -in-English at Government Secondary School, Rafin Guza, Kawo, Kaduna.

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