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1.0            Background of the study

The most basic and most valuable possession of man is language. Language is important in the society as man need it to communicate his ideas and experience. As culture influences the structure and function of a group, so also does the language influence the individual interpretation of reality. So, cultural identity can be established through the use of language, and a society is based on the language people speak. With language,man has the capacity for dealing with changes in the environment to organize his society and face other emergencies of life. It is often argued that for any nation to make progress, science and technology must be well of the means of achieving this is through the language in which the concepts are expressed. (Amos and Kezi, cited in issues in language and linguistics, 42)

Interestingly, the constant language processing which man engages in through many activities such as responding to interview questions, listening to news, reading newspapers, watching films and so on are carried out easily and unconsciously because of the unawareness of the mechanism and operations relevant and understanding of language. Language can therefore be said to be a means of communicating with other people irrespective of age, sex, background etc.

Thomas believes that, one of the ways of thinking about language is a “systematic way of combining smaller units into larger units for the purpose of communication” (5). Abercrombie defines language functionally as “a system of conventional signal use for communication by a whole community” (16). According to sapir, “language is purely human, non-instinctive method of communicating ideas, emotions and desires by means of voluntarily produced symbol” (8). similarly, yule sees language “as a primary method of communication among human” (174).

Chomsky defines language as a means of “generative grammar”. A finite set of rules enables users to make an unlimited number of expression (13). According to Bloomfield, “language is the simplest and most fundamental tool of social activities. It is the basic tool that is used by man in his day to day activity” (6).Halliday defines language as “the institution whereby human beings communicate and interact with each other by means of habitually used oral-auditory symbols”(158).

Pragmatics is a branch of linguistics that studies the meaning of language as used in real world. It looks at the general cognitive principle involved in retrieval of information from an uttered sequence of words. Generally, pragmatics studies language from the point of view of the users. This is so, most especially, of the choice that users encounter in using language in social interaction and the effects such use have on the other participants.

According to prasad “pragmatic studies the way in which language is used to express what somebody really means in particularsituation, especially when the actual words used may appear to mean something different” (151). Fromkin, Rodman and Hyams are of the view that pragmatic is “concerned with the interpretation of linguistic meaning in context”. According to them, two kinds of context are relevant. The first is linguistic context-the discourse that precedes the phrase or sentence to be interpreted. The second is the situational context or knowledge of the world. The situational context includes the speaker, the hearer and the third-partypresent, along with their beliefs about what the others believe. It includes the physical environment, the subject of conversation, the time of the day and so on (105). Meyer says pragmatics is “a level of language interpretation that explores the role that context plays in the interpretation of what we say”(106).

Yule describes pragmatics “as the study of intended speaker meaning “. It is the study of invisible meaning that could be derived only in related to the context of utterance. It can be concluded from the varying definitions above that pragmatics as a sub-discipline of linguistics focuses on the contextual interpretation of language, that is, how the linguistic, physical, social and situation contexts influence meaning. Pragmatic meaning consists of both the knowledge of the linguistic forms and what the speakers actually mean in the different communicative contexts. Pragmatics examine the relationship between what the speaker says, what they mean and the effect of the language on the hearers.

1.2       Statement of the problem

This project focuses on the language used on news headline on Herdsmen and farmers clashes in Nigeria using pragmatic as a theoretical framework.

There are several works that have been done on pragmatic analysis on news headlines like ojo Ayodasanmi (2016). There is however no work that has been carried out on a pragmatics analysis of news headline on Herdsmen and farmer’s clashes in Nigeria.

It has therefore become imperative to explore the use of language by the print media from a pragmatic angle so as to bring fore hidden or implied meaning embedded in linguistic resources deployed to pass across such messages.

1.3       Aim and objectives

The aim of the study is to do a pragmatic Analysis of News Headlines on Herdsmen and farmer’s clashes in Nigeria. The specific objectives of the study are:

1.     To examine the pragmatic act performed by News headlines on Herdsmen and farmers clashes in Nigeria.

2.     To identify the functional significance of the different act performed by News headlines on Herdsmen and farmers clashes in Nigeria.

1.4       Research Questions

The study set out to answer the following questions:

1.     What are the pragmatic act performed by News headlines on Herdsmen and farmers clashes in Nigeria?

2.     What is the functional significance of the different act performed by News headlines on Herdsmen and farmers clashes in Nigeria?

1.5       Significance of the study

This research work provides an avenue to understand the language use to report the clashes between Herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria; highlighting the fact that there are salient messages communicated in each news headlines. It also, enhances researches in linguistic field, especially pragmatics; serving as a reference point for other researchers in the field.

This study will also enhance a better understanding in the analysis of linguistic features of discourse. It will provide better understanding for readers in analysing language use based on the linguistic features.

Hopefully, this research will inspire other researchers to conduct similar researches in a wider scope in different subject.

1.6       Scope and Delimitation

The study will be dealing mainly with news headline. The research is focused on the language use to report the clashes between the Herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria. The research focus will be on Daily Trust, The Nations and Sun Newspaper.

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