A pragmatic study of newspaper comic strips: an example of “efe and jude”

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A pragmatic study of newspaper comic strips: an example of “efe and jude”



Communication is an important aspect of human life. Man has been known to communicate with himself, his environment and his fellow being from time immemorial. Language is the means of communication through which man communicates and its development has made human communication powerful and relevant to human existence. Babatunde (2009, p100), asserts that communication is the chief purpose of language and the ability to use language for meaningful and purposeful interaction by man is one great edge man has over every other living thing.

Lehman (1976, p4), sees language as a system for the communication of meaning through sounds. Through language, we generate meaning and information which can be exchanged between interlocutors to generate communication because without communication, there will hardly be survival in the society. Language is an art that is made up of an arbitrary code in which intra and inter personal communication takes place.

However, human’s thoughts and perceptions are passed as a message to the receiver who will store, process and change it into meanings. Language is important in decoding meaning and the aspect of linguistics that specializes in this act of meaning decoding is pragmatics. Yule (1996, p127) defines pragmatics as “the invisible meaning or how meaning is recognized even when it is not said or written”. He further explained that for invisible meaning to be recognized, speakers must be able to depend on a lot of shared assumptions and expectations.

Comics are any piece of entertainment that is funny. Therefore comic strips according to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (2000, p222) are “series of drawings inside boxes (panels) that tell a story and are often printed in newspapers”. It has been discovered that many readers of comic strips widely known as cartoons read it because of its funny nature without having a deeper understanding of the non-literal aspect of the utterances.

Hence, the researcher will do a pragmatic examination of the drawings and utterances by using the elements of pragmatics to analyze the special ways in which language has been used to entertain and pass across message(s) to the people or readers since pragmatics according to Levinson (1983, p6) is “the study of those relations between language and context that is grammaticalized or encoded in the structure of a language”.


The purpose of this study was to examine and reveal what is not said by the participants in “Efe and Jude” and to examine the use of language of this comic strip. This study was aimed at using the pragmatic elements to examine the special ways in which language has been used in “Efe and Jude” so that at the end of this study people will not just read the comic strip for entertainment alone but have a fuller and deeper knowledge of what the comic strip is trying to convey.


This study was embarked upon because no study of this nature to our knowledge has focused specifically on the pragmatic study of ‘Efe and Jude’ in The Punch newspaper. The study was aimed at making the members of the public understand utterance meaning and to make them know that utterances always mean more than what is said.

The value attached to this work was based on the families that are confronted with the issue of the reversal of roles where the man is acting as the wife and the woman acting as the husband.  newspaper comic This work will also be of interest to sociologists who are studying human society. newspaper comic


We limited our analysis in this study to the aspect of linguistics that specializes in the act of decoding meaning which is pragmatics using cartoons as our data. newspaper comic There are different kinds of cartoons but this study based its analysis on a comic strip.  newspaper comic This study intended to take a look at the pragmatic study of ‘Efe and Jude’ in The Punch newspaper selected from the months of January 2010 to July 2010. newspaper comic

The analysis of this comic strip selected from The Punch newspaper was done by using some pragmatic tools. newspaper comic These tools include participants, context, presupposition, inference, implicature, speech act, mutual contextual beliefs and intention. newspaper comic


Due to the size of the target population, the researcher made use of random sampling technique. The comic strip, Efe and Jude were selected from The Punch newspaper from January to July, 2010. The comic strip does not appear regularly during the week but appears thrice a week or approximately four times on Saturdays. Therefore, twenty cartoons were selected to represent the entire population.



A cartoon according to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary is “an amusing drawing in a newspaper or magazine, especially one about politics or events in the news”. Longman Active Study Dictionary defines cartoon as “a funny drawing or set of drawings in a newspaper or magazine”.

We can therefore conclude from the above definitions of cartoons that it is an imitation of what happens in our society. Kunzle (2007, p1) identified various types of cartoons but the most relevant to this study is comic strip which is used to entertain the public on the things that are happening in the society.


Efe, who is the speaker in most of the scenes of the comic strip, is depicted as a huge woman who comes from the eastern part of Nigeria because of her name. She is married to Jude but instead of the normal husband and wife relationship, there is a sort of reversal in their roles in the home.

Efe always acts as the husband while the husband acts as the wife. Even though she is the wife, she provides every need of the family; she provides the money for food, transport fares and every other essential needs of the house.

The comic strip focuses on what is happening in the society with a view of proffering solutions to the problem of the reversal of roles in homes so that it will not be a constant occurrence which could be a threat to the society.

It is believed in the society that a husband must always be the head of a family but in the case of ‘Efe and Jude, the reverse is the case. This makes the cartoonist use ‘Efe and Jude’ to make readers aware of what is going on in the some families. It is also used to satirize women who behave like Efe in the society.


In this chapter, we have attempted to define all our variables. We stated the aim of the study, the reason why we have embarked on the work, the limitation of the work, the methods that would be used in this study and a brief description of our data. Having done these, we will now move to the next chapter to review our related literatures.


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