A Pragmatic Study Of Some Selected Political Posters

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A Pragmatic Study Of Some Selected Political Posters




The dynamism of language as a powerful tool of communication cannot be over-emphasized. There is countless number of things which we could do or use to achieve. It is therefore, no surprise if language is used to influence decision in various ways (even in the field of politics). Can one really mention any particular field of endeavour that does not involve the use of language?

This bring us to the view about pragmatics; an aspect of language study. Communication in any society happens chiefly by means of language. However, the users of language as social beings communicate and use language in the society’s premises. Mey (2001), in his second publication: Pragmatics: An Introduction has this to say:

…pragmatics as the study of the way human being use their

Language in communication, bases itself on a study of those

Premises and determine how they effect and effectualize human

Language use… (pp6)

With the above aforementioned extracted text, we therefore, take a critical look at pragmatics, its influence on the analysis of political posters. The strength it commands in influencing the needed effect.


The purpose of this research work is to identify the influence of pragmatics elements on encoded texts or utterance; the meaning that is implied and the effect on the addressee. We do this with the use of deployed political posters (statements) in the field of politics. Besides exploiting the features of pragmatics, this study seeks to analyse the thought provoking influence of such political posters; the rules of pragmatics governing the use of language in this aspect.

This study, we hope, prioritize on the need to view utterance as instrumental in influencing necessary developmental changes. We also analyse the feature of context, among other things, as a necessary factor to understanding inherent objectives of most political posters. We intend to carry-out this work in relation to semantics since the synergy will help us in understanding of this research work.


So far it has been discovered from the analysis of previous research that many a researcher, who have carried research works on this particular aspect of pragmatics and its use on political posters have left some unresolved issues which we hope to clarify. Previous or past works on this matter need be advanced with the hope that future researchers would find it worthwhile in making reference to this work as a stepping stone. The manipulation of language as pointed out in the work of Mey (2001, p308) in his publication Pragmatics: An Introduction is an issue that need be corrected. The author seems to view utterance (what he referred to as ‘manipulation’) from the negative aspect. It must be stated that not all manipulation of language are of diabolic intention. Mey (2001) gave limited information which we hope to expand. Conversely, this present work will take a deeper look at the utterance of political posters (i.e. word captions, pictures, and headlines etc), their pragmatic meaning and implication on the hearers.


There are many aspect of pragmatics in different fields, delving into all its parts in entire will be too daunting for this research work. It is, therefore, necessary to limit our research to a more specific unit. Herein, we make use of Leech’s (1983) Principles of Pragmatics as we attempt to define, describe, analyse, explain and subsume the core aspects of pragmatics. This will, in no small way, help our understanding of some selected political posters i.e. applying those pragmatic features on samples of political newspaper headlines, pictures, captions etc entailing how meanings are decoded from them.


The data of choice as used in this research work would be from randomly selected samples of political posters. By this, we mean deploying pragmatic elements, rules ad theories to captions, pictures etc in political aspect. These data material are randomly selected. We analyse them (i.e. the posters), the language and the affect they are trying to draw from the readers or hearers; the information they convey to the readership etc. we examine the level of understanding these political posters.


The data of choice for our analysis focuses on the events building up to the 2011 elections, the presidency state visits, and legal tussle that characterised the previous election held in Nigeria. All these data were imprinted in the pages of newspapers that fall within the year 2010.

Majority of these data, seven of them precisely, were randomly selected from the THE NATION newspaper. Two of them were taken from THE VANGUARD newspaper. A datum was taken from THE SUN newspaper. The imprinted political posters in these daily newspapers were randomly analysed. We apply the pragmatic elements on these data wherever applicable.


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