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Keywords:A SYSTEMIC ANALYSIS OF EDITORIALS IN SELECTED NIGERIAN NESWPAPERS
This study investigated the language used in the editorials which serve as the founder for decoding the different functions in which editorials are put to use. It focuses on editorial selected from the Guardian newspaper from the month of October to November 2010. The selected tools in systemic grammar employed for the analysis are the Mood system, the Theme system and the Transitivity system.
Editorials, therefore, becomes a bridge between the people and the government. It shows that the language of Editorials are certain and straight forward. Also, the language of Editorials may not be necessarily objective, it is also reader-centered and realized facts. Editorials also to employ language as means
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER ONE GENERAL INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background of the study
1.2 Statement of the research problem
1.3 Purpose of the study
1.4 Scope of the study
1.6 Research methodology
1.7 Data description
CHAPTER TWO LITERATURE REVIEW
2.2 Development of functional systemic linguistics
2.3 Systemic grammar
2.4 Description of systemic linguistic
2.5 Grammatical categories
126.96.36.199 Mood system
188.8.131.52 Theme system
2.7 Summary of the chapter
CHAPTER THREE DATA ANALYSIS
3.2 Datum one: The school enrolment Crisis in the South East
3.3 Datum two: The flood in Lagos and Ogun State
3.4 Datum Three: Team Nigeria at the Common Wealth Games
3.5 Datum Four: Privatizing NITEL: Fifth Time Lucky?
3.6 Datum Five: The Super Falcons’ Victory in South Africa
3.7 DATA DISCUSSIONS
3.8 SUMMARY OF THE CHAPTER
CHAPTER FOUR SUMMARY, FINDINGS AND CONCLUSION
1.1 BACKGROUD TO THE STUDY
Whatever the sphere of discourse the role of language in describing and explaining texts, spoken or written, cannot be under-estimated. Varieties in language use based on factors such as occupation, geographical setting, idiosyncrasy and many more, further explain the relevance of language to human activity.
One field where language is very important is the field of mass communication. The media, which is usually understood to mean the press, employs language to achieve its different aims both in the print and the electronic media. The language of the media has been the focus of different researchers (employing different theoretical method) which gave rise to different terminologies like “current-day media language” or “the modern media discourse” (Aitchison and Lewis 2003, p.1)
Systemic linguistics, as a theory of language, provides an avenue to determine how language is used and how language functions in different contexts. This, as explained by Christie and Unsworthy (2000, p.1) helps “to illustrate how linguistics can contribute to ‘applied’ language research… and also respond to questions about language in applied contexts, a way to describe language in terms of choices of meaning (p.2).
Systemic theory is also known as the scale and category of grammar (Olujide 2007, p.53). This view then serves as the basis of analysis for some analysts. Alabi (1997, p.61) for instance, takes the theoretical path of scale and category with her focus being: “For a rigorous structural analysis in stylistic study…. as networks of interlayer systems”. Though approach of this type covers the major aspect of systemic grammar, it is deficient in not taking into consideration the meta-functions of language as identified by the profounder of systemic grammar. M.A.K Halliday.
Osisanwo (1999) recognizes systemic grammar based on the “scale and category” dichotomy. He not withstanding notes that systemic grammar “has however developed beyond the level of the scale and category of grammar to a generative non-transformation and grammar that operates at surface and deep plane” (p.16). This therefore corrected the restriction imposed by using the term “scale and category” which is restricted to the surface structure leaving out the deep structure.
As noted by Christies and Unsworth (200, p.11), systemic linguistics is a theory “that proposed that the object 0of language study should be a whole text (p.12). The test can be in a spoken mode as the analysis done by Halliday and Mathiessen (2004) and also in the written mode, Osisanwo exemplifies his discussions of systemic grammar by carrying out an analysis of textual works such as T.M. Aluko’s “One man One wife”, Kofi Awoonor’s “This earth my Brother” and Chinua Achebe’s “Arrow of God”.
The above mention researchers have basically focused on literary texts and verbal utterances leaving out texts in the media domain. The editorial, which forms an important aspect of the print media, will be an important text to investigate. Thornborrow (1999, p.51) for instance, has taken an overview of language use in the media with the aim of examining “how our knowledge about the world is mediated through the press …. This work will therefore restrict it self to a very important aspect of the newspaper, which is the editorial section, as against taking a general view of the media like that of Thornborrow.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE RESEARCH PROBLEM
Previous researchers have identified different forms in which linguistic choices can be analysed with specific aims to achieve. Notwithstanding, none focused on a key section of the print media which is the editorial section. There is then the need to examine this focal section with the main aim of identifying how language functions in the editorials. The next section identifies the purpose meant to be achieved through the work.
1.3 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
As it can be deduced from the statement of the research problem, one will see that the major focus of the research work is to examine how language functions in the media. Apart from this, the following serves as the aims the study seeks to achieve. An examination of the language use in the editorials will then serve as the foundation for decoding the different functions in which editorials are used.
1.4 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study will be dealing mainly with newspapers and not the broadcasting media (television and radio). The focus will be editorials selected from the Guardian newspaper from the month of October to December 2010. The selected tools in systemic grammar employed for the analysis are the mood system, the theme system and the transitivity system. This then means that the unit class and structure elements will not be employed for the analysis.
Basic socio-political, economic, and religious issues of local and international concern form the basis of the media (Aliagan, 2005, pp.56-9). The media, which exist as electronics and the print media, thus serves as the avenue for generating information as “there is no denying the fundamental curiosity in man to know something about himself, his environment, and the people who inhabit the world he lives in” (Medubi, 2007, p.105).
Newspaper, being a key medium of communication, is a “cultural instrument which serves to promote or influence attitudes, motivates, fosters the spread of behavior patterns in order to bring about social integration” (Aliagan, p.48). An important section which reflects these propositions in newspapers is the editorial. Storall (2005, p.71) states that the editorial page… is the soul of the news paper”.
There is the need to explain the different ways in which the media employs language and hitherto affect the perception of the audience. One way of achieving this is therefore through an examination of the section which reflects the newspaper’s view about a particular phenomenon which is the editorial section. This research work thus provides an avenue to examine the editorial section in relation to the use of language through the systemic linguistic theory.
The research work will therefore be useful to up and coming researchers in the field of systemic functional linguistics and also the field of mass communication. The usefulness will be in terms of exposing possible research areas (in terms of problems or gaps) for the purpose of knowledge expansion. It will likewise be of importance to media practitioners especially those in the editorial section that is in regard to guiding writers on how language is used and the importance of acknowledging contextual issues in their writings which will altogether impact on the readers in terms of understanding.
1.6 RESEARCHER METHODOLOGY
This study is an analytical one on selected editorials. The Guardian newspaper is selected as the source of the editorial. This is due to the wide audience the newspaper controls in Nigeria as the newspaper is one of the major newspaper organizations in the country.
The particular data are chosen from the month of October to November 2010. This is to draw out a factual conclusion as the editorial will cover different periods with possible different issues. Due to time limit, the work further streamlines the corpus in a frame of 1 to 10 where the figure 7 is selected for the analysis. This thus gives us: 7, 17 and 27 as dates of the editorial selected within the month coverage earlier stated. The number of the selected editorial thus amount to six in number.
The entire texts were broken into main sentences or clauses (in case of compound sentences) and each sentence is observed based on the transitive pattern, its thematic structure and mood structure.
1.7 DATA DESCRIPTION
Medubi (2007, p.116) notes that “the editorial represents the official opinion of newspaper on an issue”. This therefore means that the editorial is the stance taken by a media organization. Aliagan (2005, p .79) puts it in terms of “the voice of the newspaper or magazine or the opinion of the newspaper or magazine, or the news medium on any given issues”. One can then deduce from these that the editorial is a ‘comment’ about a pressing issue in the society.
The editorial is identified by different names depending on news medium. The names include comment, opinion or view among others. The placement of the editorials also depends on the organization. While some prefer the front page, many always dedicate a distinct space inside the newspaper for the editorial section. The Guardian, for instance, has its editorial section in an inside page.
The diverse functions of the editorial have made some to distinguish among “interpretative”, “controversial” and “Explanatory” editorial, Aliagan(2005, p .79). What all these go to show is that the editorial section is an important section of the press. This explains why Storall (2005, p.11) states that most people see the news segment as the most important in a news print but “the editorial page … is its soul”.
Keywords: A SYSTEMIC ANALYSIS OF EDITORIALS IN SELECTED NIGERIAN NESWPAPERS
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