Mohammed Ayodeji Ademilokun


This article examines modal resources in the mediatised discourse of social transformation  in Nigeria with a view to showing how they are strategically used to code interpersonal meanings for enhanced and impactful delivery of messages of social transformation in the nation. Data for the study comprises texts on aspects of social transformation campaigns in Nigeria in the context of democracy, anti-corruption crusade, insecurity and domestic violence compiled as small corpora. The data comprises texts produced by government and non-governmental actors consisting of speeches, radio commentaries, jingles, printed texts, interviews, tweets and online newspaper comments and covers the period from March 2013 to March 2018. The five-year span was informed by the wide gamut of negative realities in the nation during the time frame which led to increased mediatisation of social transformation messages. Corpus-assisted critical discourse approach was employed for data analysis, using Fairclough’s (1989, revised 2015) dialectical relational approach, the corpus linguistic tool of Antconc, chi-square test on R-Studio and normalised relative frequencies. Data analysis revealed that the different participants in the discourse characteristically used different modal resources to reflect their power on the one hand and resistance on the other and to capture the intensity of their views and feelings on the actions required for Nigeria to experience genuine social transformation. The study concludes that even though the discourse is largely ideational, modal resources are deployed for emphasising the urgency and seriousness of the issues in the ideational contents of the discourse.


corpus linguistics; critical discourse analysis; modality; Nigeria; social transformation campaigns

Full Text:


Show references Hide references

Adedimeji, M. (2005) ‘The unifying role of English in a multilingual nation: The case of Nigeria.’ In: Ndimele, O. (ed.) Language and Culture in Nigeria. Abia: National Institute for Nigerian Languages. 67-74.

Ademilokun, M. (2019) ‘Discursive strategies in select mediatised social transformation advocacy in Nigeria.’ Discourse, Context and Media 28, 44-51. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dcm.2018.09.002

Ajiwe, U., Okwuosa, S. and Chukwu-Okoronkwo, S. (2015) ‘Nigerian videofilms as effective tool for social transformation: A critical appraisal of Fola Toro.’ American Journal of Social Science Research 1(2), 57-62.

Agang, S. (2014) ‘Nigerian Pentecostal/charismatic theology of public engagement.’ Erudite Journal of Social Science Research 2(1), 1-14.

Akanbi, S. and Beyers, J. (2017) ‘The church as a catalyst for transformation in the society.’ Theological Studies 73(4), 1-8. https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v73i4.4635

Baker, P., Gabrielatos, C., Khosravinik, M., Krzyzanowski, M., McEnery, T. and Wodak, R. (2008) ‘A useful methodological synergy? Combining critical discourse analysis and corpus linguistics to examine discourses of refugees and asylum seekers in the UK press.’ Discourse & Society 19(3), 273-306. https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926508088962

Biber, D. (1993) ‘Representativeness in corpus design.’ Literary and Linguistic Computing 8(4), 243-257. https://doi.org/10.1093/llc/8.4.243

Biber, D., Johansson,S., Leech, G., Conrad, S. and Finegan, E. (1999) Longman Grammar of Written and Spoken English. Edinburgh: Pearson Education Limited.

Boicu, R. (2007) ‘Modal verbs and politeness strategies in political discourse.’ Munich Personal RePEc Archive, 1-17.

Bonyadi, A. (2012) ‘Linguistic manifestations of modality in newspaper editorials.’ International Journal of Linguistics 3(1), 1-13. https://doi.org/10.5296/ijl.v3i1.799

Burgess, R. (2013) ‘Nigerian Pentecostalism and civic engagement: Mission in the midst of poverty and violence.’ TCNN Research Bulletin 58, 9-42.

Downing, A. and Locke, P. (1992) A University Course in English Grammar. Hemel Hempstead: Phonix ELT.

Fakuade, G. (2015) Language and national transformation: The case of English in Nigeria. Paper Presented at the 31st Annual Conference of the Nigeria English Studies Association (NESA) on English Language, Literature and National Transformation at The Federal University Lokoja, Kogi State, Nigeria, October 26-29.

Fairclough, N. (1989) Language and Power. London: Arnold.

Fairclough, N. (2003) Analysing Discourse: Textual Analysis for Social Research. London: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203697078

Fairclough, N. (2015) Language and Power. New York: Routledge.

Halliday, M. A. K. (1985) An Introduction to Functional Grammar. London: Edward Arnold.

Halliday, M. A. K. (1994) An Introduction to Functional Grammar. London: Edward Arnold.

Halliday, M. A. K. and Matthiesen, C. (2004) An Introduction to Functional Grammar. London: Arnold.

Huddleston, R. and Pullum, G. (2002) Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316423530

Greenbaum, S. (1996) The Oxford English Grammar. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Gries, S. (2013) Statistics for Linguistics with R. California: Degruyter Mouton. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110307474

Iwamoto, N. (2007) Modality and point of view in media discourse. Retrieved on 20 February 2019 from human.kanagawa-u.ac.jp/gakkai/publ/pdf/no163/16308.pdf

Jordan, R. (1999) Academic Writing Course: Study Skills in English. Essex: Longman.

Kuchler, J. (2015) ‘Usages of may and will in Chinese and German student papers: A corpus-based comparison.’ In: Schmied, J. (ed.) Academic Writing for South Eastern Europe: Practical and Theoretical Pperspectives. Research in English and Applied Linguistics (REAL Studises) 8. 99-118.

Lihua, L. (2009) ‘Discourse construction of social power: Interpersonal rhetoric in the editorials of China Daily.’ Discourse Studies 11(1), 59-78. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461445608098498

Lillian, D. L. (2008) ‘Modality, persuasion and manipulation in Canadian conservative discourse.’ Critical Approaches to Conservative Discourses Across Disciplines 2(1), 1-16.

Milkovich, S. and Sitarica, A. (2017) ‘Epistemic modality in political discourse.’ Social Studies and Humanities 3(1), 75-79.

Nartey, M. and Yamkson, F. (2014) ‘A semantic investigation into the use of modal auxiliary verbs in the manifesto of a Ghanaian political party.’ International Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences 4(3), 21-30.

Ngula, R. S. (2017) ‘Epistemic modal verbs in research articles written by Ghanaian and international scholars: A corpus-based study of three disciplines.’ Brno Studies in English 43(2), 5-27. https://doi.org/10.5817/BSE2017-2-1

Nuyts, J. (2006) ‘Modality: Overview and linguistic issues.’ In: Frawley, W. (ed.) The Expression of Modality. Berlin: Mouton. 1-26.

Nwankwo, B., Ocheni, S. and Atakpa, M. (2012) ‘A review of the military contributions to social transformation in Nigeria, 1966-1996.’ Journal of Arts, Science and Commerce 3(2), 24-32.

Olaniyan, K. and Adeniji, A. (2015) ‘Modality in statement of objectives in arts-based research article abstracts.’ British Journal of English Linguistics 3(1), 42-51.

Opeibi, T. (2015) ‘New media and the transformation of political cultures in Nigeria: Exploring a corpus-based discourse approach.’ In: Opeibi, T., Schmied, J., Omoniyi, T. and Adedeji, K., (eds) Essays on Language in Societal Transformation. Research in English and Applied Linguistics (REAL Studises) 9. Göttingen: Cuvillier. 209-231.

Opeibi, B. (2016) ‘Digital media and civic engagement in Nigeria: A corpus-based discourse study of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s Facebook.’ In: Taiwo, R. and Opeibi, T. (eds) The Discourse of Digital Civic Engagement: Perspectives from the Developing World. New York: Nova Publishers. 1-34.

Oyebamiji, M. (2013) A critical stylistic analysis of selected advocacy campaigns on Nigerian Television Authority. Unpublished M. A. Thesis. Department of English, Ile-Ife: Obafemi Awolowo University.

Palmer, F. R. (2001) Mood and Modality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139167178

Papafragou, A. (2006) ‘Epistemic modality and truth conditions.’ Lingua 116, 1688-1702. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lingua.2005.05.009

Partington, A. (2003) The Linguistics of Political Argument: The Spin-doctor and the Wolf-Pack at the White House. London and New York: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203218259

Raphael, O. J. (2014) ‘Religion, national transformation and the Nigerian society: Some reflections.’ International Journal of Gender and Women’s Studies 2(2), 117-136.

Resta, S. (1998) ‘Words and social change. The impact of power and ideology on the language of Economics and Law.’ ASP 19-22, 89-98. https://doi.org/10.4000/asp.2760

Rui, Z. and Jingxia, L. (2018) ‘The study of interpersonal meanings of modality in micro-blogging news discourse by the case of Donald Trump’s Muslim entry ban.’ Advances in Language and Literary Studies 9(2), 110-118. https://doi.org/10.7575/aiac.alls.v.9n.2p.110

Saale, L. B. (2014) ‘Prayer and social transformation in Nigeria: A Christian perspective.’ African Research Review 8(4), 111-124. https://doi.org/10.4314/afrrev.v8i4.9

Vázquez Orta, I. (2010) ‘A contrastive analysis of the use of modal verbs in the expression of epistemic stance in Business Management research articles in English and Spanish.’ Iberica 19, 77-96.

Verschueren, J. (1999) Understanding Pragmatics. London: Edward Arnold.

Vukovic, M. (2014) ‘Strong epistemic modality in parliamentary discourse.’ Open Linguistics 1, 37-52. https://doi.org/10.2478/opli-2014-0003

Winiharti, M. (2012) ‘The difference between modal verbs in deontic and epistemic modality.’ Humaniora 3(2), 532-539. https://doi.org/10.21512/humaniora.v3i2.3396


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.