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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

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Dissertation Information

Title: The Linguistic and Pictorial Representation of Nigerian Women's Assertiveness in Selected Nigerian Newspapers Add Dissertation
Author: Iyabode Daniel Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of Ibadan, PhD in Linguistics
Completed in: 2008
Linguistic Subfield(s): Sociolinguistics; Syntax;
Director(s): Mufutau Lamidi

Abstract: A major thesis of gender conflict in Nigeria is the oppression of the
female by the male, but the discursive involvement of women in the question
of their disempowerment has not received adequate scholarly attention. This
study consequently investigated the assertiveness content of Nigerian
women's linguistic and pictorial self-representation in Nigerian
newspapers. It specifically assessed the women's empowerment level over a
decade after the 1995 Beijing Conference. At the conference, the mass media
was accused of habitually misrepresenting women, linguistically and
pictorially, to perpetuate the perceived oppressive patriarchal order.

Van Dijk's Critical Discourse Analysis was used to broadly interrogate
women's power location in Nigerian newspapers. The data, which were women's
particular linguistic and pictorial self-expressions, were collected from
seven purposively selected Nigerian national newspapers: New Nigerian,
Nigerian Tribune, The Comet, The Guardian, The Punch, ThisDay and The Sun,
covering 2005-2006. The theta theory of Chomsky's
Transformational-generative Grammar (TGG) was used to assess the women's
central cognition in the articles' titles, while Halliday's Systemic
Functional Grammar was utilised to interrogate the transitivity, modality
and theme-rheme structure of the sentences within the texts. The TGG's
lexico-semantic groupings of women's columns were also employed to
ascertain their present preoccupations, while Barthes' semiotics of images
was used to assess women's postural self-representations in newspaper
pictures they voluntarily submitted. Percentage scores and qualitative
discussions were used for data analysis.

The women appeared linguistically and pictorially self-assertive, while
their underlying cognition seemingly indicated consent to patriarchal
hegemony. With 65.4% agentive roles, women were most frequently 'agent',
while the qualitative interrogation of the sentences suggested that their
agency was superficial. The 78.0% occurrence of transitive clauses depicted
high frequency of assertiveness in women's verbal choices, but the
qualitative analysis revealed their verbs as apparently conciliatory. The
25.3% high incidence of obligatory modals in relation to women showed
qualitatively that the women were seemingly induced to act in particular
ways rather than voluntarily. Women were frequently 'themes' in 73.1% of
the clauses, but the qualitative investigation showed that this position
did not guarantee their always being in charge. Generally, their verbal
choices in sentences depicted women, vacillating between empowerment and
disempowerment, consistently using self-effacing modal verbs, for instance:
had to, couldn't say, would have loved to; and intransitive verbs such as
suffering and feel (guilty). The women's columns on issues that had general
social concerns totalled 39.8%, compared to 60.2% on fashion and
relationships, indicating a slight shift from their previous almost
exclusive preoccupation with fashion and relationships. The pictorial
analysis manifested women with sexually suggestive self-projection in
angular postures and clothing choices, which subsume the cognition of the
sexually enticing female.

Women are key contributors to their continued non-empowerment through
negative linguistic and pictorial self-representations that suggested their
acceptance of the patriarchal 'status quo'. The Beijing Conference on women
empowerment is yet to significantly impact the current linguistic and
pictorial self-representations of Nigerian women in selected newspapers.
Women's verbal and pictorial choices in media discourse should therefore
become more positively self-assertive to project true empowerment.