This study investigates the features of Discourse in the interaction Among Market Women in Oba market, Benin with their customers. Language is made up essentially of written and spoken modes. There are formats and methods of analysis attached to each of the modes.
The written language has a long history of analysis while the spoken form has only recently gained attention in Linguistic analysis. Our interest in carrying out this research is to further the development of the analysis of the spoken language. In this introductory chapter, some key concepts, sub – themes and terminologies used in the study will be presented.
1.1 Background to the Study
Many linguists describe language as the most important attribute of man. Allenton (18) in his own view defines language as;
—–the fully developed natural human communication involved in transmitting ideas or information from person to person.
He sees language as a tool for information transfer.
Thomas and Wareing (6-9) in their book Language, Society and Power, postulate that one of the obvious ways of thinking about language is that;
It is a systematic way of combining smaller units into larger units for
the purpose of communication, for instance, we combine the sound segments of our language (Phoneme) to form words(Lexical items) According to the rules of language we speak.
Language is essentially a rule-governed system of this kind, but there are other ways of thinking about how language works. James Caper as cited in Obi- Okoye
(2) considered language as:
A system of communicating with one another using sounds, symbols and words in expressing meaning, ideas or thoughts.
Thus language can be used in many forms primarily through oral and written communications. Equally body language could be used to communicate thoughts and feelings.
In this work, we are interested in such questions as: What function does a given utterance do? Is it a statement, question, command or response and how do the participants know
Although, there were some linguists who saw language as a series of interrelate levels mediating, and showing relationships between context and phonetic
substance as seen by Halliday etal quoted in Sinclair and Coulthard’s work titled; Towards an Analysis of Discourse page one. It attempts to show how a given phonetic realization has a grammatical structure and meaning but there is a major difference in the concept. Firth in Sinclair and Coulthard suggests
The principal components of —- Meaning is phonetic function, which I call ‘minor’ function, the major functions-lexical, morphological, syntactical—And the function of a complete location in the context of situation, The province of semantic (1-2)
Firth had observed that in conversation, we shall find the key to a better understanding of what language really is, and how it works.
Our interests were in the function of utterances and the structure of discourse. Sinclair (2) suggested examining real examples with all their performance features. He focused on questions and answers and suggested that only by examining the context in which an utterance is produced, the presuppositions behind the utterance, the intention of the speaker and respondent, and the evidence available to a decoder, can one really understand the meaning of an utterance.
This early work also stressed paragraphing in spoken discourse. Conversations are everyday examples of the fact that several participants can jointly produce
coherent texts; utterances and parts of utterances relate back and forwards, place certain restriction on what can occur and affect how or succeeding items are interpreted. Sinclair (3) went on to examine the relationship between the grammatical structures of an utterance its function in discourse. Question, for instance, can have a declarative, interrogative, imperative, or modeless structure. There are often features in the situation such as relative status of participants, which will determine which form is most appropriate form will be interpreted as cheekiness, condescension, sarcasm and so on.
1.2 Language: multiple functions
Another important dimension of language is the very different purposes we use language for all the time. In the course of a day, one uses language referentially, effectively, aesthetically, and phatically. However, the transmission of information is certainly not the only reason why we use language, and there are many Linguistic choices we make every day which are not a consequence of
information transmission at all for example, you could make use of the utterances
(a) to (e) below and convey the same factorial information. By selecting one as appropriate and not another, you will be exploiting the effective aspect of language and showing yourself to be sensitive to the power or social relationship between you and the person you are addressing.
Arrange the books in the shelf.
❷ Please arrange the books in the shelf
❷ I wonder if you’d mind arranging the books in the shelf.
❷ If you wouldn’t mind artfully, do you think you might arrange the books in the shelf?
❷ For goodness: sake just arrange the …ing the books in the shelf on the other hand, as you arrange the books, you might say utterance (f]or[g)
❷ Books in bundle like mountain layers—-
❷ Red rolls, pattern pattern. In this case you wouldn’t be trying to give any one information either. You would be exploiting the ability of language to give us pleasure by its sounds and rhythms and by playing with meaning: Its aesthetic properties.
If later in the day someone comes around and says ‘thanks’ both of you would have been exploiting the phatic properties of language. This is the everyday usage of language as social lubrication, no important information is being exchanged, but you are both indicating that you are willing to talk to one another, are pleased to see one another. The referential function is the use of language to indicate name objects and ideas are called and how events are described (i.e. how we represent the world around us and the affects of those representation on the way we think).the effective function of language is concerned with who is allowed to say what to whom, which is deeply tied up with power and social status, for example, saying, “I think it’s time you swept the kitchen and washed your hair’ would be accepted comment from a parent to a young child, but not usually be accepted from an employee to their boss. Nigeria being made up of multi-ethnic groups use the English language in almost all spheres of life, in communication, education, government, law court, polities, and media. In fact, English serves as a second language in Nigeria. As GreenBaum(1) observes, English is used in many official contexts in Nigeria in commerce and industry, administration and international communication so the status of English in Nigeria demands its adoption for various uses to achieve different purposes through the use of the language. This forms this basis of this research work which primarily is discourse which means language in use. Life is a constant flow of discourse – of language functioning in one of the many contexts that together make up a culture. In fact it is difficult to conceive of effective functioning in any human society without interactional talk. It is this kind of talk that is often referred as discourse. Discourse analysis means placing language in the situation it should be in order to get the message or meaning.
1.3 Purpose of the study.
Based on Sinclair and Coulthard’s method of analysis, this work is intended to investigate the features of discourse in the interaction among market woman. First by seeking to find out the following:
1. The effective use of language in business transaction.
- The functional use of language both verbal and non-verbal language to achieve transactional goals.
- Various methods and techniques employed by market women to ensure sales.
Common features of language used in business transaction most peculiar to market woman.
- Lastly, the researcher looks into market exchanges, social relationships that take place during the business transactions and sales are made possible through these exchanges.
1.4 Statement of the problem.
- The approach proposed by Sinclair and Coulthard suggested examining real examples with all their performance features. He focused on questions and answers and suggested that only by examining the context in which an utterance is produced, the presupposition of the speaker and respondent and the evidence available to a decoder, can one really understand the meaning of an utterance.
- Interactional talk has its primary functions-the lubrication of the social wheels, establishing roles and relationships with another person prior to transactional talk, confirming and consolidating relationships, expressing solidarity, and so on (McCarthy 136).in the market situation for instance, sellers and buyers establish social relationship before normal business transaction. Transactional talk is for getting business done in the world i.e. in order to produce some change in the situation that pertains.
1.5 Significance of the study.
Discourse analysts describe and analyze how language is structured in different contexts of use. This work enables language practitioners to precisely delineate in syllabuses and materials the different genres of language which learners will need to engage in, and select and use in other facets of English language. Educationists, lecturers of English as a second language and readers that might come across this research report would use to demonstrate how meaning is decoded from discourse, as well as how specific and over all function of language is performed by different utterances in discourse. The study will also demonstrate how the specific functions of discourse are realized in a particular socio-cultural context.
1.6 Research Questions.
The following research questions will guide the study.
- How is meaning decoded from discourse?
What specific and overall functions do different utterances in the discourse perform?
- What function does discourse perform in a particular social cultural context?
- Is there really any language behaviour peculiar to market women in carrying out their business transaction?
- What are really those discourse features adopted by Sinclair and Coulthard in the analysis of a natural language?
1.7 Basic Assumptions
Language is the bedrock behind every successful business transaction.
To achieve transactional goals there must be market interactions which facilitate sales.
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