The Language of Military Parades in Nigeria: A Linguistic Analysis

Complete project


Title page i
Certification ii
Dedication iii
Acknowledgement iv
Table of Contents vi
1.1 Purpose of Study 1
1.2 Scope of Study 1
1.3 Methodology 2
1.4 Review of Related Scholarship 3
1.5 Thesis Statement 8
2.1 Syntactic Patterns 9
2.2 Sentence Structure 10
2.2.1 Clause Structure 12
2.2.2 Phrase Structure 14
2.3 Ellipsis 21
3.0 Introduction 24
3.1 Morphological Processes 25
3.2 Affixation Processes 25
3.3 Clipping Patterns 26
3.4 Semantic Extension 27
3.5 Coinages 29
4.1 Segmental Features 30
4.2 Stress Patterns 32
4.3 Intonation 33
4.4 Elision 36
Works Cited
Appendix: A Transcript of the Primary Text and its Translation


This work aims to ascertain the following:
(i) Whether the meanings of words and expressions in military parade language in Nigeria have similarities with everyday usage of the English language.
The syntactic, lexico-semantic and the phonological properties of military parade language in Nigeria.

This research bothers on the socio-linguistics aspect of the language found in the Nigerian Army Military parade. Socio-linguistics, according to Chambers, is “the study of the relationships between language and society with the goal of understanding thee structure of language” (11).
The analysis of data is done using an available video compact disc (VCD) on the Nigerian Army Military parade and from interviews carried out with military personnel and also from the internet. The parade lasted for one hour forty minutes in the (VCD). This language is equivalent to other branches of the military which comprises the Air Force, and the Navy.
It will be restricted only to the language used during the Army parade which is an aspect of the military. It limits itself to the analysis of the structures of the language examining the different utterances used during the parade, thereby laying bare its differences alongside standard English.
This research work will base its analysis on the approach propounded by Quirk Randolph and Greenbaum Sidney, in their book A University Grammar of English in analyzing the structure of the Army parade language. This is done in a way to bring out the peculiar structures found in the language and to establish the fact that parade language is a distinct register.

As stated earlier, the aspect of the military to be worked on is “the army parade language”. The parade information was obtained from a Video Compact Disc (VCD) on the parade. It was made available to me by a military officer in Benin City, Nigeria. In this analysis, which is based on a verbatim transcription and translation, three general aspects or branches will be used viz syntactic, lexico-semantic and the phonological aspects.
At the syntactic level, the text will be analyzed from the aspect or point of view of the sentence types, structural patterns as well as a look at the elliptical sentences. While at the lexico-semantic level, analysis from the aspect of morphological processes will be made.
Furthermore, phonologically, the sound patterns, including stress patterns, intonation and elision would be analyzed identifying the differences that exist.
This analysis would showcase the peculiarities that exist in the Army parade language that differentiates it from the Standard English language.

The language of the military parade is largely the same in all the various aspects of the military. The language or terminology is rooted in the need of military organizations to have a uniform understanding, using English as its medium of communication. Every discipline has developed for its usage the variety with distinct features and characteristics. One is assumed to have gone against norms if one fails to use his variety appropriately.
A look at the previous studies on the language of the military parade will reveal that the military has been researched on lately. However, a research carried out by Megbulem (1991) on a similar topic stresses that the military parade language which is a variety of the English language comprises the parade language, signal language, the service writing, operational and non-operational writings as well as other varieties used in different sections of the military. However, he falls short of recognizing the existence of other languages like pidgin and indigenous languages both of which are integral part of military language in Nigeria.
Another similar research is by Alabi (1999) on the language of the military parade, an appraisal of a speech situation of Man O’ War parade rehearsal, as a socio-linguistic domain. He examined the social constraint on the language in a specific speech domain as well as highlighting the effects of the social variables as role relation, participants, contexts (of speech and situation) and most importantly the field of discourse (i.e. military domain) which invariably subsumes the speech context of parade rehearsal in relation to the recurrent linguistic deviations, creations and choices which characterize a military setting as a socio-linguistic domain.
A similar research is done by Obimma (2010) where he conducted a linguistic study of the language of the military parade in order to bring out its linguistic significance to the study of linguistics. He goes about realizing this through the application of speech act as his theoretical framework. He analyzes their utterances into the various acts which are the locutionary, illocutionary and perlocutionary acts.
This goes to establish the fact that the language of military parades is an area that research has been carried out on. The military language is specialized and used by all the various members in communication. There might be slight differences that exist among them because of the different operations and activities carried out by them. It has at least three characteristics that are revealed through linguistic analysis. Dauber says that: “The characteristics are it tends to be sanitized form of language, it emphasizes the expertise of those who use it and it contains a specific notion of hierarchy by its users” (97).
The military which comprise the Army, the Navy and the Air Force use the slang, parlance and jargon which differentiates their language from other groups and organizations. This goes to legalize the appropriateness of the language of military parade .
Jargon which the language of military parade comes under is defined by A.S. Hornby as “words or expressions that are used by a particular profession or group of people, and are difficult for others to understand” (639). According to Chambers, “jargons are terminologies of a profession”(11). This indicates that they are known and understood by people within the profession.
Thomson defines jargon as:
A derogatory word which denotes the technical, semi-technical or pseudo technical language used by a profession which those outside the group do not understand. It is the language or mode of communication known and understood by only members of that profession’’ (67-68).
Jargon which is the name given to the language used internally by military personnel is also defined by Hartman and stock as: “a set of terms or expressions used by a social and occupational group but not used and often not understood by the speech community as a whole”.
The military language also uses slang which is defined by Watson and Hill as a: “colloquial language whose words and usages are not generally acceptable within formal modes of expression” (267). Slang is unique to or originates with the armed forces. It often takes the form of abbreviations or acronyms or derivations of the Nato phonetic Alphabet or otherwise incorporates aspects of formal military concepts and terms. This is often used to reinforce or reflect (usually friendly and humorous terms).
This slang is used by participant soldiers and officers both within and outside the parade ground. Military parade, a terminology that comes from the old tradition of formation combat, in which, soldiers were held in very strict formations as to maximize their combat effectiveness. Formation combat was seen as an alternative to melee combat, which required strict soldiers discipline and competent commanders. Modern armies still use parades for ceremonial purposes or in non-combat environments for their efficiency, ease of organization and encouragement of discipline.
The distinctiveness of the language of military parade is what Firth called “register” which according to him: “is serving a circumscribed field of experience or action and having its own grammar and dictionary” (qtd. in Ghodessy, 28).
This goes to establish the appropriateness of the parade language in this situation in that it is a language that has all the various characteristics outlined by Firth. The language is borne out of the fact that it operates a different form not only for communication but also for defense and warfare.
The language employs not only linguistic items but also utilizes para-language which comes under the signal language in the military used during military parade as part of their communication. This mixture of linguistic and para-language utters the meanings of the words used during the parade making understanding vague to outsiders.
The justification for this study stems from the fact that the military is an area dreaded by people. The vagueness of the language of military parade captivated my interest in studying or carrying out a research work to aid the understanding of the language by the “bloody civilians”, as they are called by military personnel. This goes to bring out the uniqueness of the language.
It is against this background that this study on the language of military parade in Nigeria is carried out creating awareness to the general public and of course, to add to the numerous works done in language varieties. Also, it will serve as a light to this area of study and a reference point to future researchers who would want to carry out further research on this area of language usage. It will serve as an eye-opener to the society in appreciating the language of military parade as a register and also as a language of specialized use.

The language of military parade in Nigeria reflects differences in relation to the social situation of the participants through syntactic, lexico-semantic and phonological patterns of the language which make it a variety of the English language.

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