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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/123456789/2718

Title: Language Use in Conflict Situations: A Case Study of the Jos Crises (1994-2010)
Authors: Fodang, Augustine Ambrose
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: University of Jos
Abstract: This work examines language use during the crises that erupted in Jos from 1994 to 2010. Generally speaking, language is at the centre of virtually every aspect of human life, and operates on different levels and in different forms, according to the context in which it is used. The aim of the study was to examine the several factors that have determined the linguistic choices of the parties to the Jos conflicts which are different from ordinary day-to-day conversations, and the effects of these choices on the conflicts. Although several studies have been carried out on the Jos crises, direct exchanges between the parties in conflict have not been collated and analysed. This study analysed the featuers of the language used by the parties in conflict, as well as their perception of language and communication in conflict situations. The fundamental theory adopted in this study is the Systemic Functional Linguistic Theory which asserts that language use is determined by the prevailing circumstances surrounding it. Since context determines language use, the type of language employed in conflict situations is certainly different from that used in ordinary everyday conversations. The study made use of two primary instruments of data collection. One was the collection of samples of utterances, remarks or comments by parties in conflict and also by third parties as recorded in reports of commissions of inquiry into the conflicts, conference proceedings as well as newspapers. The other major instrument is the questionnaire. The structured type of the questionnaire was used to obtain information about how language was used during the conflict as well as the perceptions of the people on particular linguistic choices and patterns of communication. In addition, the interview technique was also employed where twelve people, made up of some leaders and other members of the feuding communities, were randomly selected and interviewed on the role language played in the crises. The effects of the use of language are felt in two opposite ways: they may be constructive and positive or may be destructive and negative. The analysis of the features of the language used during the Jos crises reveals that language played a major role in the eruption and escalation of the conflicts which bedeviled the area during the years under examination. Foul and inappropriate language use contributed greatly to the crises, and in many instances, it was solely responsible for igniting trouble. Responses to items in the questionnaire indicate further that communication between the feuding parties was greatly strained while the conflicts lasted. This led to resentment, mutual suspicion and distrust among the people which also resulted in polarized settlement patterns in the metropolis. Effective language use and proper communication between parties to a conflict have been found to be a panacea for all forms of conflict. The study posits that effective communication by parties in conflict is an essential tool in conflict resolution. Just as language can create or escalate a conflict, it can also be used to defuse tension and tame even the fiercest temper. The study has established that crisis situations, such as those witnessed in Jos and environs during the period under study, are responsible for the type of language used in such situations. In addition, it has revealed that language itself is an instrument for creating situations of conflict. All this implies that effective communication and proper use of language can go a long way in solving most, if not all, of society‟s social problems.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/123456789/2718
Appears in Collections:Faculty of Arts

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