Ideology and Power: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Excerpts from Peter Abraham’s Tell Freedom

Ideology and Power: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Excerpts from Peter Abraham’s Tell Freedom

Author(s) by Ochulor Nwaugo Goodseed
Pages 29-46
Keywords discourse, critical discourse analysis, ideology, power
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Abstract


A critical study of a discourse or text will unravel some of the hidden implications of certain language elements employed by language users which are never obvious from the characterization and thematic development of such texts or discourses. This study sets out to examine some excerpts from the novel Tell Freedom to highlight the power and ideological relations that characterized the S/African society of the colonial era. The analysis of these excerpts was done at two levels. At the first level, we used the following discourse tools: inform exchange, elicitation, Face Threatening Act (FTA), cooperative maxims, interjection, politeness and presupposition, to analyse the excerpts. At the second level, we used the Fairclough‟s critical discourse tools of explanation, description and interpretation in addition to Haliday‟s Systemic Functional Linguistic Theory. SFL is a theory of language that has a discursive approach to language study, and takes into account context to assist in the understanding of how socio-political or socio-cultural ideologies are intertwined with language and discourse. The first level of discourse analysis illustrated what happens in the natural order of discourse or conversation as well as the discourse elements that are naturally employed. On the second level, we looked above the natural order of discourse to situations or contexts that can help to reveal certain hidden motives behind ordinary language use. Using afore mentioned tools, the study made a clear distinction between the two levels of analysis, showing where the ordinary analysis of discourse stops and the point where the critical investigation comes in. From the analysis of the excerpts, the different power relations and the ideological display inherent in the then S/African society were x-rayed. The study reveals that the structure of some utterances in the text shows power and control by a certain class in the society. In addition, it is discovered that titles which are taken as natural way of address are not just natural but are built around certain ideologies that are geared towards structuring the society and that they serve as strategies to subdue others. Furthermore, the study made explicit, the white man‟s wrong ideology about Africa proving from the data that Africa had a long history, culture and tradition before the coming of the white man. This paper therefore, recommends that critical language studies be re-introduced into the classrooms. Every student in the languages department should be made to undertake critical language studies classes. This will help them to understand when and where ideologies and power relations come into play in language use as well as the social structures that has empowered such language use. African diplomats should be exposed to critical language studies. This as well will help them to understand the manipulative nature of some discourses that they submit to which are not to the good of African countries.

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