A Discourse Analysis of Language Choice in MTN® and Etisalat® Advertisements in Nigeria

Author: Dalamu, Taofeek Olaiwola

Supervisors: Adeyemi Daramola and Tunde Opeibi

Since 1999, advertisements of telecommunications’ products in Nigeria seem to have had great impacts on society by inspiring the public to patronize their goods and services. On that ground scholars have attempted to analyse advertising texts and images. The focus of this research was the explication of a range of language choices as persuasive strategies that MTN® and etisalat® utilised to elicit consumers in order to purchase their products. The author selected a samplebased of 50 MTN’s and etisalat’s print media advertisements from The PUNCH® and The Guardian®. The preference for the newspapers rested on their nationwide spread and the readership’s strength. The applications of Halliday’s systemic tools espoused as Ideational, Interpersonal and Textual Metafunctions permitted technological tools of tables, graphs and pie charts to calibrate the facilities of advertisements’ communicative lexemic and registerial choices. The analysis demonstrated how the interplay of Mood and Residue, Process and Participants, and Theme and Rheme communicated meaning to motivate subscribers to consumption. The three strands of functional perspectives related in a systematic way with the language choices in order to produce and convey meaning potential. In addition, Compounding and Blending supported the inquiry to explain creative and specific language choices that show advertisers’ practices of word-formation. The quantitative-cum-qualitative approach displayed the following preliminary findings, that: (i) structural organisations of MTN and etisalat have given to Topical Theme, Marked Theme and Unmarked Theme (ii), the language choices that MTN and etisalat employed mainly exemplified in imperatives and declaratives with elliptical declaratives; and (iii) MTN and etisalat advertisements consistently used new ideas to create new words to communicate meaning. Thus, the author observed contingency constructs as creative over-generalisation (yous), creative familiarisation (9javaganza), wordplay fragmentation (y’ello), and creative association (wwwherever). Language choices of MTN and etisalat advertisements seemed significant because the communication devices offered insights into how meanings were created to influence decisions on product options. At one level, the research revealed that both MTN and etisalat constructed language choices of their advertisements relatively the same way. At another level, this investigation exhibited some differences in the usage of Material Processes by MTN and etisalat. For instance, MTN employed Material Processes of bring, get and make while etisalat utilised get, recharge and dial to subtly influence consumers to patronize their products. Furthermore, the analyst observed that etisalat used more of Circumstantial elements in terms of Location than MTN as symbols of business contacts. Significantly, creativity in MTN and etisalat advertisements was perhaps deliberately deployed in form of neologism and contingency vocabulary to catch attention, enhance memorability, and convey persuasion as well as create special ornamental identity such as Y’ello and 0809ja. In conclusion, this study has thrown more light on how deliberate language choices could generate discursive patterns and layers of meaning in product advertisements. As the analysis could stimulate researchers to explore advertising discourse in new and digitised ways; so also could the linguistic derivatives inspire advertising professionals to produce novel coinages. The study suggested that advertising discourse should be encouraged in universities in order to understand the nature of the language unveiled. Among others, the exercise could inform government agencies on how to regulate the language deployment in the advertising industry, especially in the telecommunications sector. Besides, the research has the capacity to promote lemmatisation development, corpus linguistics and cross-fertilisation of ideas in linguistics and computerisation domains to enhance professional practices in society.