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Josephine Oyinbo



Oladimeji Olaniyi

Department of English & Literary Studies,
Federal University Lokoja


The goal of this study is to investigate Speech Act types in the utterances between      traders in Kabba markets and their customers. To gather data for this study, the researcher visited the five popular markets in Kabba, Kogi State. The five markets include Kabba Central market, Zango Market, Odogi market, Ojapona and Ojaoba. The researcher approached some market women with a telephone set which has a device to record conversations. The voices of the market women in the course of haggling prices, responding to enquiries from customers, displaying and showing goods and food stuff to be bought by customers served as primary data for the study. The theory adapted for the analysis of the conversations is Austin’s (1962) Speech Act Theory. We find that the dominant speech act in the utterances is informing, used to inform the customers about the prices of the commodities, “commending” which is used to appreciate the traders. “Questioning” appeared in the samples and it was used to ask the traders what they have in stock.  “Appreciating” as a speech act was used to express gratitude after as successful bargain. “Agreeing” appeared in the samples functioning as a consensus between trader and buyer. “Ordering”, “revealing” and “informing” also appeared as acts for asking traders to bring what he or she sells, and revealing information about the commodity. The efforts in this present study has led us to a three-fold distinction which Austin draws in relation to the locutionary, illocutionary and perlocutionary acts involved in a total speech Act. 

Keywords:  Speech Act, Locution, Illocution, Perlocutionary Act

DOI: 10.36349/zamijoh.2023.v02i01.007


      Despite the fact that communication takes place everywhere, there are genres of each type of communication experienced in diverse fields and disciplines. The use of language amongst market women is known as haggling, negotiating or bargaining.  Can the language used by the market women be considered as “doing things with words?” Speech Act, by Austin (1962) opines that any form of spoken words or language is known as Speech Act. Conversations between traders and their various customers depend on so many factors. In fact, traders name prices of goods considering different factors ranging from age, gender, status and bargaining ability of the buyer. In many local markets such as in Kabba where there is a mix of both old women and men as well as the younger folks, language preference is a choice because of the level of exposure of everyone in Nigeria after secondary school education. Apart from age, there are many market women and men who are not of Yoruba descents in Kabba, who grew up as Igbo traders or from other ethnic groups.

Therefore, this study seeks to investigate the Speech Act types prevalent in a market context without any bias for the indigenous languages or the Pidgin English being used predominantly by the marketers and their customers. The study also seeks to describe the kind of direct and indirect speech acts being used by the traders and the buyers when they haggle prices or introduce their foodstuff to their customers who also price such foodstuff. Thus, this study is the pragmatics of buying and selling in selected major Kabba markets. In justifying the research effort, there are many studies which have investigated language use in the market place (see, van Dijk 2017; Olaniyi 2020; Ardley and Quinn (2013). The difference between the aforementioned studies and the present one is the focus on Kabba market.

Presupposition and Implicature

Presupposition is the assumption shared by the speaker and hearer. This assumption forms the background of their on-going discourse. A presupposition is a meaning one accommodate alongside utterance (Grundy 200:49). Due to these shared knowledge by Interlocutors some certain things were taken for granted during conversation; this is what presupposition deals with in most cases, presupposition are things that have to be true in order for the utterance to make sense.

            The importance of assumption to the interpretation of meaning cannot be over emphasized. This is because there are a lot of meanings encoded in a speaker’s intention. Hence, the presupposition comes into play as it plays an important role in the comprehension of a speech. Levinson (1983) states that a presupposition is something assumed (presupposed) to be true in a sentence which asserts other information. It will generally remain a necessary assumption whether the utterance is placed in the form of an assertion, denial or question and can be associated with a specific lexical item or grammatical feature in the utterance.

            An explicit feature of presupposition is that they are true information not explicitly stated in an utterance. In this regard, Finch (2000) writes that presupposition deals with the necessary preconditions for statements to be true. Presupposition refers to assumption implicitly made by speakers and listeners which are necessary for the correct interpretation of utterance. For example, an utterance of “John forgot to call Mary” typically has a presuppositional inference that John was supposed to call Mary, thus, the latter is a presupposed information of the former.

            There are two types of presupposition: semantic and pragmatic. According to Grundy (2008:48) semantic presupposition is the assumption based on the definite description of the referent, while pragmatic presupposition is determined by context. In a market discourse such as in the present study there are utterances presupposed by the sampled interlocutors which aided meaning interpretation, although this is not the focus of this article. On the other hand, “Implicature” is a theory of meaning developed by H.P Grice. It is seen as meaning suggested or implied by the speaker, but not explicitly stated. Implicatures arise from the flouting of maxims of the Cooperative Principle. Grice (1989) identified two types of implicatures. These are conventional and conversational implicatures. These implicatures are not considered in this study of the utterances between market women and their customers in Kabba. However, the focal theory  is the speech act which has guided the analysis of the sampled utterances in this study.

Speech Acts

Central to pragmatics is speech Acts theory (SAT) as it is concerned with specific social acts performed in making utterances, the term 'Speech Act' is traceable to the Cambridge Philosopher J.L Austin in the view he expounded in the series of William James lectures he delivered at Harvard in 1962 in a book titled "How to Do Things With Words". The publication of the book marked a watershed in the study of meaning: it was the beginning of pragmatics as a discipline in language study. Austin contended that Language is not about the meaning of words and phrases, we use in expressing our objective reality. He argued that the words are not ordinary, but on many occasions, constitute the actual performance or accomplishment of an action. Austin (1962) proves that there are many utterances whose production constitutes, partly or wholly, the performance of an action. Thus, when A says to B, “I will buy you a car or I am sorry”, he/she is not just making a statement of meaning, but performing the actions of promising and apologizing respectively.

As Searle (1975:16) has observed, "speaking a language is performing Speech Acts which include acts such as making statements, giving commands, asking questions or making promises. All Linguistic communication involves Linguistic (speech) acts". This means that some of our utterances in speech situations perform some kinds of "acts" like commanding, asking requesting, stating or commenting. Yule (1996:134) defines Speech Acts as "action performed by the use of an utterance to communicate". In other words, Speech Acting has to do with the action performed in saying what is said.In his contribution, Mey (2001:95) explains that "Speech Acts are verbal actions happening in the world. Uttering a speech Act, I do something with my words. I perform an activity that at best intentionally brings about a change in the existing state of affairs.  The main thrust of Speech Act theory is that utterances do not only express a state of being but also perform actions.  We do not merely say something with our words,we do something with them.Also of note is that an utterance or statement by a speaker is both an expression of meaning and attitude. There is the functional or performative aspect of speech (Speech Acts) and since meaning and usage are interrelated, attitude maybe expressed by/in the performance of a speech act

Language-in-use is liable to illocutionary indeterminacy (Leech, 1983). It is not always plausible for a hearer to easily come to conclusion about what a speaker means; so to account for the correct inherent meaning or the likely inherent meaning in an utterance of a speaker, several theories were put forward by pragmaticists. Among these theories is the Speech Act theory. The British Philosopher J.L Austin (1911-1960) was the first to draw attention to the many functions performed by utterances as part of interpersonal communication. Specifically, he pointed out that many utterances do not communicate information but are equivalent to action. One can use Language to do things. Language can be used to make promises; lay bets, issue warnings, Christen children, offer congratulations and swear oaths or give testimonies.

Mey (2001) says that Speech Acts are verbal actions happening in the world. He further states that by uttering a Speech Act, one does something with his words. Speech Acts are communicative acts performed with the use of oral or written language in order to bring about a change of affairs in the world. Verscheuren posits that Austin broadly classifies acts into two (2) which are 'constatives and performatives'. Constatives are utterances which can be either true or false and performatives are utterances used to perform actions which can be either felicitous or infelicitous. Austin further classifies 'performatives into Explict (e.g I name this child Dora) and implict (e.g Get out !).The action of naming is stated in the word 'name', while the action of ordering is implied in the "Get out". As the foremost proponent of Speech Act theory, Austin (1962) postulates that engaging in Speech Act means performing the complementary acts of Locution, Illocution and Perlocution.

Locutionary Speech Acts:  A locutionary act is an expression used with a determinate sense or reference.In other words, a locutionary act refers to the actual words uttered (Thomas, 1995).Yule (1996) opines that, to produce a meaningful linguistic expression is to perform a locutionary act. It refers to utterances being uttered that are well organized in grammar, locutions are acts of saying something or producing an utterance; they are equivalent to utterances.

An illocutionary act is an act performed through the actual expression. It can also be said to be the intention of the speaker. Illocutionary acts include commanding, informing, warning, threatening, deterring, promising, directing, appreciating, congratulating etc and can be performed through performatives, whether or not they contain performative verbs.  Austin postulates five (5) categories of illocutionary acts which are Exercitives - acts that connote order, request or advice with the use of verbs such as acquit,hold, calculate, beg etc. Verdictives, as acts of making judgements or decisions with the use of verbs such as acquit, hold, calculate, analyse as well as Commissives which are used to make promises, pledge, contract etc. There are also Expositives - acts that expand views, make illustrations and give responses with verbs such as affirm, deny, illustrate, answer, describe, etc., and Behavitives which are acts that express the mental state of a speaker with verbs such as apologise, thank, commiserate, congratulate etc.

            Perlocutionary Acts, according to Lawal (1997) result from the encoder’s use of representation resources and it is the intended or unintended consequence of or reaction to what is represented. In other words, Perlocutionary Acts are the effects of an utterance. This means that when an utterance is uttered, it has certain effects on the hearer. It makes the hearer to behave in a certain way. Perlocutionary act therefore refers to what is being done by saying something.  For example, an utterance may make the hearer laugh, cry, leave a place, become dejected, become hopeful, stand or even sit.

Kempson (1986) places the three (3) acts as “... speaker utters sentence with a particular meaning (Locutionary act) and with particular force (illocutionary)in order to achieve a certain effect (perlocutionary act)on the hearer.

Direct and Indirect Speech Acts

            Yule (1996) distinguishes between direct speech act and Indirect Speech Acts (p.133). Direct speech acts are straight-forward and in most cases containperformative verbs. Direct speech shows a clear relationship between the form (structure) and the function; the structure is performing, then the Speech Act is direct. Functionally, the directive sentence is expected to make a statement; the interrogative should ask a question; while the imperative should give a command or make a request. Ideally when this happens, the speech is direct (Osisanwo,2003). On the other hand, indirect speech act requires inferences on the part of the hearer or reader. Searle (1969) says that an indirect speech act is one performed by a "means of another speech"(cited Thomas 1995). Mey (2001) views indirect speech act as a combination of two (2) acts, "a Primary illocutionary act and a secondary one, where the primary act operates through and enforce the secondary one"(1996:113). Indirect Speech Acts result if there is no correlation between a structure and the function the structure is performing. For example:

      *Could you dress the baby?

The above sentence is a question, but it is also understood as a request. Hence,an indirect Speech Act because the structure (interrogative) is different from the function (which is a "request"). Indirect Speech Acts besides asking and answering questions and criticizing others add humour and sometimes show politeness.

 Data Sampling

The raw data are the conversations between traders and buyers at specific markets in Kabba. These conversations were transcribed orthographically. The transcribed data were carefully and randomly selected for conversations which were to be presented as sentences. There were too many words to choose but the very reliable conversations were transcribed for analysis in this study. The reliable utterances have been analyzed in samples 1-10. The analytical method for this study is simply the Speech Act Analysis. Thus Austin's Speech Act Theory (SAT) (1962) has been adapted as the theory to explain the utterances of the Kabba market women’s discourse. The samples have been arranged as datums. Thus, there are datum 1 to datum 10 which have been discussed in the following section under data analysis.

Theoretical Framework

             One basic tenet of Austin’s theory of Speech Acts is that language use does not occur in a vacuum; sentences and utterances are used to perform some acts such as ordering, informing, commanding, condemning, accusing etc., in explicating the theory of Speech-Acts, Austin (1962) asserts that the focus of attention cannot be the sentence or utterance but the total speech-Acts in the total speech situation. In the original version of the speech-acts theory, Austin draws a number of distinctions, one of which is the distinction between constatives and performatives. According to him, a constative utterance states a fact, reports or describes something, i.e., I am Happy; Oil floats on water. She is beautiful. Austin proceeds to say that constatives can be subjected to a truth-value test i.e truth of falsehood which can be verified.On the other hand performative utterances do not state a fact, report or describe something, they are utterances whose saying consists in doing something. In other words, performatives are used to perform actions and they cannot be said to be true or false utterances like "I declare the ceremony open" I name this child, Wumi are performatives in the Austinian sense.

According to Lyons (1977:127) “the distinction between constantives and performatives as originally drawn by Austin rested upon the distinction between saying something and doing something by means of language. All the same, the distinction is not clear. In fact, in the course of developing this theory, Austin abandons this constative - performative dichotomy.

  Another distinction which Austin draws is within the class of performatives. This is the distinction between what he calls " explicitperformatives" and "primary performatives". Primary performatives lack what Austin calls performatives verbs e.g., promise, Accuse, Declare, Warn, predict, Swear etc. An example of a primary performative utterance is "I" will be there soon ". On the other hand, the explicit performatives contain performative verbs and in fact Austin's formulae for the explicit performative utterances, is first person singular present indicative active form".

But realizing that this may not be a necessary and sufficient condition for an utterance to be performatives, he introduces the section of the word "hereby" between the first person singular subject and its performative verb e.g., “I hereby name this child Adewunmi". The notion of primary and explicit performatives shows that what Austin first classed as constative may, in fact be another form of performative.

Within the classes of performatives, Austin still defines five types with an acknowledgement of overlapping possibilities. There are what he calls verdictives, Excercitives, Commissive, Behabitives and Expositives (Allen and Corder 1974). According to him, verdictives are the excersing of powers, right or "influence" while commissive commits one to doing something. The behavitives as Austin says from a very miscellaneous group "having to do with attitudes and social behaviour while Expositives make plain how our utterances fit into the course of our arguments or conversations. Austin Submits that classification is based on the illocutionary force of utterance.      This leads us to a three-fold distinction which Austin draws in relation to the locutionary, illocutionary and perlocutionary acts involved in a total Speech Acts. By the locutionary act is meant the utterances of certain noises of certain words with certain meaning, thus the locutionary act is the act of producing a meaningful utterance of a certain grammatical order. The illocutionary act is that which we perform in uttering certain words.

             According to Austin, the illocutionary act can be regarded as the force with which an utterance is employed; it relates to the status of an utterance as an order, a warning etc. As it would be expected, saying something will often produce certain consequential effects upon the feelings, thoughts or actions of the hearer - it is such an act of producing some effects on the hearer that Austin calls the Perlocutionary Act, for example, in uttering "there is a big black snake over there", the speaker may infest it with the status or force of a warning if the hearer perceives it so. Thus, if the illocutionary act is the meaning in the saying perlocutionary act is what is performed by making certain utterances.

Data Presentation and Analysis

The analysis is guided by the provisions of Austin’s (1962)Speech Acts which include Locution, Illocution and Perlocution.  However, the general elements of pragmatics will feature in the discussions as the background to the speech act analysis. The language of interlocution is either, pidgin, English or vernacular. From datum 1-10, are numerous speech acts in terms of what is said, what is done and the effect of what is said on the hearer and co-interlocutors are summarized in the data analysis in the following sections.


What is said by the market women and their customers are identified as the locution. Speaker A:   greets her customer. She is a trader in the market. “Good Morin ma, how you dey now, come buy fresh fish o”. The buyer responded, as Speaker B:  “Ehen how much u dey sell am ?”The Context of the locutions is at Kabba Central market where thousands of market men and women patronize on a daily basis. The Situational, Psychological and Social Context sustains the locutionary acts. Greetings from the market woman and invitation to buy fish - The direct and indirect illocutionary acts are those of inviting and introducing the commodities in stock to the potential buyers. The customer becomes attracted to the trader. Speaker A says“Na just #400 naira e be”.

The locutionary acts sighted are those of impressing in datum 1, commending in datum 2, questioning in datum 3, appreciating in datum 4, agreeing in datum 5 and 6, ordering in datum 7, revealing in datum 8 and informing in datum 9.In reaction to the price given by the trader,  Speaker B says, “E too cost o”. The trader tells the price of what she sells.

            The locutions in the data collected are in the categories of greetings, in datum 1 and 4, while the locutions of commending is sighted in datum 2. Conceding to the prices of goods is sighted in datum 5, while stating is found in datum 7. The locution of protesting is found in datum 3, inviting in datum 8 and asking in datum 9. Speaker A says “Morinng my sister, this your vegetable fresh well well” and Speaker B replies by saying “Na just 3(three) #200 o things don cost”. The locutions are invariably, of greetings and commendations of vegetables as being fresh.Speaker A in datum 3, greets the customer by saying,“Morin for here oo, Gimme tomatoes, One basket, while Speaker B says, “Na 1200”.

            In datum 4, the Speaker A: greets, “Ekaro ma, Funminiila (okro); the one of 200”. Speaker B replies with pleasantries by saying, “Omo mi Shey o wa” Ok naim be this. Make I give u three basket #500 because na u” There are greetings and requests for the okro as the buyer thanks the seller for the kind gesture.  In datum 5, Speaker A exclaims, “AhanAhan”, “Fine girl you no go buy something from my hand ni?” The trader introduces her sock, saying, “I get new yam o;  E no too cost and e sweet well well. I go sell better for you, because I like u”. The buyer retorts thus: “Hope the price no go too big for me ? As na new yam so”. There are exclamation, Praises, Questioning, Invitation. The consequential effects of these locutions are presented presently in the following sections of the study. The argument in datum 5 is between the trader and the buyer. The price of the yam is being haggled by the trader and the buyer. The trader refuses the price suggested by the buyer. She requests that the buyer adds a little money to the price given her.The seller concedes to the buyer’s limit and accepts the offer.

            In datum 6, Speaker A says “Ekasan mummy, Gimme Rice, 1 mdule, Shebiit’s 1300? Foreign rice o” Speaker B says,“No worry I no Dey cheat my customers”. There are greetings, requests and statements on the measure of rice she intends to buy. Expression of trust for the trader by the buyer is displayed. In datum seven, Speaker A says, “there is fresh pepper here o, Come and get your fresh pepper here”. Speaker: B replies with “Come, how much?”The pepper seller is inviting would-be customers to come for the pepper arranged on the tray in the market. The locutions in the utterances are that the trader tells the buyer how much she sells the pepper after the greetings. The buyer requests that she be given tatashe. The illocutionary acts include that of ordering in “give me tatashe”, presenting the pepper to the buyer and the receiving of the pepper as an indirect illocution. The Perlocutionary effect of the giving is seen in the satisfactory remark by the buyer.  In datum eight, Speaker A asks, “Who Dey sell for here, Afternoon o, Abeg, mummy u get big custard that (3 in 1)?”, Speaker B replies with, “I no get o”. But, I get another type of custard (Checkers) that one too good sef”. In this context, speaker B is the trader. Speaker A reacted immediately by rejecting the offer. “Ah, me I no like that one o. Na that 3 in 1 Deymake sense pass. Speaker B: Okay now, No wahala, I no get”. The buyer opens the conversation by asking for who the trader is.

In datumnine, Speaker A says, gimme half bag of small beans and Speaker B says, Morning my customer, Small beans now na #5,800”. This is an act of “Asking” for half bag of small beans to open the conversation by the buyer. In datum ten, Speaker A greets with“Eveningo,I want milk (Refilled one). How much is the medium size? Speaker B greets in response to the opening gambit, “Good evening ma, It is #1750”.The conversation opens with greetings and a request for milk

Illocutionary Acts

The categories of illocutionary acts identified in the collected data include impressing, politeness, declaring, requesting, accepting, conceding, advertising, giving, asking, questioning. In datum 1,impressing is an illocutionary act identified. In the use of just the speaker gives the impression that the commodities are cheap. Politeness strategies used by the trader to attract customers. Trader takes advantage of the buyer’s interest in the vegetables to hike price of the commodity. For instance, Speaker A: says, Nawao, shagimme like that , Speaker B says, Toor, “carry am I go add jara (extra).There is a subtle protest of the high price of commodity. With a Declarative statement in datum 3, the seller responds by questioning the buyer.

Perlocutionary Act

            The perlocutionary effects of the sayings and the doings are in the categories of commanding, lamenting, appreciating, conceding, attracting, requesting, informing and accepting. Contrary to the expectation of the traders, the buyers protest the price of the fish she intends to buy in datum 1. “U no go gree 2 for #700 now, Abeg I see say e fresh sef.” The buyer goes further to bargain the commodities. The buyer haggles the price by asking to buy two at a cheaper rate. She commends the trader’s stock for its freshness. This is a speech act of confessing. Speaker A says “Toor because na u carry am” and Speaker B is happy and replies with “Correct person weasabi, Thank u”. The trader appreciates the buyer’s commendation of the fish as being healthy and edible. The Perlocutionary effect of the praises from the buyer is the use of words, such as “”correct person, weysabi”.  The trader in datum 2 becomes uncomfortable by the buyer’s reaction to the price. She decides to add more vegetables in lieu of money and hides under a supposed relationship with the buyer. Speaker A says “Thank you jare,           Market Dey go well ba” Speaker B replies with “Toor we thank God o, Bye bye ma. The context of the bargaining above is such that the trader knows the buyer. The trader decides to exploit the buyer by selling vegetables at very high prices in a local market in Kabba.

            Following the reaction of the buyer who appears to have been aware that the trader wishes to swindle her, expresses her dissatisfaction using some native exclamations which were understood by the trader. The Perlocutionary effect of the buyer’s reaction makes her receive more vegetables which could be commensurate with the two hundred naira she is being made to cough out for three sticks of vegetable leaves. Datum 3  shows that the buyer knows that she has arrived at the tomato shop; her reason for the word, “here”, indicating a new store. The speech act performed is that of requesting.  A spontaneous response from the seller goes thus:  Speaker A:  Something wea I buy for 900 naira when eturn 1200. Nawa o where this country Dey go sef ?” Speaker B reacts with “Shey make I give u like dat ?”The Perlocutionis in the buyer regretting and lamenting the changes in prices of food items. Speaker A syas,  No be say I get any choice o, Thank you”. The buyer reluctantly accepts to buy the tomatoes at the rate of 1,200.

            While the act performed by the buyer in datum 4 is that of requesting. The perlocutionary effect is greetings to express joy for the patronage. Speaker A says, “Okay ma, ESeun ma; Mo dupe. The speech act performed is appreciation. The buyer shows appreciation because the seller has a good manner of approach. In datum 5, the seller isinviting the buyer to buy yam, by introducing the yam tubers to the would-be buyer. Enticing the girl by saying the yams are cheap and sweet. The perlocutionary effect is seen in the buyer exercising fear that the prices may be unbearable. This is because they are new yams. New yams are the newly harvested yam tubers in a new harvesting year. Thus, we have Speaker A saying, “No now,e cheap die,  Yousef know say i no fit cheat you, Speaker B replies with “Toor, pack one side gimme,  How much like this?”

            There is an understanding of incessant hikes in prices of food items in the country. Thus there is a common ground informing the illocutionary and Perlocutionary acts being performed by the buyers and the sellers. Locutions and the illocutionary forces in market discourses are made cohesive through turn taking. Greeting each other, introducing the food items, inviting the buyer and using sweet and hospitable words smoothens the pragmatics of trader-customer conversations.   

            The data collected for this study appear to have a recurring pattern because market women have same style of inviting their customers. The different speech acts identified from the analysis so far are summarized in the table below. There are different speech acts with different functions in market discourses. In the present study of Kabba market women discourse and their customers, the locution, illocution and perlocutionary acts can be further analysed for direct and indirect illocutionary acts as can be seen in the table below.

Speech Acts in Kabba market women and customers’ conversations

Discussion of Findings

From the analysis of the utterances in the data labelled datum 1 to 10, a number of findings have been revealed. Impressing as a speech act appeared ones making 10% of the appearances while commending also appeared ones making 10% of the appearances. Questioning appeared ones which also makes 10% of the appearances.  Appreciating as a speech act appeared ones making 10% of the occurrences while agreeing appeared thrice, making 30% of the appearances. Ordering, revealing and informing also appeared ones, making 10% of the appearances. This statistics is represented below in a chart.

Figure 1. Chart of Speech Act frequency

Figure 1. Chart of Speech Act frequency

            From the chart in figure 1, it is clear that all the illocutionary act types appeared at the same level of 10% occurrence while the act of agreeing appeared in 30% of the times and so higher than other speech act types in the data sampled for analysis. Overall it is verifiable that in the study of Kaba women and their customers’ conversations,utterances were used to reveal old and new prices of foodstuff due to the current spate of inflation in the country. The buyers were also seen ordering the traders to bring one commodity or the other. Information about prices, the quality of the commodity and the status of the commodity in the market were shared between the buyers and the sellers.

More often than all the act of impressing the buyers with available foodstuff is a common phenomenon in Kabba, while the traders also commend their customers. The interlocutors were also seen appreciating one another while the end of most discussions has to do with agreeing on a satisfactory price between the traders and the buyers. It can be concluded therefore that agreement is a major speech act function which the illocutionary acts perform in market discourses.


The aim of this study was to investigate Speech Acts types in the utterances between      traders in Kabba markets and their customers. The specific objectives were to identify the different Speech Acts in Market Discourse, identify the major users of the Speech Acts in Market Discourse, explain the preponderant Speech Act types and why it is being used among traders and their customers. Only the interaction between sellers of staple foods, provisions and beverages were recorded for Speech Acts Analysis. Ten (10) sampled traders-buyers conversations were selected for this study in Kabba main market. Although there are other commodities in the market, the study focused mainly on foodstuff and consumable edible items.         

             The efforts in this present study has led us to a three- fold distinction which Austin draws in relation to the locutionary, illocutionary and perlocutionary acts involved in a total speech Acts. By the locutionary act we observed a repetition of a pattern by the market women. For personal or ulterior motive, there is a forced politeness strategy to create familiarity between the buyers and the traders. In most cases, the market women pretend to have an existing relationship between the buyers and the sellers. This informed references to past events, extension of greetings to daughters, sisters and other relations.  Thus, the locutionary act is the act of producing meaningful utterances of a certain grammatical order. This is open ended because there is primarily no act intended but certain pronouncements have been made.

 The illocutionary acts in the study have been summarized in table one above. From the analysis of the utterances in the data labelled datum 1 to 10, a number of findings have been revealed. One of the notable characteristics of the market women is the desire to impress their would-be customers. They formed fake friendly nature and undue familiarity geared towards gaining the attention of the buyer. Impressing as a speech act appeared ones making 10% of the appearances while commending also appeared ones making 10% of the appearances. Questioning appeared ones which also made 10% of the appearances.  Appreciating as a speech act appeared ones making 10% of the occurrences while agreeing appeared thrice, making 30% of the appearances. Ordering, revealing and informing also appeared ones, making 10% of the appearances. On the whole we conclude that there is a preponderant use of the agreement clauses by both the buyers and the sellers. Without both interlocutors agreeing, there would be a total breakdown of market discourse.


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