A Pragmatics Analysis of Language Use in Selected Nigerian Newspaper Headlines on Banditry Reportage

Cite this article as: Ojoo, S.Y. & Ibrahim, A.G. (2023) A Pragmatics Analysis of Language Use in Selected Nigerian Newspaper Headlines on Banditry Reportage. Zamfara International Journal of Humanities, (2)2, 12-23. www.doi.org/10.36349/zamijoh.2023.v02i02.002.

A Pragmatics Analysis of Language Use in Selected Nigerian Newspaper Headlines on Banditry Reportage


Saidu Yahaya Ojoo, (PhD),
English & Literature,
Federal University Gusau, Zamfara State, Nigeria
Email: saiduoyahaya@fugusau.edu.ng/ 08036498672 


Almu Gafai Ibrahim
Department of English
National Open University of Nigeria
Katsina Study Centre, Katsina State, Nigeria
Email: a ibrahimalmugafai@gmail.com / +2348036137588 


The paper examines the analysis of language use in Nigerian Newspapers on banditry Reportage. A Speech Act Analysis of headlines in The Guardian and The Punch newspaper reports on banditry are considered with a view to finding out the speech acts that characterize the headlines. The speech act presents and documents locutionary, illocutionary and perlocutionary acts that convey the intention of speakers in banditry speeches. In an attempt to carry out the analysis, the study randomly collected 16 headlines on banditry from the Punch newspaper and the Guardian newspaper respectively. These headlines were analyzed to reveal their speech act import. The study adopted a qualitative descriptive research method. The speech act theory as modified by Searle (1969) serves as the theoretical framework of analysis for the study. The findings reveal that three of the five speech acts modified are found in the headlines reported in the selected newspaper headlines but the assertive dominates the occurrence of the speech acts. In conclusion, headlines reported concerning banditry may serve as weapons of negotiation, dialogue, intimidation, blackmail, incitement and coercion and thus create an atmosphere of fear and anxiety within the country. Based on this, the paper recommends that language users or communicators on either side of the contention must think before they speak, such speech should be devoid of rage, emotion, and irrationality, but must reflect calm, reality and humility.

Keywords: Use of Language, Newspapers, Headlines, Banditry, Reportage


Language is not just a means of communication. It is also a means of maintaining relationships among people within a community of people. It is a tool for expressing and presenting ideas but understanding how language is used to shape ideas is equally important (Beard, 2000:18). The role of pragmatics can emerge in revealing the text-producer's genuine intentions, which can be disguised at times, leading to a sense of misunderstanding on the text-producer's part (Van Dijk, 1977:216).

According to Mey (2001, p. 6-7), "Pragmatics as the study of the way human beings use their language in communication, bases itself on a study of those premises and determine how they affect human language use." Speech acts are widely recognized as a type of human communication activity. Identifying the different sorts of speech activities might help a listener or reader deduce information that the speaker does not directly transmit. The majority of past research on headline language has mainly concentrated on the stylistic and rhetorical features of those used in newspapers. We shall bring to the fore by way of reviewing the already existing literature in the course of this work. Newspaper publishers are excellent at selecting specific headlines and assuming motives or meaning to a newspaper. Context (both situational and cultural context) is vital in these decisions. These pragmatic factors determine the use of lexico-syntactic approaches, lexico-semantic patterns, and the mode of presenting information in a coherent shape in a headline. As a result, the headlines in every newspaper are pragmatic. It is pragmatic because the headline developer has an overarching aim in mind for the phrase. As a result, the message, medium, substance, and shape all have a pragmatic undercurrent. This is because every newspaper publisher envisions an audience for their content (themes and concerns) as well as form (language choices and patterns).

Language has evolved in multiple ways to transmit various concepts. As a result, some newspaper headlines have used speech acts to express both explicit and inferred meanings, particularly in the context of language users. This illustrates that language use changes as a result of age, occupation, purpose, social status, culture, and what Lawal (1997) refers to as Mutual contextual beliefs (MCBs), which Osisanwo (2003) mentions. According to Halliday (2004), language serves three major functions: ideational function, interpersonal function, and textual function. Ideational language is the use of words to reflect one's experience of the real world, inner consciousness, and symbolization. To maintain social interactions, language users engage in the interpersonal function of language. Meetings, social gatherings, and education are all examples of such linkages. This use of language fosters social cohesion and helps to preserve society's social fabric. Textual function refers to the use of language to create various types of texts. One thing to keep in mind is that language usage at these several levels varies on every Banditry newspaper headline; therefore, Pragmatic Act.

Brief Overview of the Evolution of Banditry in Nigeria

Banditry is not a new phenomenon in Nigeria, as many people believe. According to anecdotal and factual evidence, the phenomenon existed before Nigeria was established as a political entity. Banditry was documented in colonial Nigeria as early as the 1930s, according to Jaafar (2018). Jaafar provides historical context for this claim: Travelers and merchants moving via our local trade corridors faced the difficulties and hazards of ambush by unknown bandits back then. Armed bandits and criminals have been known to target donkey carts, camel carts, and ox carts. Bandits would steal the merchandise and flee into the bush along our trading routes. That is only one aspect of the problem. Other times, the bandits would raid rural settlements and villages, murdering and destroying property. The bandits would destroy nearly everything in their path during such raids, including riches, farm produce, and so on. This subculture existed before the arrival of colonialists in northern Nigeria (Jaafar, 2018, p.2). Banditry has a long history in northwestern Nigeria, according to The Humanitarian (2018), with the first reported incident occurring in 1901 somewhere between western Hausa country and the Niger border, when a 12,000-strong camel caravan carrying various grains was attacked and 210 merchants were slaughtered. Although banditry has existed for as long as Nigeria has, The Humanitarian (2018) shows that its scope and depth have grown since its inception. Due to Nigeria's current security dialectics, groups of criminals, typically adolescents from farming and herding communities and/or local bandits, plunder villages, engage in highway robbery, and rustle cattle for personal gain (Bagu and Smith, 2017).

1.2 Statement of the Study

The complicated pattern of language diversity and the news about bandits can convey more than we grasp. It is a Nigerian problem that we must address together. Linguists are interested in insurgency speeches and publications because language is a fantastic resource that gives all language users many opportunities. Participants in the insurgency are urged to speak up. In Nigeria, both the government and rebel sides employ language effectively in a range of conflict scenarios. Therefore, the current study is intended to study a pragmatics analysis of language use in selected Nigerian Newspaper Headlines reportage.

1.3 Aim and Objectives of the Study

This study aims to conduct a pragmatic analysis of chosen newspaper headlines about banditry. As a result, the research aims to meet the study's goal with the following objectives:

i. Determine the kinds of elocutionary acts used in the headlines.

ii. Determine the illocutionary acts in each headline.

iii. Determine possible perlocutionary acts embedded in the headlines.

1.4 Research Questions

i. What is the type of locutionary act used in the headlines?

ii. What is the illocutionary act in the headlines?

iii. What is the perlocutionary act used in the headlines?

Literature Review and Conceptual Clarifications

Language usage in the media as a tool for communicating with the general public differs from language usage in other industries in several ways. "Everything that happens to be printed in a newspaper or written by a journalist is not going to be linguistically homogeneous," Davy and Crystal. This is to imply that because newspaper headlines are worded differently, they reveal more information than they are intended to convey. Furthermore, Crystal and Davy argue that there is no reason to presume such "homogeneity" because, due to their creative character, newspapers are often highly different. Because of the diversity of print and online media terminology, meanings and interpretations vary. There is a lot of journalese out there in many shapes and purposes, and this particular use of language aids readers in understanding sociologically focused content. According to Taiwo (2004), one thing to consider when reading press articles is prejudice. In most cases, a newspaper's political ideology determines its opinions, i.e. which political party, ideology, and socioeconomic policies it supports. In contrast, bias does not have to be political. Journalists' reporting on certain persons, places, and organizations may be prejudiced. Several journalists have been accused of bias for failing to offer a balanced viewpoint in a report. In general, media literature depicts societal and socio-cultural themes by addressing the following questions: what, why, who, when, where, and how.

Language and media can also be researched using media linguistics, which is the linguistic study of language use in the media. The fact that media text is now one of the most widespread types of language is an important component of media linguistics, which is a new systematic way to study media language. Khodjayorov Malik, Berdimurodovich (2022-04-30). It investigates the role of language in the media domain, as represented by print, audiovisual, digital, and networked media. Language use is considered an interaction between social and cognitive communication processes in media linguistics. Media linguistics, like psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, developmental linguistics, legal linguistics, and political linguistics, is a subfield of linguistics. Modern media linguistics is the study of media written language as well as media speech. The study of (1) the speech behaviour of participants in mass communication and (2) specific places, textures, and genres of media texts is known as media linguistics. Texts, as well as their production and reception, are studied in media linguistics. Martin Luginbuhl (2015). Monika Bednarek (2018). Thus, in general, media linguistics seeks to explain the unique example of language operating in mass communication with its complex structure and dynamic properties in the context of broader trends in language and speech culture. Hult, Francis M. (June 24, 2010). Language is studied about medium-specific variables such as the defining features of media texts or platforms, and multimodality analysis is used on occasion. Martin Luginbuhl (2015).

What is Pragmatics?

The term "pragmatics" is derived from the Greek word "pragma," which means "matter," "thing," and "action" (Linke, Nussbaumer, and Portmann, 1996). "Pragmatics is the study of language use that is concerned with the meaning of utterances rather than a grammatical sentence or proposition," Wales (1989, p. 365) points out. On the other hand, Yule (1996: 1) states that "Pragmatics is concerned with the study of meaning as communicated by a speaker (or writer) and interpreted by a listener (or reader)." Recent definitions of pragmatics include "the study of the meaning of words, phrases, and full sentences, and it is more concerned with the meaning that words convey when they are used, or with intended speaker meaning, as it is sometimes referred to" (Wisniewski, 2007). When specific utterances are used, specific meanings are obtained beyond the overt linguistic expression; yet, they are conveyed by linguistic codes. The purpose of this study is to highlight meaning outside of language by using some pragmatic theories and aspects, namely how pragmatic concerns are incorporated into the speech act, pragmatic act, and presupposition. Pragmatics is the study of how people communicate rather than what they say. The speakers' utterances are more important in communicating than the words or phrases themselves. Yule (1996:3) defines pragmatics as "the study of what people mean by their utterances rather than the study of what the words or phrases in those utterances might signify on their own." Speakers must pay careful attention to the context since pragmatics is inextricably linked to the context or setting in which something is expressed. Pragmatics, according to Leech (983: 6), is the study of meaning in connection to speech contexts. Yule (1996), according to Leech's statement, says that pragmatics should address context components such as who people are talking to, when, where, and under what conditions they will say it, and what they want to communicate.

According to Yule (1996:3), pragmatics is concerned with four areas:

1. Pragmatics is the study of the meaning of a speaker.

2. Pragmatics is the study of meaning in the context of speech.

3. Pragmatics is the study of effective communication rather than merely saying what you want to say.

4. Pragmatics is the study of how people communicate their relative distance to one another.

In general, we must be able to absorb the message of the utterances through pragmatics, which is being aware that the words or phrases contain more significance than the actual meaning of what is spoken. Pragmatics, according to Richard and Schmidt (2002), is "the study of the use of language in communication-related to sentences and the context and situations in which they are used."

Leech (1983) defines pragmatics as "the study of how utterances have meaning in situations," whilst Black More (1982) states that "pragmatics is concerned with the mental structure underlying the ability to interpret utterances in context." From the perspective of Kemson (1986), "pragmatics is the study of the general cognitive principles involved in the retrieval of information from an uttered sequence of words."

1. The topic of the speech

2. Communication ideas that are widely recognized

3. The speaker's objectives

In contrast, general pragmatics is the study of the principles that regulate the communicative use of language, particularly as manifested in conversation ideas, which may be explored as putative universals or limited to the study of a specific language. Pragmatics is the study of language from the perspective of language users, specifically decisions made, elements encountered in the cause of language usage in social interaction, and the effects of language use manifesting on another communicative participant. That is, pragmatics is the study of how utterances are used and interpreted in context; how the speaker-hearer link influences how sentences are formed as well as how the speaker uses and interprets speech activities.


Banditry is a redefinition of the term bandit, which refers to an unlawful armed gang that terrorizes and robs others. It is linked to the emergence of gangs that attack victims with small and light weapons. Banditry may refer to a planned illegal operation carried out for personal gain in this context. Because bandits' techniques are so complicated, Egwu (2016) defined banditry as "the practice of stealing cattle and animals from herders or raiding cattle from their ranches." Banditry manifests itself in cattle rustling, kidnapping, armed robbery, drug abuse, arson, rape, and the brazen and gruesome massacre of people from agrarian communities with sophisticated weapons by suspected herdsmen, as well as retaliation attacks from surviving victims (Uche&Iwuamadi, 2018). According to Shalangwa (2013), banditry is the practice of raiding and attacking victims, whether on purpose or not, by members of an armed gang with the intention of overwhelming the victim and collecting treasure or attaining some political goals. Outlaws, desperate and lawless marauders who travel the forest and mountains to avoid being identified, arrested, and imprisoned, are stereotypes of such bandits.

Bandits are individuals or groups who harass and rob locals and visitors of important commodities or property such as merchandise, money, cattle, camels, and sheep, among others, within and along rural borders with the help of local collaborators.

Another definition of banditry includes armed robberies or other violent crimes such as kidnapping, livestock rustling, and village or market raids, as well as using or threatening to use force to intimidate a person or group of people to loot, rape, or kill (Okoli &Okpaleke 2014). In this paper, banditry is defined as the totality of armed robberies or related violent crimes, such as kidnapping, cattle rustling, village raids, and highway raids, that involve the use of force, or the threat of force, to intimidate a person or group of people to rob, rape, kidnap, or kill the victims. Banditry is a horrific crime against humanity that is also a regular cause of violence in modern society (Nigeria Watch, 2011). The use of force or the fear of force, to terrify someone to rob, rape, or kill them is known as banditry. Furthermore, the term "bandit" (which entered English through Italian around 1590) derives from the early Germanic legal practice of prohibiting offenders known as *bannan (English ban), and the legal term in the Holy Roman Empire was AchtorReichsacht, which translates as "ban," and the modern Italian counterpart word "bandito" literally means "banned" or "a banned person."

The Newspaper

A newspaper is a monthly publication that provides written information about current events. Typically, it is written in black ink on a white or grey background. Opinion columns, weather predictions, reviews of local services, obituaries, birth announcements, crossword puzzles, editorial cartoons, comic strips, and advice sections are all common features in newspapers. The great majority of newspapers are for-profit enterprises that generate revenue via subscriptions, newsstand sales, and advertising. Newspapers are commonly used to represent publishing companies. Newspapers were traditionally printed (typically on low-quality, low-cost newsprint). Today, however, the majority of newspapers are also published as online newspapers on websites, and many have abandoned their print equivalents. Newspapers first appeared as business information sheets in the 17th century. Many communities in Europe, as well as North and South America, had newspapers by the early nineteenth century. Some newspapers are considered "newspapers of record" because of their editorial independence, great journalism, and massive circulation. It is acceptable to say that news editorials are inextricably linked to headlines.

News Headlines

News is defined as stories or information about social events "that are of interest to a sufficiently large group, or that may affect the lives of a sufficiently large group" (Reah, 1998:4). It is, however, influenced by the journalist's ideological perspective as well as the media organization for which the journalist works. The journalistic process includes "systematic sorting and selecting of events and topics according to a socially constructed set of categories" (Fowler, 1991:12). A news headline is the title of a news report that includes the entire topic. The main headline of a magazine or newspaper is usually on the first page. The headline, which is often shown in huge characters, summarizes the story's important themes. They take up more space than the texts they relate to, and essential words or phrases are highlighted or bolded. This is done to draw attention to a specific word or topic. The headline's words are usually brief and to the point. The vocabulary is impacted by the ideas to be expressed, printing technology, and the readership associated with the paper or magazine. Printing technology enables for customization of style, available space, and relevant photographs. Other considerations include simplicity, informality, and impact (Freeborn et al, 1986).

Austin (1962) and Searle (1969) define language or speech as doing particular tasks such as conveying a fact or opinion, confirming or rejecting, forecasting, warning, condemning, baptizing, promising, praising, or calming. When speakers or writers "do things with words," they are communicating the underlying purpose of the utterance, which is to make a promise, command, threat, critique, greeting, or announcement. Leech (1983). The headline is the most important piece of news in a newspaper, because it is what readers see at first, even if just briefly. Headlines aid in information clarification and reader motivation. Headlines are more than just summaries of news items; they are also functional components of stories that are pragmatically constructed to fulfil specific tasks while also contributing to social transformation and country growth. When editors encode facts in news stories, they do more than simply educate or report the truth; they also add an underlying or embedded meaning to it. Several research on newspaper headlines have been conducted. For example, one study looked into the use of ambiguity in speech as a pragma-stylistic tactic in newspaper headlines. Another study was conducted on the pragmatic analysis of Boko-Ham attack news in the Daily Trust and the Nation to detect the speech acts committed.

The most important part of headlines in media discourse, according to Bell (1991:189), is the sort of language used, how the headline writer or editor uses language to pique the reader's interest, and what speech acts they can use to deliver their message. According to Ungerel (2000:48), a headline in a few words captures the core of a news piece. It conveys information quickly and clearly while also capturing the reader's attention. Dor (2003:720) goes on to say that it is "a communicative device whose function it is to produce the optimal level of affinity between the story's content and the reader's context of interpretation." According to Fowler (1991:12), it is "a systematic sorting and selecting of events and topics according to a socially constructed set of categories."

Theoretical Framework: Speech Act Theory

A speech act is a genuine utterance in a communication setting. The theory is based on the work of British philosopher John Langshaw Austin (1911-1960), who worked at Oxford and expanded his views in a series of lectures given shortly before his death and published as How to Do Things with Words in 1962. Austin describes the Speech Act as a communicative utterance that fulfils a purpose. Austin was a member of the ordinary language philosophy school, which held that one of the primary tasks of language was to carry out socially significant activities. This explains his sensitivity to language use. Speech acts are accomplished by distinct verbs, and attempts have been made to classify them according to the sort of speech act. Austin starts by distinguishing between constative and performative verbs. The first category includes items that describe reality, such as rain. All weekend it poured heavily. Because they can be either true or incorrect, these phrases have truth value. Performative verbs differ from regular verbs. They assist two or more speakers in achieving an interactional aim. The verb promise is an unusual example because it is verbal. There is no work done in the phrase I promise to assist you with the task, but the speaker expresses a real desire to assist you shortly.

When we examine Austin's speech act theory from this angle, we see that he solved some key issues that have largely gone unnoticed. In general, post-Austin speech act theorists focus on understanding illocutionary acts in a limited sense. John Searle, a vociferous proponent of Austin's ideas, inherits and builds on parts of them (Searle 1969), but develops the theory in his way.

While speech act theory will be applied in this study, it is crucial to grasp the three critical instruments that will be utilized in analyzing selected Banditry newspaper headlines: locutionary act, illocutionary act, and perlocutionary act.

A locutionary act, also known as an utterance act or a locution, is the act of making a meaningful utterance, which is preceded by silence and followed by silence. The word elocutionary act was invented by J. L. Austin, a British philosopher, in his 1962 book "How to Do Things with Words." Austin's locutionary act concept was later supplanted by what Searle called the propositional act, or the act of expressing something. In linguistics, a locutionary act is the performance of a context or utterance. It is the most concentrated type of speech act. In other words, headlines are decoded based on context, especially these days.

Austin divides illocutionary acts into five categories: verdictives, exercitives, commissive, behabitives, and expositive. J.R. Searle, an American philosopher, expanded on Austin's ideas, emphasizing the importance of linking the uses of signals or expressions to their social context.

Searle's (1969) classification is based on the concept that Austin's classification is insufficient, and it is divided into five categories:

1. Assertive: By expressing, reporting, claiming, declaring, and so on, speakers commit to the reality of some assertions.

2. Directives: utterances used to achieve a purpose, such as asking, ordering, commanding, demanding, begging, and so on.

3. Commissive: speakers agree to do something in the future, such as promising, offering, swearing, and so on.

4. Expressive: the act of expressing a psychological state, such as thanking, apologizing, condoling, or cheering.

Declarations are speech acts, such as naming a ship, quitting, dismissing, accepting, and so on, whose effective performance results in the correspondence of propositional content and actuality.

Commanding, daring, nominating, resigning, threatening, warning, denouncing, rebuking, and other illocutionary acts are examples. Speech actions theory is primarily concerned with how interlocutors (speakers and listeners) comprehend one another despite the potential that they say what they do not mean and mean what they do not say (Lawal 2003).

The main charactership of perlocutionary statements is the effect on the addressee caused by or as a result of expressing anything.


The primary source of data was used to collect data for this research article. The information acquired for this study comes from an electronic source. The researchers searched online for numerous headlines published by the selected newspapers. The researchers also read the news extensively to help with the analysis. The selected headlines were collected from numerous newspaper publishers, including the Daily Trust, Daily Sun, Vanguard, and The Guardian. This study examined newspaper headlines from 2021 to 2023, focusing on headlines chosen at random from The Punch and The Guardian publications. Materials on the Speech Act theory were collected from authorized web sources to undertake a thorough assessment of the selected headlines using this theory.

Data Presentation and Analysis

Datum 1: Bandits storm Kaduna LGs and highways, killing eight people and kidnapping 20 others before stealing motorcycles.

Bandits have killed eight people in Kaduna State's Igabi, Chikun, and Zango-Kataf local government areas. The Punch, Wednesday, January 3, 2022. p.5

Datum 2: The bandit gale attack in Kaduna. The storm of attacks by bandits, now labelled as terrorists, in the Northwestern portion of the country, particularly Kaduna and Niger states, lasted all weekend, leaving bodies, fires, and the displacement of civilians in its wake.

The Guardian, 31 January 2022, p.2.

Datum 3: Insecurity: 10,366 people dead by 2021, Buhari promises reform in the N'East. The gale of banditry attacks, now characterized as frightening the Northwestern Part of the country, particularly Kaduna and Niger States, continued all weekend, leaving in its wake body, fire, and citizen displacement. 3 February 2021, The Guardian

Datum 4: Bandits kill 93 people in Zamfara; the government calls for self-defence and suspends the emir. Bandits have killed 93 persons in Kadawa village, Zurmi Local Government Area, Zamfara State, while injuring many more. The Punch, 12 June 2021. P. 8

In Kaduna, Niger, bandits kill dozens in new attacks.

At least ten people were killed in the center of relentless attacks suspected Fulani militia, and numerous residences were set on fire. The attackers opened fire on the Mawai community in Zaman Dabo Village in ZangonKataf Council in the early hours of yesterday. "Most of those killed were burned in their houses as they were also set of people were fast asleep at the time the gunmen struck," an eyewitness said. Chairman of ZangonKataf Local Council, Francis Angwa Sani, confirmed the attack. "At this time, I am unable to confirm the number of those killed because I am awaiting the official report."

The Guardian, 31 January 2022, p.2.

Datum 5: An inspector and two others are killed in Ogun when police fight bandits in a gun battle.

"At the end of the encounter, which lasted about 20 minutes, two of the bandits were shot dead while others escaped with gunshot injuries as SaalaOrile forest, Yewa North Local Government Council of Ogun State." OmolayoOlajide, a police inspector, was tragically killed during the gunfight.

The Guardian, 27 January 2022. P. 6

Datum 1: Locutionary Act: Bandits storm Kaduna LGs and highways, killing eight people and kidnapping 20 others before stealing motorcycles. The Punch, Wednesday, January 3, 2022. p.5

Assertive (Stating) the fact that the speakers used facts to back what they claimed. Expected Perlocutionary Effect: The criminals' actions cause dread and anxiety among Nigerians.

The preceding speech is used to ascertain the truth about a banditry situation. As a result, it is a powerful speaking performance. Anyone who reads/hears the utterance is aware of the bandit dilemma. The deeds of the Bandits are exposed to the readers. The utterance implies that the writer used language to carry out a specific action, namely information. This means that speakers perform actions with their words. In the speech, keywords, phrases, and idioms were used to reveal information with which the reader is already familiar. They are known as "bandits," "Raid Kaduna LGs, highway," "kill eight," "abduct 20 residents," and "steal motorcycles." The utterance possesses the following linguistic characteristics: Noun-bandits, the perpetrators of the action; they are often males armed with firearms; and professional assassins. This depicts the type of men who committed the crime. "Raid Kaduna LGs, highway" are the precise locations of the incident. This was mentioned as a vivid illustration. It also suggests that the reporter has all of the evidence to support his allegation. "Eight" is a numerical adjective indicating the number of abducted residents.

"Killed"- This is a performative verb that describes what the Bandits did. The speakers use verbs in their utterances to make the communication dynamic and intriguing. The speakers' purpose in each of these truth expositions is to communicate, assert, or affirm the reality that bandits raided, abducted, killed, and stole motorcycles. Overall, there is evidence of using words to achieve a goal, as stated by Searle.

Datum 2: LocutionaryAct: The bandit gale attack in Kaduna.

The Guardian, 31 January 2022, p.2.

Illocutionary Force-Assert (state) the truth about the bandit attack in Kaduna. Expected Perlocutionary Effect: The expected perlocutionary effect is that the hearers of the above utterance experience fear and worry. The audience may be convinced to be cautious in the condition. The above phrase is employed to confirm the truth condition; it is thus an assertive speech act. People are terrified and anxious after hearing this remark since it is hard to predict when and where such an attack will occur again.

The writer uses language as a tool to accomplish the activity of informing the reader of what the Bandits have done. This is an example of using words to accomplish a task. The speaker uses the utterance to inform. Linguistic features such as "the gale attack"-- are utilized as a noun phrase in the utterance and refer to the wild onslaught.

"By bandits" denotes the perpetrators of the gale attack, while "in Kaduna" denotes the location of the wild attack.

Datum 3: Locutionary Act: Insecurity: 10,366 murdered by 2021, Buhari promises reform in the N'East. 3 February 2021, The Guardian

Illocutionary Force-Assert (state) the truth regarding the number of individuals slain by bandits in the North East. Expected Perlocutionary Effect: Given the number of individuals slain by bandits in 2021, the expected perlocutionary effect is that the hearers of the above speech will experience fear and anxiety. The listeners may be persuaded to be cautious as well. The utterance above is used to declare the truth condition; it is thus an assertive speech act. The latter part of the statement, on the other hand, is expressive (promising).

The writer uses language as a tool to accomplish the action of informing the reader about what the Bandits have done to 10,366 persons in the North East. This is an example of using words to accomplish a task. The speaker uses the utterance to inform. Linguistic features such as "10,366"-this figure denotes the number of individuals slain and is a noun. "Killed" is the verb that tells the reader what the bandits did. "In 2021" denotes the year when 10,366 people were slain. The report concluded with the president promising a change in the situation in the North East.

Datum 4: Locutionary Act: After 93 people are killed by bandits in Zamfara, the government calls for self-defence and suspends the emir.

The Punch, 12 June 2021. P. 8

Assertive (Stating) the fact that the speakers used facts to back what they claimed.

Expected Perlocutionary Effect: The bandits' actions cause fear and anxiety among the residents of Zamfara. People were also instructed to take steps to defend themselves.

The above speech is employed to determine the truth about a banditry situation. As a result, it is a forceful speaking act. Anyone who reads or hears the phrase understands that bandits are causing a nuisance. The Bandits' actions are revealed to the readers. The utterance implies that the writer employed language to perform a specific action, namely informing. Keywords, phrases, and idioms were used in the utterance to expose information with which the reader is already familiar. They are as follows: "bandits", "kill", "93", and "in Zamfara". The following linguistic qualities are inherent in the utterance:

Noun- "bandits" are the perpetrators of crime; they are often males armed with firearms; professional killers also exist. This depicts the type of men who committed the crime. The precise location of the incidence was specified. It was mentioned as a vivid illustration. It also suggests that the reporter has all of the evidence to support his allegation.

"Kill" is a performative verb that tells the reader exactly what the Bandits did. The speakers use verbs in their remarks to make the discourse lively and engaging. In each of these truth expositions, the speakers' purpose is to communicate, assert, or affirm the reality that bandits killed 93 people in Zamfara while the government commanded locals to defend themselves. Overall, as established by Searle, there is evidence of using words to accomplish things.

Datum 5: Locutionary Act: Hundreds of people are killed by bandits in new attacks in Kaduna, Niger.

The Punch, June 12, 2021. P. 8

Assert (state) that the speakers used evidence to bolster the idea that bandits killed dozens of people in Kaduna during a new operation.

The Expected Perlocutionary Effect: The criminals' acts are bound to make people fearful and anxious. The utterance implies that the writer used language to carry out a specific action, namely information. This indicates that speakers do things with words.

Linguistic characteristics of the utterance include:

"In fresh attack" is a preamble that introduces the actors and what the players (bandits) did.

Noun: "bandits"- these are the actors who carried out the death of dozens of civilians in Kaduna State. These performers are, of course, of the male gender, with no notable record of females in their operations.

The verb "kill" refers to the deed carried out by the actors or bandits on dozens of people, while the term "in Kaduna" indicates the location of the incident, which explains the true nature of the utterance and makes it vivid.

4.3.1 Table 1: Frequency Distribution of Speech Act Types

Speech Act Frequency Percentage

Assertive 12 75%

Directive 0 0%

Commissive 0 0%

Expressive 2 12.5%

Declarative 2 12.5%

Total 16 100%

Discussion of Findings

As previously indicated, the current study's analytical instrument is the Speech Act theory, and the researcher witnessed three of Searle's (1969) speech actions manifesting. The analysis of the data revealed that all utterances had illocutionary activities. This means that the remarks delivered by the different speakers served a range of purposes. In terms of global macro-speech acts, the majority of the headlines picked and studied in this data showed intimidating and scary attempts made by government representatives and bandits' groups.

Furthermore, as seen in Figure 1, 75% of the news headlines were assertive, 0% were directive, 2% were expressive, and 2% were declarative. Finally, the findings of the study indicate that the majority of the headlines gathered, selected, and graded reflect aggressive speaking behaviour.

Bandit language is effective because it creates emotions in people, penetrates their thoughts, influences their emotions, and appears to represent profound reality. She concludes that "the language we use, and especially the speech acts we utter, are completely dependent on the context of the situation in which such acts are produced." The act of speaking by government officials and criminal organizations, or simply the presenting of a newspaper story, is intended to sway the thoughts of readers, listeners, or hearers in the desired direction. Every speaker has a certain style in which they deliver a speech to persuade the readers, listeners, or hearers. Through their illocutionary acts, the speakers in the analysis were engaging enough to change the readers'/listeners'/hearers' thinking, feelings, and behaviour. As a result, it is stated that every communication is a social act, and every social act has the potential to be persuasive. During banditry activities, speeches are given to counsel, teach, or scold as needed, as well as to bring people together to battle the banditry problem. In utterances, the audience is addressed. There is evidence that reading statements on banditry conversations without the participation of real-world consumers would be unpleasant. This implies that the expected impact may not materialize. Similarly, an utterance can be classified as multiple types of speaking acts.

The researcher also discovers that three of Searle's five speech act classifications were effectively reflected in the utterances during the analysis, indicating that they are appropriate for banditry conversations. At the perlocutionary level, the utterance has an impact or reaction on co-interlocutors. According to the research, the utterances employed in the headlines are a medium of language used to depict banditry issues. Logical remarks aiming at encouraging readers or listeners to banditry have caused a great deal of harm to society as a whole. People's hearts will be moved by the speaker's words and delivery style, inspiring them to take positive action. Language, according to the study, is everything in our daily lives. It is necessary for comprehending and interpreting discussions because it produces results in all settings. The ability to correctly use language can influence one's comprehension of a speech. Because language acts as a conduit for civilizations to communicate, mastery of the media as a tool becomes crucial.


After thoroughly examining the data in this work, the researcher finds that speech act analysis leads to the finding of messages, themes, and lessons hidden beneath banditry headlines. This study examines the analysis of banditry headlines using a speech act analysis. It is vital to show that this speech act theory gives proper tools for deciding how banditry headlines should be published or written to have a positive influence on readers/listeners. This was accomplished not just by assessing how each headline corresponded to each of the classifications, but also by calculating how motivating the phrase might be. Speeches allow us to interact with our country's leaders, listen to what they have to say, and then act on it. Speeches increase audience morale by displaying the speaker's best and worst qualities, which can have an impact on banditry, business, politics, world events, and other industries. Speakers choose and arrange words and sentences in speeches to achieve a certain aim and desired effect on the reader or listener. This is because informed citizens set the groundwork for good administration. Insurgents benefit from knowledgeable civilians, yet uneducated individuals pose a threat.



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