Verbal hygiene and ethnic politics in Nigeria: a study of selected newspaper print and online publications

  • Matthew Chinenye Nnuta
  • Chinwe Ezeifeka


The work investigates verbal hygiene as fundamental towards achieving unity, conflict resolution and sustainable development in a linguistically, ethnically, culturally and politically diversified Nigerian society. It tries to establish a connection between verbal hygiene and persistent implosion of ethnic conflicts in Nigeria and the debilitating consequences of such on virtually all strata of national development. Data were collected using purposive sampling technique from select Nigerian newspapers and other textual sources like television and social media broadcast that showcase the speeches of opinion leaders from different ethnic groups in Nigeria. The collected data were textually analyzed through the lens of Politeness Theory of Brown and Levinson. It was found that a strong relationship exists between poor verbal hygiene, hate speech, electoral violence and ethnicity in Nigeria. This work also found out that the speeches of most opinion leaders analysed in this work are impolite and verbally unhygienic and as such impede the positive face of people from opposing ethnic groups, this constitutes serious threat to inter-ethnic relation and cohesion. The researchers recommend that every user of the English language in Nigeria must strive to use language consciously to achieve mutual understanding and peaceful co-existence.


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eISSN: 1597-474X