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A SPEECH ACT ANALYSIS OF DR.D.K. OLUKOYA'S SELECTED SERMONS

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  • mountain top university, Nigeria

Abstract

This article aims at examining the language of liturgy through the linguistic theory of speech acts. The focus of the study is to analyze speech acts in selected sermons of Dr. D.K. Olukoya, the General Overseer of Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries with the view to identify the acts that characterize the sermons and the role they play in influencing the perception of the audience. The study emphasises how the preacher conveys his intentions through the word of God to the congregation and identifies the most common speech acts that are manifested and used in the sermons. The sermons are downloaded from the internet and thirty sentences from three sermons of the ministry"s monthly programme known as Power Must Change Hands are selected from 2019 edition of the programme. The analysis is based on Searle"s (1969) categorization of speech acts and in order to get a thorough appreciation of the linguistic analysis, identification of the different speech acts has been carried out. The identification of illocutionary acts in the analysis reveals that the representative acts have the largest frequency than other illocutionary acts in the sermons. The findings reveal the dominance of representative illocutionary acts showing that the preacher conveys his messages by describing and stating what the audience needs to be aware of. Representative acts are used to describe and assert the truth-condition of the word of God and its infallibility while directive acts are used to make suggestions and expressive acts to reflect the preacher"s psychological state while delivering his sermons. The paper observes that the study of speech acts enhances the reader/listener"s understanding and give them more insight into the messages of the sermons. The study concludes that Dr.D.K. Olukoya carefully selects these speech forms to enhance his audience involvement and are deployed strategically to affirm his illocutionary intention and to trigger his desired response from the audience.
A SPEECH ACT ANALYSIS OF DR.D.K. OLUKOYA’S
SELECTED SERMONS
BY
1Oladejo, Tolulope Odunayo(PhD)
Department of Languages,
Mountain Top University,
Prayer City, Ibafo,
Ogun State
tooladejo@mtu.edu.ng
08060179965
1 Oladejo, T.O.( 2021) ‘’A Speech Acts Analysis of Dr. D.K.Olukoyas Selected Sermons’’ Language and
Literary Studies in Society: A Festchrift for Professor Eno Grace Nta. (University of Lagos Press), 297-
311
ABSTRACT
This article aims at examining the language of liturgy through the linguistic theory of speech
acts. The focus of the study is to analyze speech acts in selected sermons of Dr. D.K. Olukoya,
the General Overseer of Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries with the view to identify the
acts that characterize the sermons and the role they play in influencing the perception of the
audience. The study emphasises how the preacher conveys his intentions through the word of
God to the congregation and identifies the most common speech acts that are manifested and
used in the sermons. The sermons are downloaded from the internet and thirty sentences from
three sermons of the ministry‟s monthly programme known as Power Must Change Hands are
selected from 2019 edition of the programme. The analysis is based on Searle‟s (1969)
categorization of speech acts and in order to get a thorough appreciation of the linguistic
analysis, identification of the different speech acts has been carried out. The identification of
illocutionary acts in the analysis reveals that the representative acts have the largest frequency
than other illocutionary acts in the sermons. The findings reveal the dominance of representative
illocutionary acts showing that the preacher conveys his messages by describing and stating what
the audience needs to be aware of. Representative acts are used to describe and assert the truth-
condition of the word of God and its infallibility while directive acts are used to make
suggestions and expressive acts to reflect the preacher‟s psychological state while delivering his
sermons. The paper observes that the study of speech acts enhances the reader/listener‟s
understanding and give them more insight into the messages of the sermons. The study
concludes that Dr.D.K. Olukoya carefully selects these speech forms to enhance his audience
involvement and are deployed strategically to affirm his illocutionary intention and to trigger his
desired response from the audience.
Keywords: Speech Acts, Dr. D.K. Olukoya, Sermons, Illocutionary acts
INTRODUCTION
Sermons are delivered through language, and language is the only vehicle in accessing
the messages/ knowledge in the sermons. Sermons are primarily addressed to the audience unlike
prayers and songs which are mostly addressed to the Supreme God. Language is a powerful tool
for influencing people‟s behavior and character (Austin, 1962; Searle, 1975). It is the main tool
and means of communication by people. Communication on the one hand is a function of
language and it is carried out by speech in spoken language. Language, on the other hand,
changes from one speech community to another. Communication is a social activity and
invariably, speech is social. Speech, being the medium of communication, depends on the
linguistic knowledge and competence of the speaker. If a speaker is versatile in the use of a
language, he will be able to communicate effectively. Consequently, language is a vital
instrument which aids the communicative ability of the members of any given society. The
choice of language by a particular speaker serves as a viable instrument in passing across the
speaker‟s message. The language chosen by the speaker enhances the quality and effectiveness
and easy decoding of the message by the audience or hearer. It is important to note that the
choice and meaning of that language is valued when it is studied in the context in which it has
been used. Moreover, as meanings in speeches are being reshaped, it is necessary to investigate
the speech acts of some speeches via sermons as speech act refers to the use of language in
context to perform an action which involves the speaker and the force of his speech and the
effect it has on the hearer which determines what the speech act has been able to achieve. In
other words, a speech act is a communicative activity defined with reference to the intentions of
the speaker while speaking and the effects achieved on the listener (Crystal, 1992). Based on
this premise, this study therefore is based on speech acts analysis of Dr. D.K.Olukoya‟s selected
sermons.
LITERATURE REVIEW
Many linguists have worked on sermons from various linguistic perspectives and these
approaches have added significance to the general commentary on the language of religion.
Some of the linguists who have contributed immensely to the sermon discourse include:
Odebode and Dabi (2015)‟s Speech Acts in Billboard Messages of the Redeemed Christian
Church of God, Redemption Camp, Nigeria: A Pragmatic Study. Their study deals with an
exploration of the speech act theory as proposed by Austin (1962) with a view to examine its
presupposition, inference and implicature in order to account for its total meaning.
This study is similar to our research in terms of the theory adopted ( Speech Acts) but
different because this present research is based on Searle‟s 1969 Speech Acts Theory on Selected
Sermons of Dr. D.K. Olukoya and not billboard messages. Safwat(2015) examines Speech Acts
in Political Speeches using The Speech Act Theory as classified by Searle‟s (1969). He discovers
that politicians communicate directly with the general public in order to convince them of their
programs or ideas. He concludes that the speech act analysis of the political speeches provides
the understanding that political leaders perform various acts through their speeches. This study is
different from the present research because the present research is on religious discourse while
Safwats research is on political discourse. Adedun and Mekiliuwa, (2010) in „Discourse
Features and Patterns in a Nigerian Pentecostal Christian Sermon‟, examine the discourse
strategies employed by the preacher in communicating biblical truths.
Idowu‟s (2007) study of the sermon is from text-discourse approach, which is on
Nigerian Christian homilies. Another linguistic approach to the study of sermons is Onoja‟s
(2010) stylistic features of the language of sermons. Inya (2012) also examines the pragmatic
acts in contemporary Christian apologetics by investigating the Generic Structure Potential of the
discourse.
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The present study is a speech act analysis of Dr. D.K. Olukoya‟s Selected Sermons. In
order to achieve this aim, the following are the objectives of the study:
To identify specific speech act features of the selected sermons.
To analyze and explain the features in the sermons.
To describe how the identified features project the message in the sermons.
THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
SPEECH ACTS
The Speech Act Theory developed from Austin‟s (1962) work: How to do things with
words forms the basis of this present study. This idea was further developed by Searle (1969)
who became one of the major proponents of the theory. According to Austin, a speaker utters a
sentence to perform some acts which he calls speech acts. Speech is premised on the fact that
people perform various actions through the use of words and when utterances are made, a
particular act is performed; this is called Speech Act. Speech Acts according to Austin (1962)
fall into three classes, which are: locutionary, illocutionary, and perlocutionary acts.
A locutionary act is an act of saying something; that is, the act of producing an utterance.
This is referred to as uttering a sentence with certain sense and reference or linguistic meaning.
For example: Don't eat that piece of candy‟; “I am hungry”; „Come here. Illocutionary acts are
the core of any theory of speech acts. The illocutionary act is an act of performing some action in
saying something such as giving information, warning, issuing a threat, request etc. This is
realized, according to Austin (1962) as the successful realization of the speaker‟s intention,
which for Searle (1969) is a product of the listener‟s interpretation. For example: Kindly lend
me some money!‟; We congratulate you on your appointment‟; „What is your name?‟etc.
The perlocutionary act is the effect or influence on the feelings, thoughts or actions of the
listener/hearer. Perlocutionary acts refer to the effect of the utterance of the speaker on the
hearer i.e., what the speaker is able to achieve by saying something such as convincing,
persuading, inspiring, consoling, etc. it brings about an effect upon the beliefs, attitudes or
behaviors of the addressee.
Hence, Searle (1969) categorizes the illocutionary acts into five classes:
(1) Assertives: According to him, “the point or purpose of the members of the Assertive class is
to commit the speaker (in varying degrees) to the truth of the expressed proposition, e.g., stating,
claiming, reporting, announcing, etc.
(2) Directives: these are statements that compel or make another person‟s action fit the
propositional element. It is usually used to give order thereby causing the hearer to take a
particular action of advising, admonishing, asking, begging, dismissing, excusing, forbidding,
instructing, ordering, permitting, requesting, requiring, suggesting, urging, warning, etc.
(3) Commissives: Commit speakers to some future actions, e.g., promising, offering, swearing,
etc. to do something, congratulating, greeting, thanking, accepting ,etc.
(4) Expressives: This is the expression of the speaker‟s psychological state, e.g., thinking,
apologizing, congratulating, etc.
(5) Declaratives: These statements are used to say something and make it so, such as
pronouncing someone guilty, resigning, dismissing, accepting, declaring a war, etc.
RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
In this research, three selected sermons of Dr. D.K. Olukoya‟s Power Must Change
Hands Programme - a monthly based programme of Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries,
2019 edition are selected. The selected sermons are downloaded from the internet and are
analyzed to reveal the speech acts performed in the course of delivering the sermons. The
linguistic approach adopted is based on the linguistic framework of Speech Acts Theory of
Searle (1969). The selected sermons vary in length and number of sentences. Specific sentences
from the sermons are extracted; thirty sentences are selected from the three sermons. In the
course of analysis, the three sermons selected are labeled A, B, C. The numbers of extracted
sentences from each sermon are ten; therefore, we have A---10, B---10 and C--10. This is done
for clarity and easy comprehension of the analysis. The calculation of the percentages of the
speech acts in the sermons is employed so as to make interpretation of the tables clear and
empirical.
ANALYSIS OF SPEECH ACTS IN DR. D.K. OLUKOYA’S SELECTED SERMONS
DATA A. JANUARY 2019 POWER MUST CHANGE HANDS
Data A1
Locution: Certain problems are deep, certain afflictions are deep, certain problems are surface in
nature.
Illocutionary Acts: Representative
Perlocutionary Effect: Awareness
Data A2
Locution: Like I said last week, that when you see problems as Christians, the first thing needed
to be visualized is tree.
Illocutionary Acts: Directive
Perlocutionary Effect: Enlightenment
Data A3
Locution: A tree has stem, it has leaves, branches and fruit.
Illocutionary Act: Representative
Perlocutionary Effect: Enlightenment
Data A4
Locution:When you battle all these things and you ignore the root, the problems will come back.
Illocutionary Act: Representative
Perlocutionary Effect: Warning
Data A5
Locution: When you work on the root, you obtain deep deliverance.
Illocutionary Acts: Directive
Perlocutionary Effect: Hopefulness
Data A6
Locution: The problem of most of our problems is either you didn‟t deal with the root.
Illocutionary Acts: Representative
Perlocutionary Effect: Awareness
Data A7
Locution: Deep problems need deep prayers, strange problems need strange prayers, wicked
problems need wicked prayers.
Illocutionary Effect: Directive
Perlocutionary Effect: Enlightenment
Data A8
Locution:Whether you are here, and you‟re once told that when you‟re born again and there is no
more problem, you‟re a celebrated joker
Illocutionary: Commissive
Perlocutionary: Warning
Data A9
Locution : Your salvation does not exempt you from the battle of life.
Illocutionary Acts: Representative
Perlocutionary Effect: Warning
Data A10
Locution: Until so many understand the mystery of deep deliverance and prayers; one may suffer
from cradle to the grave.
Illocutionary Act: Representative
Perlocutionary Effect: Enlightenment
DATA B. POWER MUST CHANGE HANDS OF FEBRUARY 2019
Data B1
Locution: There are certain questions that we need to ask.
Illocutionary Act: Directive Act
Perlocutionary Effect: Inspiring
Data B2
Locution: Questions that we need to confirm from the word of God.
Illocutionary Act: Directive Act
Perlocutionary Effect: Inspiring
Data B3
Locution: Certainly, the word of God has told us that one name of God is the Lord Sabbaoth, it
means the Lord of Hosts.
Illocutionary Act: Representative Act
Perlocutionary Effect: Awareness
Data B4
Locution: The Lord Himself said He is the Man of war, when war starts weapons are needed.
Illocutionary: Representative Act
Perlocutionary: Hopefulness and Enlightenment
Data B5
Locution: The Bible says the weapons of our own warfare are not carnal but are mighty through
God to the pulling down of strongholds, casting down every imagination, every high thing that
exalteth itself against the knowledge of God and bringing into captivity every thought to the
obedience of Christ; by using these weapons.
Illocutionary Act: Representative Act
Perlocutionary: Encouragement
Data B6
Locution: We have holy weapons; we have weapons that we must use as a child of God.
Illocutionary: Directive Act
Perlocutionary : Encouragement
Data B7
Locution: We are being foolish to think that that the enemy has no weapon.
Illocutionary Act: Expressive Act
Perlocutionary Effect: Warning
Data B8
Locution: The Bible says we should not be ignorant of the devices of the devil.
Illocutionary Act: Representative Act
Perlocutionary Effect: Enlightenment
Data B9
Locution: I pray for anybody reading this, that has been forced into darkness and has been
oppressed, receive deliverance in the name of Jesus.
Illocutionary Act: Directive Act
Perloctionary Effect: Hopefulness
Data B10
Locution: Can powers of darkness work signs and wonders, the bible says yes. It has happened
before and is still happening.
Illocutionary Act: Directives
Perlocutionary Effect: Inspiring
DATA C: Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries Power Must Change Hands Program
for MARCH 2019
Data C1
Locution: There are prayers that can open; there are prayers that can close.
Illocutionary Act: Representative
Perlocutionary Effect: Awareness
Data C2
Locution: When God opens a door, no man can close it.
Illocutionary Act: Representative Act
Perlocutionary Effect: Encouragement
Data C3
Locution: When God closes a door, no man can open it.
Illocutionary Act: Representative Act
Perlocutionary Effect: Encouragement
Data C4
Locution: Prayer can destroy, after all Jesus came to destroy, for the cause, the son of God was
made manifest.
Illocutionary Act: Commissive Act
Perlocutionary Effect: Warning
Data C5
Locution: Prayer can recover, it can pursue, overtake, terrify, animate, blind (There are
occasions in the bible, that blind prayers were said). Elisha, Paul, prayed blind prayers.
Illocutionary Act: Representative Act
Perlocutionary Effect: Awareness
Data C6
Locution: Many pray, and many dont understand that a man can be faced with five battles
because he does not have a prophet, he cannot discern this is battle 1, battle 2 e.t.c.
Illocutionary Act: Representative Act
Perlocutionary Effect: Inspiring
Data C7
Locution: He prays general prayers and life remains stagnant.
Illocutionary Act: Representative
Perlocutionary Effect: Awareness
Data C8
Locution: The awesomeness of the power of prayer is yet to be revealed to this generation.
Illocutionary Act: Representative
Perlocutionary Effect: Inspiring
Data C9
Locution: The time will come, that the most important thing you need in this world is for God to
answer your prayers.
Illocutionary Act: Commissive Act
Perlocutionary Effect: Warning
Data C10
Locution: The tragedy of our days is not unanswered prayers: *It is unoffered prayers!*
Illocutionary Act: Expressive Act
Perlocutionary Effect: Warning
Table 1- Illocutionary Acts of Data (A)
Illocutionary Act
Number of Utterances
Percentage
Representative Acts
6
60%
Directive Acts
3
30%
Commissive Acts
1
10%
Table 2- Illocutionary Acts of Data (B)
Illocutionary Act
Number of Utterances
Percentage
Representative Acts
4
40%
Directive Acts
5
50%
Expressive Acts
1
10%
Table 3 Illocutionary Acts of Data (C)
Illocutionary Act
Number of Utterances
Percentage
Representative Act
7
70%
Commissive Act
2
20%
Expressive Act
1
10%
Table 4 Summary of Tables 1, 2 and 3
Illocutionary Act
Number of Utterances
Percentage
Representative Acts
17
57%
Commissive Acts
3
10%
Expressive Acts
2
6%
Directive Acts
8
27%
In table 4, the simple percentage is used to calculate the number of speech act classes divided by
the total number of utterances. The results of the various speech act utterances are summarized in
the chart below:
Figure1: shows the percentage occurrence of speech acts from the data.
The above figure summarizes the percentage occurrence of the different speech act utterances in
the analysed data. The percentage differences among the speech acts are summarized as follows:
The commissive and expressive speech act utterances have the lowest percentage of 10% and 6%
each, followed by the directive speech acts with 27%. The representative speech acts have the
highest percentage of 57%. Our data therefore reveals that the representative speech acts are
mostly used in sermons where the speakers will describe vividly what the word of God means to
the audience. The speaker also uses representative speech acts to assert the truth condition of the
word of God by stating, reporting and announcing the message of the Good news of Christ to the
audience.
DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS
This study investigates the selected sermons of Dr D. K. Olukoya, the General Overseer
of Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries from the Ministry‟s Monthly Programme called
Power Must Change Hands. The study selects the first three months of the programme in Year
2019 and analysed ten sentences from each sermon to make a total of thirty sentences. The data
are analyzed based on the type of speech acts proposed by John Searle. The following are the
explanations of the sermons based on the data.
REPRESENTATIVES ACTS (Asserting, Stating, Concluding, Boasting, Describing, and
Suggesting) Based on the data analysed, we discovered that there were several sentences of
Representative Acts. From the analysed data, there were seventeen sentences belonging to this
type of speech act. Representative Acts have the highest frequency and percentage in both data A
and C: 60% and 70% respectively and 40% in data B. From figure 1, representative speech acts
has the highest percentage occurrence of 57% from the three data analysed. These are some of
the sentences: He prays general prayers and life remains stagnant; When God closes a door, no
man can open it; There are prayers that can open; there are prayers that can close; The Bible
says we should not be ignorant of the devices of the devil; The awesomeness of the power of
prayer is yet to be revealed to this generation. These utterances above belonged to representative
type of speech act because all of them deal with the truth of an expressed proposition. Most of
those utterances are in form of stating and describing.
COMMISIVES ACTS- These acts expressed what the speaker intends to do. The study found
out that there were only three sentences belonging to this type of act from the data analysed . In
data A, there was only one frequency of 10% percentage and no occurrence of the act in data B
while in data C, there were only two occurrences of 20%. Examples of Commissives acts from
the data are the following: The time will come, that the most important thing you need in this
world is for God to answer your prayers; Prayer can destroy, after all Jesus came to destroy,
for the cause, the son of God was made manifest. Whether you are here, and you’re once told
that when you’re born again and there is no more problem, you’re a celebrated joker. These
utterances above belonged to commissive type of speech act. The speaker uses commissive
speech acts in his sermon to alert and warn his audience on what is expedient for them to know.
Most of those utterances are in form of warning.
DIRECTIVE ACTS This type of acts relate to the effort of speaker that the hearer will do
certain action after hearing the utterance. It was discovered that eight utterances in the selected
sermons are included in directives speech type. Some of them are: Can powers of darkness work
signs and wonders? The bible says yes. It has happened before and is still happening; When you
work on the root, you obtain deep deliverance; I pray for anybody reading this, that has been
forced into darkness and has been oppressed, receive deliverance in the name of Jesus; We have
holy weapons; we have weapons that we must use as a child of God. Questions that we need to
confirm from the word of God. These are statements that compel or make another person‟s action
fit the propositional element. It is usually used to give order thereby causing the hearer to take a
particular action, request, command or advice. Most of those utterances analysed in this speech
act category are in form of command, question and advise.
EXPRESSIVE ACTS: These are kind of speech acts that states what the speaker feels. It was
discovered from the data analysed that there were two utterances in the category of expressive
speech acts. These are: We are being foolish to think that that the enemy has no weapon; The
tragedy of our days is not unanswered prayers: *It is unoffered prayers!*. It has the lowest
occurrence in the analysed data. The expressive acts denote the speaker‟s state of mind of being
bothered about the situation of the audience.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
The study has examined selected sermons of a Dr. D.K.Olukoya, the General Overseer of
Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries. The study is based on Searle‟s (1969) speech act
classification. The identification of speech acts types in sermons goes a long way in ascribing
meanings to the sermons. Searle‟s speech acts were used in this study to examine thirty
utterances/ sentence from the three selected sermons of Dr.D.K. Olukoya. They were used to
examine the frequency of occurrences of each of the individual speech acts used in the sermons
during the ministry‟s monthly special programme called „Power Must Change Hands.‟ The study
revealed that the representative speech act has the highest frequency of occurrence with 57%,
followed by the directive and commissive acts, which have both 27% and 10% respectively,
while the expressive speech acts have the lowest percentage occurrence 6%. We can infer based
on the analyzed data, that the representative speech act is essentially used to disseminate the
message/ the Good news of Jesus Christ to the congregation. Christian preachers know the
essence of language in describing, stating, warning, asserting, commanding, etc. and are
therefore meticulous in their choice of words in driving home their points and messages by
making judicious use of the language to achieve these purposes.
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Language is the most common tool of communication as it plays vital role in helping people build a bridge of relationship. On one hand, it is an essential factor for all traders and their customers. Communication is on the other hand, fundamental to the existence and survival of individuals, groups, societies, and nations, as human communication is a social interaction process and without communication, barriers in business conversations will arise especially from inappropriate communication strategies adopted by interlocutors. This paper unravels language barriers to business communication in Mowe town of Ogun State, Nigeria and linguistic strategies employed by traders and their customers in the town in their effort to counter the challenges. The paper is based on research carried out in selected businesses within Mowe town of Ogun State. The study is hinged on John Searle (1975)"s Speech Acts Theory. The study used purposeful sampling method where 80 respondents were sampled within the central business district of Mowe town. The study is qualitative and is aimed at exploring the factors that cause language barriers and their impact on effective communication in Entrepreneurship. Methods of data collection used include questionnaire, participant"s observation and interview. The study observed that many customers in the town use their mother tongues in communicating with traders who do not speak their mother tongues which led to breakdown in communication between the customers and the traders. The study concluded that language barriers arise from different subjects such as meanings and uses of words, symbols, images, gestures, languages and dialects.
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Several studies have existed on various aspects of advertisement billboards and stickers, using different scholastic approaches. But none, to the best of our knowledge, has delved into the pragmatic analysis of religious billboards in The Redeemed Christian Church of God, Redemption Camp, Nigeria. This study is an attempt at filling this gap. The study is based on Austin's (1962) Speech Act theory. Seventeen billboards which were purposively selected served as our data. The data were analysed based on the theory in order to validate the following research questions: What are the pragmatic elements inherent in the billboards? What types of speech acts are preponderant in the billboards? Can we establish that the billboards communicate meaningful messages to the worshippers? The study indicated a preponderance of the illocutionary acts of informing and advising and demonstrated that the billboards are inundated with various meaning-making strategies which enhance their multifarious interpretations.
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Thesis (Ph. D.)--Indiana University, 1982. Vita. Includes bibliographical references (leaves [204]-211).
Searle"s Speech Act Theory: An Integrative Appraisal
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Acheoah, J. E. (2017) Searle"s Speech Act Theory: An Integrative Appraisal. American Research Journal of English and Literature;Volume 3, 2017; pp:1-13
Aspects of a Stylistic Theory and the Implications for Practical Criticism
  • Adebayo Lawal
Lawal, Adebayo (2012). "Aspects of a Stylistic Theory and the Implications for Practical Criticism." In Adebayo Lawal (ed.), Stylistics in Theory and Practice. Ilorin: Applied Linguistics Study Group (ALSG), University of Ilorin, p. 38.
Pragmatics An Introduction
  • L Geoffrey
Geoffrey, L. (1983). Principles of Pragmatics, New York: Longman Mey, L. Jacob,(1993) Pragmatics An Introduction, (Oxford/Malden. MA: Blackwell Publishers, p. 111