International Journal of Language & Linguistics

ISSN 2374-8850 (Print), 2374-8869 (Online) DOI: 10.30845/ijll

“Us” versus “Them” Ethnic Identity Construction in Nigerian Political Discourse
Chinwe Rose Ann Ezeifeka

This work interrogates observed exclusionist political discourses that tend to assign ethnic identities of “Us”/“Them” to mark Nigerian citizens in linguistically- and socially-constructed categories. Taking ethnicity as a sociolinguistic variable, the work specifically focuses on identified linguistic strategies and social motivations that arguably explain ethnic identity construction along lines of selective alignments and exclusion. Adopting van Dijk’s ideological square, Ukiwo’s social tendencies of ethnic identity construction and Reisigl and Wodak’s linguistic strategies for sustaining ethnic and racial othering, this paper analyses purposively sampled textual representations from online and print media texts. Qualitative analyses show exaggerated and contrived divisive social constructions for instrumental and spurious gains in the utterances of the political elite and ethnic stakeholders in Nigeria. The paper concludes that national rather than nepotistic considerations should drive the utterances of the power elite and apex ethnic leadership in working out synergistic avenues of harmonious interethnic understanding.

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