Modality versus Performativity in Ghanaian Newspaper Editorials

Abstract

This paper takes a look at how modal and lexical verbs are used to perform speech functions in the editorials of two Ghanaian newspapers. It establishes what speech acts are performed by the editors using the modal elements the paper sets out to look at. The primary focus of this discussion is to establish which speech acts are performed with the modal elements under consideration for this study. The study has as its background theories such as Austin’s Speech Acts, and Context-Dependency and Lexical Specialisation of Kratzer (1981). The study examined three of the central modal auxiliaries and lexical verbs in thirty editorials of the two Ghanaian newspapers under review, The Daily Graphic and The Ghanaian Times from February to March 2016. This exploration was done with the aim of identifying the distribution of modal auxiliaries and lexical verbs and their speech acts in the data. An interesting finding is that the use of will, should, must dominate the other modals in expressing speech acts. The modal auxiliaries mostly help in passing on information. In some few instances, however, some strong deontic modal auxiliaries such as must and should were identified to be expressing a command.The most frequent being must expressing obligation. With regards the modal lexical verbs, the editors are indiscriminate in their choice. It is observed that every lexical verb is worthy enough to perform speech acts.

Keywords: : Modality, Ghanaian, Newspapers, Performativity


Article Review Status: Published

Pages: 15-34 (Download PDF)

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