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Discourse Analysis of Amma Darko Faceless

Discourse Analysis of Amma Darko Faceless

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1.1 background to the study

The debate on the choice of language to be adopted by literary writers of African descent has dominated discourse over the years. Most of those writers who belong to the school of thought which says that African literary writers should write in their mother tongue argue that writing in their native language is imperative because cultural subtleties and meanings are lost in translation. For these writers, a “foreign” language can never fully describe their culture.

Language serves as a means of communication and it is one of the tools employed by all fields of human endeavour especially areas where speech is vital for the smooth running of activities. The mere fact that man needs language to communicate with other humans alike, makes language a part of human exercise. English can be referred to as the language that has gained international recognition and Nigeria is not spared the influence of this language.

English is a non-native language in Nigeria because it is not the language of any particular ethnic group in the country. Spencer (1991) in Banjo (1995) states that language has been used in Nigeria since the 16th century and was institutionalised in the 19th century during the Colonial era. Bamgbose (1995) identifies five dimensions of the influence of English in the Nigerian environment: educational, political, cultural, sociolinguistic and linguistic as having contributed to the modification of the language in the Nigerian environment and the thereby, placing it in its present status which can stand alongside World Englishes.

Jowitt (1995) looks into the National Language question with the hope that indigenous languages will challenge the pre-eminence of English in domains of government and higher education whilst noting that English language in Nigeria has variants that enjoy a relationship with the Nigerian culture. It could be said that this may have been possible through its contact with Nigerian Languages and has thereby reached an extent in which “each creatively, influences the other” -ibid.

Thus, the language has gradually risen in its status especially in relation to the indigenous languages. It is now a popular linguistic discourse to refer to the English language in Nigeria in terms such as „first’, ‘second’, „foreign’ or ‘official’.

Discourse analysis (DA) is a broad field of study that draws some of its theories and methods of analysis from disciplines such as linguistics, sociology, philosophy and psychology. More importantly, discourse analysis has provided models and methods of engaging issues that emanate from disciplines such as education, cultural studies, and communication and so on.

The vast nature of discourse analysis makes it impossible for us to discuss all that the reader needs to know about it in an introductory work of this nature. However, the chief aim of this chapter is to introduce the reader to some of the basic terms and concepts involved in discourse analysis. The reader is also introduced to some of the approaches to linguistic study of discourse.

The analysis of discourse is the analysis of language in use. Language is used to perform many communicative functions. According to Bennett (1976), communication is a matter of a speaker seeking either to inform a hearer of something or to enjoin some action upon him. Language serves two major functions; transactional function and interactional function.

Transactional function means the use of language to transmit factual or propositional information. This function has enabled human beings to develop different cultures, laws, literatures, etc. Interactional language is used to establish and maintain social relationships and common grounds. Discourse is defined by Seidel (1985:44) as “a terrain, a dynamic linguistic and, above all, semantic space in which social meanings are produced or challenged”. Spoken discourse is regarded as a form of text, since an analysis of discourse, most of the time, is an analysis of fragment pieces of information.


Dressler (1981: 7) regarded discourse as one genre of text that forms a fairly complete unit and is usually restricted to successive utterances of a single speaker trying to convey a message. He defines text as the communicative occurrence that meets seven standards of textuality which are cohesion, coherence, intentionality, acceptability, informativity, situationality, and intertexuality. Spoken Discourse, including political discourse, is usually delivered by an affective speaker. Affective speakers have the advantage of voice quality affects as well as facial expressions and postural or gestural system.

Discourse Analysis of Amma Darko Faceless

The effectiveness of the critical discourse analysis (CDA) is based on its ability to challenge writers’ position where the investigation is centered on his ability to perceive things when the same text could have been represented in some other way. This common sense of the writer is viewed as the sum of the individual’s social experience, which varies from culture to culture (Qianbo, 2016).

With this, one of the primary theorists in CDA is Norman Fairclough. The CDA framework provided by Fairclough infuses two primary discourse structures, i.e., internal and external relations (Qianbo, 2016). According to Teo (2000), “CDA unlock the ideologies and recover the social meanings expressed in discourse” (p. 11). He used the term discourse to refer it as ‘a language in use, where discourse is an action conducted by social agents, and at other times as different discourses employed in different settings such as medical discourse, media discourse, and others’ (Jorgensen & Phillips , 2002).

Furthermore, this term also refers to a bigger term, including different types of discourses such as liberal discourse, racist discourse, etc. Factors affecting the use of language include; motivation, capabilities, given data, and the intention of the individual. The text alone cannot explain the ideological effects and the power relations possessed by the discourse (Fairclough, 2003).

In addition to the usual modals like ‘should’ and ‘must,’ other verbs such as ‘think’ and ‘believe’ had to be analyzed too. The word ‘belief’ conveys a stronger stance than the modal ‘thinks’ (Badran, 2002). The voices can be interpreted by the readers according to either a previous experience with the utterance or any knowledge of the utterance, which might have been gained more recently (Bakhtin, 2010).

Literature has been commonly used since the eighteenth century; it has been applied to those works of poetry, prose, fiction and drama. It designates also any other writing including philosophy, history, and even scientific works addressed to a general audience. It may be classified according to a variety of systems including language, national origin, historical period, genre and subject matter.

These classifications give rise to the fact that literature is a universal phenomenon. The term literature falls into two major types: oral and written, where the oral includes ballads, myths, folktales, etc. There are various types of literature across the world, which includes English literature, African, French, American, and Canadian etc. English literature here refers to the body of written works produced in English language. While this word. “African literature” Suggests literature of the blacks and consists of the past histories of black Africans and their culture. It also comprises body of works and genres about African values and cultures.

African literature, consists of a body of work in different languages and various genres, ranging from oral literature to literature written in colonial languages. Emenyonu (1971) posits that African literature has come to mean several things to several people. To some critics it is a tool for the literate African’s arrogation of the essence of his cultural heritage – an assertion and at times an imposition of the contents and excellence of a black culture on a white dominated world.

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Scholars assert that it is simply a political document of protest against the assumptions of colonialism and imperialism as they relate to the world of the black man, for example Amma Darko’s Faceless uses language to portray a clear picture of a street child, Fofo who earns her livelihood by washing vegetables and pick pocketing. She befriends another street child, Odarley and together they brace themselves for the harsh treatment of the streets.

Fofo is nearly raped by Poison (the street lord) and is left with many unanswered questions. She is later hit with a blow of the death of her sister Baby T who is brutally murdered and dumped at the market square. This tragic loss leads her into the pursuit of justice and vengeance for the death of Baby T. After the perseverance of MUTE and Sylv Po, an epidemic is uncovered and the details of the fate of thousands of street children are laid bare. The work, Faceless by Amma Darko hinges on the victimization of the female folk by the domineering influence of masculinity.

The patriarch society which the work presents to us shows great imbalance in the way and manner the females fare in the story vis-a-vis their male counterparts. With focus on the heroine of the work, Fofo, we realise how the spate of poverty in the society where the woman is left to provide for her children, forces mothers to push their young girls into the streets.

In Sodom and Gomorrah, young girls and boys of Fofo’s age are seen trying to survive all by themselves. Some are seen to pay for the day hours while others pay for night hours. Some engage in hawking, stealing or prostitution as a means of survival. Fofo is seen sleeping out late at night in front of a kiosk, so that; she will meet up an appointment for a job. Right there in the middle of the night, Poison suddenly came upon her forcefully and abused her sexually.

After being freed from the stronghold of Poison, Fofo decides to pay her mother a visit, but not without the company of her friend, Odarley. It is however on this background that this research seeks to examine Amma Darko’s faceless as a discourse text.

1.2 statement of the problem

Over the years, ‘discourse analysis’ has been employed by people in a variety of academic disciplines and departments to describe what they do, how they do it, or both. Barbara Johnstone (2002) observes that while many of these people have training in general linguistics, some identify themselves primarily as linguists, yet others identify themselves primarily with fields of study as varied and disparate as anthropology, communication, cultural studies, psychology or education among others.

This shows that, under the label discourse analysis, so many people do their own things in their own ways, relying on methods and approaches that may be peculiar or relevant to their disciplines or fields of study. However, Literature is the mirror of the society because the artists write or compose their works about the events and happenings in the society. African writers have had the task of writing about the experiences of Africans before independence as well as post independent disillusionment.

The literary artists can through their works offer critical appraisal of existing political situation in order to mould or redirect the actions of society, its belief and values. Literature can therefore influence people’s perception about politics and how to effect a political change. It is therefore difficult to divorce literature from politics. We tend to agree with the views of the late literary icon, Ken Saro-Wiwa when he states: Literature must serve society by steeping itself in politics; by intervention and writers must not merely write to amuse or to take a bemused critical look at society. He must play an interventionist role. ( 81).

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Discourse Analysis of Amma Darko Faceless

A political literary discourse is thus very relevant at this point in time when many African countries are faced with diverse political problems, occasioned by mal-administration, dictatorship and excessive corruption of governments. It is on this backdrop that this study seeks to explore the connotative and denotative meanings of words, expressions, themes and subject matter portray his by Amma Darko in her work Faceless.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The main object of this is to carry out a discourse analysis in Amma Darko’s Faceless. Specifically, the study also seeks to:

  1. examine the possible discourses underlying in Amma Darko’s Faceless
  2. to identify prominent discursive/stylistic features used in Amma Darko’s Faceless
  3. also examine how the ideologies about women discriminations in Amma Darko’s Faceless are represented linguistically

1.4 Research Questions

The following research questions were formulated to guide the study;

  1. what are the possible discourses underlying in Amma Darko’s Faceless?
  2. what are the prominent discursive/stylistic features used in Amma Darko’s Faceless ?
  3. how the ideologies about women discriminations in Amma Darko’s Faceless are represented linguistically?

1.5 Research Methodology

This research is based on qualitative research; the primary source of information will be from Amma Darko’s Faceless. The research shall also investigates secondary sources in the form of existing literature in several fields, books, magazines, e-journals, articles, newspapers, presentations, lectures, and unpublished works. The Library and the Internet will also be consulted for relevant data for this study.

1.6 Significance of the Study

The importance of style in any given write-up cannot be underestimated and this research work will be significant in the following ways:

  1. First, it will contribute to the growing explorations on the interface between language and literature.
  2. It will also explore how a linguistic framework can help us in understanding language usage
  3. It will also obviously contribute to our knowledge on the link between literature and style in academic disciplines.
  4. It will serve as a mail stone for other researcher on stylistic, this research is hence important because its findings will be significant in the understanding of literary texts discourse.

1.7 Scope and Limitation of the Study

The scope of this study shall be limited to discourse of Amma Darko’s Faceless. The study is limited to textual analysis of Amma Darko’s Faceless, the analysis will concentrate on analysing of the discursive and stylistic features found in the text. Consequently, issues related to the supra-segmental aspects of phonetics and phonology is outside the scope of this study. This implies that categorical generalization cannot be made because of the sole concentration on the written medium.

1.8 delimitation of the study

Particularly, the focus is delimited to concentrate solely on the understanding of Amma Darko’s Faceless using linguistic tools to unravel it.

1.9 Definitions of Terms

Discourse analysis: The Oxford English Dictionary defines discourse analysis as: “Linguistics, a method of analysing the structure of texts or utterances longer than one sentence, taking into account both their linguistic content and their sociolinguistic context; analysis performed using this method.”

Mr. Harrison

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