Language Use In Conflict Situations

Filed in Articles by on December 8, 2022

 – Language Use In Conflict Situations –

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This work examines language use during the crises that erupted in Jos from 1994 to 2010. Generally speaking, language is at the centre of virtually every aspect of human life, and operates on different levels and in different forms, according to the context in which it is used.

The aim of the study was to examine the several factors that have determined the linguistic choices of the parties to the Jos conflicts which are different from ordinary day-to-day conversations, and the effects of these choices on the conflicts.

Although several studies have been carried out on the Jos crises, direct exchanges between the parties in conflict have not been collated and analysed.

This study analysed the featuers of the language used by the parties in conflict, as well as their perception of language and communication in conflict situations.

The fundamental theory adopted in this study is the Systemic Functional Linguistic Theory which asserts that language use is determined by the prevailing circumstances surrounding it.

Since context determines language use, the type of language employed in conflict situations is certainly different from that used in ordinary everyday conversations. The study made use of two primary instruments of data collection.

One was the collection of samples of utterances, remarks or comments by parties in conflict and also by third parties as recorded in reports of commissions of inquiry into the conflicts, conference proceedings as well as newspapers. 


Language is the medium through which humans express their ideas, emotions, experiences and expectations. It is a system of conventional spoken or written symbols by means of which human beings as members of a social group and participants in its culture communicate.

Language is therefore species-specific to man (Bamgbose 4). In consonance with the assertion that language is uniquely a human endowment, Afolayan states that, Language is the unique property of the human being.

The development of man, be it intellectual, moral, political, social or economic depends very largely on the instrumentality of language. It is with language that man recognizes himself and socializes with others, understands, masters and utilizes the environment around him (38).

Language is the expression of ideas by means of speech sounds combined into words which are further combined into sentences. It is a system of arbitrary vocal symbols by means of which a social group cooperates (Romain 20).

This underscores the importance and necessity of language in human life. Different systems of vocal communication are found in different languages. Human beings are unrestricted in what they can communicate about.

No area of experience is necessarily incommunicable though one may have to adapt one’s language in order to cope with new discoveries or new modes of thought. In the Greek intellectual tradition, Aristotle declares that “speech is the representation of the mind” (Robins,19).

Every physiologically and mentally normal person acquires the ability to use language both as a speaker and a hearer. In this way, he is able to impart information, to express feelings and emotions, to influence the activities of others, and to comport himself to 2 varying degrees of friendliness or hostility towards persons who use the same set of linguistic items. 


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CSN Team.

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