Utterances Functions and the Negotiation of Power in Courtroom Interactions: A Survey of High Courts in Ota, Ogun State, Nigeria
- Power, Dominance, Inequality, Utterance functions, Negotiation, Courtroom discourse.
This study investigated the negotiation of power and the pragmatic implication of utterances in courtroom proceedings in Ota, Ogun State, Nigeria. Teun van Dijk’s approach to Critical Discourse Analysis and Jacob Mey’s Pragmatic Acts theory are theoretical frameworks adopted in the study. Data was collected from five High Courts’ trial cases in Ota, Ogun State, Nigeria. In the High Courts, the Judge wills the highest power in the court and controls the proceedings in the High court. The Judge dominates the Counsels, and litigants while the Counsels dominate the litigants. The litigants are observed to be at the receiving end of the discourse as they accept and legitimize this power and dominance. Certain pragmatic acts such as acknowledging, protesting, accusing, justifying were deduced from the discourses. The role played by courtroom participants in the social structure influences power relations in courtroom proceedings. Thus, power, dominance, inequality and hegemony are notable features in the language of High Court proceedings in Ota.