Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

Interrogative Questions as Device for the Representation of Power in Selected Texts of Akachi Adimora- Ezeigbo

Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

Interrogative Questions as Device for the Representation of Power in Selected Texts of Akachi Adimora- Ezeigbo

Article excerpt


This paper investigates how interrogative clauses are used to perform various functions within the society and how they are used to exhibit power within different human structures. A critical survey of interrogative clauses presents them as instruments that project power among different groups within human processes. Critical Discourse Analysis complemented with Speech Acts constitutes the theoretical framework for the study. The data for this study were culled out from selected texts of Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo namely: The Last of the Strong Ones, Fractures and Fragments, Echoes in the Mind and Children of the Eagle.A total number of thirty-eight interrogative clauses were selected from these texts to show the different uses to which interrogative clauses are put as well as to observe how clauses are used to demonstrate the interplay of power. These were subjected to content analysis with a view to bringing out the inherent power relations within the interrogative clauses. The data revealed that interrogative clauses go beyond the scope of seeking for information. Different interrogative clauses as shown in the data were used to show the interplay of power and various illocutionary forces among different classes of people. These range from surprise, amazement, indignation, anger, emotion, wishes, threat, sarcasm, social ills, and many others. It also revealed that dominant personalities that wielded power intentionally exercised such over the seemingly powerless class among various people in the society. The significance of this is seen in the fact that language is used to perform various functions within the social system. The knowledge of this would help language users to see beyond the linguistic items and concentrate on areas where there are power relations and possibly abuse of power within the clause system in order to correct the abuse embedded within human processes so as to enhance equality and fairness for a better society.


Language is a multifaceted phenomenon in terms of usage. This is so because human language changes and reacts to different situations and circumstances. As circumstances change, language also changes. This supports Edward Sapir's view cited by Kilgour (1999) that "language is not only a vehicle for the expression of thoughts, perceptions, sentiments, and values characteristic of a community; it also represents a fundamental expression of social identity."Sapir said" the mere fact of a common speech serves as a peculiar potent symbol of the social solidarity of those who seek the language." In essence language represents the means by which humans project their thought to express various occasions they find themselves. Through language, human beings construct and enact different processes within the society. Language provides the means of uniting or dividing people, expressing feelings, ideas and so on. In addition, it can be used to indicate status, position and power. In essence, language is a potent weapon of building different ideological structures within any known society.


Power is seen as an ability possessed by particular person(s) which is used to control, direct, actions and behaviour of other people or entities. It is also a means by which an entity projects and tries to cause changes which may happen "through different forms of constraints on human actions" Wikipedia (2009). Writing on the innateness of power to the being of humans, Bertrand Russell notes that "of the infinite interests of (wo) man, the chief are the desires for power and glory" (1938:11). Max Weber (1954) considers power in terms of some advantages to be enjoyed by the wielder of it; hence, he considers it as ability (1954:23). This ability, according to Weber, propels individuals to actualize their personal will in a group act that is social as well as communal. This shows that there is acquiescence and conformity on the part of the powerless, or the dominated. …

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