Analysing Speech Acts in Buhari’s Address at the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly

Innocent Sourou Koutchadé


This article aims at examining the language of a political speech through the linguistic theory of pragmatics. The focus of the study is, specifically, to identify speech acts used in Buhari’s address at the 71st session of the UN General Assembly.  Such an analysis is meant to emphasize the way the Nigerian president conveyed his intentions and his country’s priorities in line with the general theme of the Assembly. The paper has adopted Searle’s (1969) speech act theory. The identification of illocutionary acts in the speech through a tabulated statistics shows that there are 52.56% of representative acts, 19.23% of directive acts, 16.66% of expressive acts, 11.53% of commissive acts and  00% of declaration acts. The findings reveal the dominance of representative illocutionary acts showing that Buhari has mainly expressed his beliefs regarding the theme of the assembly and the priorities of his country. Directive acts are used to make suggestions whereas commissives are used to point out the challenges to be taken up by Buhari and his audience and expressives reflect his psychological state while addressing the world leaders. The paper concludes that this study of speech acts has made it easy to comprehend the message of the Nigerian president in his address.



Political speech, General Assembly, Pragmatics, speech acts, illocutionary acts

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