Gender and Politeness/Hedging Strategies in English among Igbo Native Speakers in Nigeria: A Difference in Conversational Styles

Chinomso P. Dozie, Chioma N. Chinedu-Oko, Patricia N. Anyanwu, Ijeoma C. Ojilere, Richard C. Ihejirika, Emeka J. Otagburuagu


Gender and language studies in general have not been fully explored in most parts of the globe particularly in Nigeria. The objective of the study therefore was to examine the politeness and hedging strategies in the English language conversation of Igbo native speakers in Nigeria as well as establish whether men and women’s conversational styles have been gendered As a cross-sectional questionnaire and interview-based survey, the sample population was studied by means of ten-item questionnaire in the form of Discourse Completion Task and structured interview at seven Universities systematically selected from the South-East and South-South geo-political zones in Nigeria. The study instruments were completed, returned, transcribed and statistically analysed using the quantitative and qualitative tools for analysis of production and perception data respectively. Results showed that politeness and hedging are indispensable sociolinguistic elements in the conversational English of the study sample. Also, results revealed that to accomplish a communicative goal, the samples adopted different politeness/hedging strategies given the discourse situation. Also, findings showed that the female respondents were found to adhere more to linguistic politeness principles than their male counterparts considering the context hence demonstrating a difference in conversational style. The study found evidence to establish that females are more polite than males in conversations. In conclusion, findings of this study showed that respondents yielded to certain sociolinguistic factors such as age, culture, hierarchy, disposition and religion as they were believed to inform the use of a particular strategy or another.


Gender, Politeness, Hedging, Strategies, Igbo Native Speakers, Conversational styles, Nigeria

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