A semiotic study of the discourse of student soccer fans in selected Southwestern Nigerian Universities
This study explored the discourse of student soccer fans in some Southwestern Nigerian universities, with a view to characterizing the discourse genre. The study accounted for the verbal and the non-verbal resources of the discourse, and the relationship between the two modes of communication in the discourse, in order to reveal their dynamics. Data for the study comprised twelve samples of the conversations obtained from student soccer fans in University of Lagos, University of Ibadan and Obafemi Awolowo University. Two samples were got from each of the centres visited for data and two centres were visited in each of the three Universities selected for the study. The participant observation method was employed in gathering data for the study in the three Universities. Audio recordings of the verbal discourse of the subjects were done in each of the centres using a completely surreptitious method of recording, while video recordings of the non-verbal features of the discourse of the subjects were done using both surreptitious and non-surreptitious methods in the twelve centres. Halliday’s Systemic Functional Linguistics was employed in the analysis of the verbal resources, while multimedia semiotics was drawn upon in the analysis of the non-verbal features of the data. Analysis of the interaction of the verbal and non-verbal signs was also carried out. Analysis at the primary level where the verbal resources of the discourse were examined revealed that soccer fans deployed verbal resources such as mood (indicative, interrogative and imperative), sentences, code-switching, code-mixing, Pidgin English, indigenous language, social allusion, inclusion, boasting and defeatist language which, in addition to reflecting the passions of the subjects for their favourite football clubs, expressed a wide range of meanings. Analysis at the secondary level, where non-verbal resources of the discourse were examined showed that student soccer fans used jerseys, head warmers, belts, hand bands and gestures to convey their intentions visually. The analysis showed further that student soccer fans used such semiotic nuances to gain psychological advantage over other fans by intimidating them with their appearance and portraying themselves as classy people. The study concluded that the English discourse of student soccer fans in Southwestern Nigerian universities was multimodal.