Ethnography of Meaning Cues in Nonverbal Communication in South-western Nigeria

Ayoola, Kehinde A. (2006)


This study is a survey of nonverbal communication cues in the south-western Nigerian socio-cultural context. The paper's aim is to elicit features of nonverbal communication with unique cultural meanings in the context. The method of participant observation, often used by ethnographers of communication was employed for data collection and assigning of meaning cues to them. The writer, who resides in the Lagos metropolis, compiled a catalogue of nonverbal cues by observing the social and linguistic behaviours of the people in the area over a period of time. Categories and concepts of nonverbal communication such as kinesics, proxemics and chronemics were employed for the analysis of the data. It was discovered that, while several nonverbal cues observed have universal meanings, several examples have unique cultural meanings. It was also observed that nonverbal cues are frequently used both as complement to verbal communication and as alternatives to speech in the socio-cultural milieu studied.