Language and Ethnic sentiments in Nigeria: Evidence from Facebook comments
Keywords:ethnic sentiment, ethnolinguistic identity theory, readers’ responses, Facebook
Given the role of English as a language of wider communication in Nigeria, it is possible for people with different languages to interact without much linguistic barrier. The English language, therefore, facilitates communication. However, ethnic differences are still evident in the reactions and comments of people in different discourses which sometimes may lead to conflict and separation. A lot of studies exist which explore the roles of language in national development and unity and those that investigate patterns of self-assertiveness among ethnic groups characterised by ethnolinguistic vitality. However, patterns of ideological conflicts and solidarity based on ethnic affiliations have been under-researched. The present study relies on readers’ responses to Facebook comments to determine the role of language and ethnicity in solidarity formations in Nigeria. Data for this work was collected on the Facebook timelines of some socio-cultural groups in Nigeria. Ethnolinguistic Identity Theory and its revised standard version was adopted as the theory for the analysis. We discovered at the end of the work that ethnic bias reflects in the comment and response of people on Facebook. The use of linguistic and sociolinguistic features aid the ethnic inclusion and exclusion on Facebook.
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