Language of Open-Air Market in North-Central Nigeria



Fakuade,G., O.Atolagbe, E.Udosen & A.Rafiu


Work Unit:

University of Ilorin, Nigeria; University of Ilorin, Nigeria; University of Calabar, Nigeria; University of Ilorin, Nigeria


Vol.9 No.2 (Serial No.15) 2021






Language plays a significant role in business, trade and commerce. Bargaining in open-air markets often involves the speech act of negotiating, compromising and manoeuvring, which could either result in conflict or persuasion of the potential buyer to patronize a seller. This article examined the sociolinguistic aspects of language use between sellers and buyers in Ipata, a popular market in Ilorin, north-central Nigeria. The call strategy, spiel, honorification, pragmatic mechanics as well as sociolinguistic style employed by vendors were observed. The objectives of the study were to: identify the number of languages used in Ipata market; investigate the factors that influence the choice of any of the languages used between sellers and buyers at a particular time; analyze their sociolinguistic and stylistic features; and discuss some of the barriers that could cause intercultural communication breakdown between sellers and buyers in a market situation.Oral interview, systematic observation and Bauman’s (2001) method of street recording were used to gather data for the study. Sixty-five people comprising thirty-six females and twenty-nine males were interviewed. The survey which spanned three months discovered that open-air markets bear some universal features, however, due to cultural relativity, variations occur. To this end, it was established that Ipata market harbours different languages; it also identified calls and spiels with their characteristic stylistic, sociolinguistic and discourse features in the market. In conclusion, the study argued that studying the verbal discourse of marketplaces is significant as it defines what the language-culturesociety-relationship is all about.

Key Words:

sociolinguistics, open-air market, code-mixing, call and spiel, buyers and sellers, Ipata market


doi: 10.26478/ja2021.9.15.7


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