Pragmatics of Violence: Violentization of our World through Words


  • Olatunde Ayodabo Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo, Nigeria


Pragmatic violence, Nigerian elections, Russia-Ukraine debates, Speech acts


This article explores the different canons of strategic violence construction in contemporary discourses in Nigeria and Europe. While plethora of existing studies on the language of violence pick interest in engaging the discourses of violence from sociology, media studies, (critical) discourse analysis, and sociolinguistics, they have significantly undermined the typologies and pragmatic strategies of constructing violence in contemporary discursive events in Nigerian and European sociopolitical space. The current effort is therefore directed towards addressing this lacuna by examining how violence is constructed and co-constructed in the communicative events of the two climes with a view to identifying the typologies of violence (co)constructed and the pragmatic strategies deployed in (co)constructing violence in Nigeria and Europe. Aspects of pragmatics theories and concepts including speech acts theory (Searles, 1979), cooperative principle Grice (1975), pragmatic acts (Mey, 2001), and discursive pragmatics Zienkowski (2011) were deployed to tease out the pragmatics of violentising discourses across various communicative contexts. Data purposively selected include a press release by Former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo delivered on the 27th February, 2023; a speech by President von der Leyen, delivered at the European Parliament Plenary on Russian aggression against Ukraine, on 1st March, 2022; and the communicative exchanges at INEC Office Collation Centre between INEC Chairman and Senator Dino Melaye, a political party agent, on the 27th February, 2023. Findings showed that three principal typologies of violence: physical, psychological/emotive, and socio-ideological violence were identified. These were variously grounded within the contexts of law and war in both Nigeria and Europe. Five pragmatic strategies were found prominent in the study, namely deresponsibilisation, blame game, defaming of character and identity, evocation of antecedent, graphicisation of physical (violent) acts. These mechanisms of violentisation of communication were ventilated through the acts of warning, threatening, asserting, indicting and alleging. Violentised discourses from the contexts of conflict, law and war, thus typify the dynamics of the communicative worlds of the two climes, and eminently forge out how language is capable of creating strategic violence in itself, for its users, and is capable of making or marring peaceful cohesion in our war-torn world.




How to Cite

Ayodabo, O. (2024). Pragmatics of Violence: Violentization of our World through Words. RESEARCH IN PRAGMATICS, 3(3), 31–57. Retrieved from