Linguistics and Communication Project Topics

An Analysis of Grapho-syntactic Errors in the Language of Advertising in Nigeria





Technological advancements, globalization of competition, the increasing importance of information, increasingly competitive environments, and changes in consumer demographic characteristics (e.g., an increase in the number of employed women, changes in family structure) have all contributed to significant changes in marketing and advertising. Classic advertising becomes less and less effective as a result of these developments, and this is exacerbated by excessive advertising and advertisers’ extravagant claims. This is one of the factors that contribute to the deficit (i.e., the decreasing reliability and quality of certain media). As a result, advertisers will use any and all measures at their disposal to fulfill previously stated objectives in order to maximize their impact.

Covert advertising, according to scholars (Okorie & Akhidenor 2011), is a primary brand communication method used to promote a business’s image and value. Covert advertising is said to be a brand communication tool that may be utilized to promote and build a brand. Covert advertising, according to Muthukumar (2013), has long been employed as a vehicle and has its own impact on customers. It has become an important part of Integrated Marketing Communications. It is less expensive as a vehicle in the advertising medium and has the potential to have a greater influence on the target market.

Covert advertising is a type of advertising in which a product or brand is advertised as an insert in a film that is usually promoted or patronized by a celebrity who appears in the film. In a similar vein, Vasanthi (2013) believes that “covert advertising is viewed as a hybrid kind of advertising.” A product or brand that is integrated in entertainment and media is known as covert advertising. To put it another way, branding various items by including them in films or television shows where the audience may be unaware that they are being advertised to.” “Advertisers utilize numerous tactics to mask such objectives smartly,” Alrasheedi (2014) believes. Advertisers employ covert communication to persuade their target audiences to purchase their products.” This way of thinking led Aka et al. (2015) to claim that “advertising influences the behavioural pattern of customers and ensures the effectiveness of advertisement.”

The daily activities of human beings generate waste. In the opinion of Singh, Saxena, Bharti and Singh (2018), waste was not a main issue when the populace of humans was relatively small and drifting, but became serious as a result of urbanization and increase of large conurbations. According to Singh, et al., (2018), along the years, people have migrated from urban to rural areas causing an increase in the amount of waste produced by a particular location and this has had an extremely negative effect on public health and sanitation in the environment.


Waste is an unavoidable part of human existence and doesn’t pose any threat except when not properly managed. Waste management in Lagos State, Nigeria is very crucial not just because of a healthy environment but also because it falls under SDG goal 11 and 3 (Sustainable cities and communities, good health and wellbeing) and proper waste management would aid in the accomplishment of this goal. According to Brunner, the primary goals of waste management are to protect human wellbeing, the environment and preserve resources.

Allesch and Brunner (2012) along with Singh et al., believe that over time, there has been an increased migration rate of people from undeveloped and semi-developed areas to metropolitan areas. The increase in the size of the populace in developed cities is extremely high in contrast to those of under developed cities. The unrestrained enlargement in developed areas has left many cities lacking in infrastructural services like water supply, sewage and community solid waste management. In many metropolitan areas, almost half of the solid waste created remains unattended, resulting in rise to unhygienic surroundings especially in compactly populated areas which has a snowball effect on increasing in gruesomeness especially due to parasitic and microbial infections in all segments of the populace, while the developed city dwellers and the waste handlers are being the less affected. Advertising is a multi-faceted method of spreading information about certain goods, services, or ideas to a target audience by designated sponsors. “The activity of calling anything (a commodity for sale, a service provided or wanted) to the public’s attention, especially by means of written or broadcast paid announcements,” according to Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary.

Thus, advertising refers to the tactics and procedures used to bring certain items, services, and ideas to the public’s attention in order to persuade them to respond in a specific way to what is promoted. Advertising necessitates communication, and communication necessitates the use of language. Language is the primary medium of human connection and communication. Language, as defined by Sapir, is “a totally human and non-instinctive technique of conveying ideas, emotions, and wants through a system of deliberately generated symbols.”

As a result, language is the foundation for all human activities and interactions. As a type of human contact, advertising makes use of language, and according to Brook, “the words of advertising must be selected with care if they are not to have ludicrous results.”

In Nigeria, the majority of the media is written in English. This isn’t to say that our native languages aren’t employed in media advertising; rather, English is the dominant language in the media. Although English is not native to Nigeria, it is one of the country’s official languages and its lingua franca.

The arrival of the English language in Nigeria was formally acknowledged by the creation of Lagos as a British colony in 1862, but there are signs of its presence in Nigeria prior to that date. With the entrance of Europeans in Nigeria for political, economic, or religious conquest, communication between English and Nigerians of various ethnic groups became necessary. According to Omolewa (in Uzoezie), Europeans had a low view of the vernacular, which they believed to be neither widespread nor of good quality. As a result, these Europeans opted to communicate with Nigerians in their own language.

The Portuguese were the first Europeans to land on Nigeria’s shores. Around the seventeenth century, they made touch with various Southern Kingdoms, including ancient Calabar and the Benin Empire. The second group of Europeans to arrive in Nigeria were British tradesmen. According to Uzoezie, the British drove out the Portuguese and replaced the contact language with English as a diplomatic and commercial language. According to Uzoezie, the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 and the subsequent British success in the famous race to Nikki in 1884 gave England the monopoly for slave trading along the West Coast of Africa, and the ground was thus prepared for the permeation of the English language along the coast and the hinterlands, as cited by Omolewa in Adetugbo. A kind of inter-language (pidgin) evolved as a result of interactions between the English language, Portuguese, and some indigenous languages.

The official annexation of Lagos as a British colony occurred in 1862; as a result, the British desperately needed manpower to run their affairs of government in Nigeria, and having chosen English as the language of government, they had to teach the indigenes English in order to facilitate better communication, interaction, comprehension, and management The English language was chosen as the medium of instruction for the training of the desperately needed personnel in 1882.

Missionaries who arrived to Nigeria to share the gospel had to communicate in English as well. They highlighted the importance of the English language in relation to religion. As part of their conversion tactics, they taught Nigerians reading, arithmetic, and writing (the 3 Rs). As a result, the language’s expansion was aided.

According to Eresimmadu and Arinze, many liberated slaves returned to their original towns and states when the transatlantic slave trade was abolished in 1807. in their regions of servitude, these slaves had already learned some English. They went on to work as interpreters and instructors, spreading the English language. Furthermore, according to Udensi and Ike-Nwafor, the certification system of work, wherein a credit pass in the English language was made a fundamental prerequisite for employment and further education, heightened the demand for a solid command of the English language. As a result, English became the language of government, the media, education, politics, and the lingua franca of the world.

According to Udensi and Ike-Nwafor, the adoption of English as the official language has caused issues for many Nigerians. These issues manifested themselves as phonological, morphological, syntactic, and graphological mistakes in language usage. Language interactions between English and various mother tongues, often known as vernacular languages, resulted in these mistakes. These languages are completely unrelated to English, with many differences in phonemic inventories, syllabic structures, spellings, and grammar, for example. Nigerians frequently incorporate parts of their vernacular languages into their English speech, which seem as mistakes.

As a result, the fusion of over 250 linguistic groups into a single nation, the rise of commerce, and the growth of the market economy, among other things, made it necessary to replace traditional advertising (the employment of town criers) with a more contemporary strategy, via English.


Most Nigerians are unfamiliar with the phrase grapho-syntactic mistake. These mistakes abound in the advertising industry, as well as other industries that require speaking and writing, and the majority of individuals are unaware of them. The following are the issues that need this research: Grapho-syntactic mistakes violate the language’s syntactic and graphological principles and are not recognized as such by most individuals. And, sadly, the inaccuracies are slowly but steadily becoming commonplace among Nigerians.


The primary aim of this study is to analyze grapho syntactic errors in the language of advertising in Nigeria. Thus, the following objectives;

1. To determine whether grapho-syntactic errors indicate deficient mastery of the English language.

2. To determine if there a correlation between the rates of  occurrence  of these errors and the level of education of the users of these erroneous forms.

3. To determine whether these erroneous forms show traces of interference from the first language of the users.


The following questions guide this study;

1. Do grapho-syntactic errors indicate deficient mastery of the English language?

2. Is there a correlation between the rates of occurrence of these errors and the level of education of the users of these erroneous forms?

3. Do these erroneous forms show traces of interference from the first language of the users?


This research will reveal grapho-syntactic mistakes in advertising language. Many individuals are unaware of these flaws and, as a result, accept erroneous forms as “normal English forms.” This research will assist in exposing these mistakes and demonstrating the right forms of the most common ones, therefore increasing people’s awareness of them. It will also assist in clarifying the problems that some advertising offer in fully comprehending them due to such mistakes. Advertisers will be encouraged to edit their products before distributing them to customers as a result of the study. It will also bring instructors’ attention to them so that they may include them into their classroom activities.

This study will also raise awareness among officials from the Federal and State Ministries of Knowledge about the necessity for a particular degree of education before our people can be permitted to start a “company,” because these errors are indicators of our people’s lack of formal education. It will also make customers more suspicious of certain of the phrases or expressions used by advertising, as some of the grammatically or semantically ill-formed statements may be “intentional” and designed to fool the reader or listener. In summary, the goal of this study is to raise awareness of grapho-syntactic mistakes in advertising and to encourage those involved to assist eradicate them.


This study will cover advertising practices in Nigeria and their use of grapho syntactic errors. This study will look into grapho-syntactic errors and if they indicate deficient mastery of the English language, also it will cover whether there is a correlation between the rates of occurrence of these errors and the level of education of the users of these erroneous forms and whether these erroneous forms show traces of interference from the first language of the users. Hence, English and linguistics students in two selected universities in Lagos State will be used for this study.


During the course of this study, the researcher was limited by insufficient funds to delve deeper and extend the reach of this research.


1. ERROR: This simply refers to the state or condition of being wrong in conduct or judgement.

2. ADVERTISING: Advertising refers to the tactics and procedures used to bring certain items, services, and ideas to the public’s attention in order to persuade them to respond in a specific way to what is promoted.



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