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Syntactic And Lexico-Semantic Analyses Of Selected Sms Text Messages Among The University Of Ilorin Students


Sms Text Messages


Words form the basis for a Linguistic analysis at any level of language study. The aim of this essay was to identify the various Lexical and Syntactic elements that make up personal text messages among the students of the University of Ilorin. Lexical features, Lexical relations, Word-formation processes and Word Sequences were employed to unravel the Lexical and Syntactic elements contained in selected text messages. Among the findings in the work were that nouns are the most prominent lexical features in the personal text messages of the students of the University of Ilorin, while adverbs are the least used lexical features in the composition of these messages. It was also discovered that most of the words that were used in composing the messages were created through the word-formation process of derivation and that simple sentences in the most used sentence sequences in these messages. The conclusion in the essay was that effective communication through personal text messages among the University of Ilorin students can be ensued, if the receivers of the messages take into cognizance the various Lexical and Syntactic elements identified in their interpretation.


Table of Contents

List of Tables





Statement of the Research Problem

The Purpose of the Study

Scope of the Study

Justification of the study


Data Description




2.1 Introduction

2.2 The Meaning of Lexis

2.3 Lexical Features

2.4 Lexical Relations

2.5 Word-formation Processes

2.6 The Sequence of Words

2.7 A Brief Examination of Semantics

2.8 Lexico-semantics

2.9 SMS Text Messaging in Nigeria

2.10 Summary



3.1 Introduction

3.2 Lexical Features

3.3 Lexical Relations

3.4 Word-formation Processes

3.5 Sequence of Words



4.1 Summary

4.2 Findings

4.3 Conclusion




                                                                          GENERAL INTRODUCTION


Communication through an effective use of language is a tool that makes a good human relationship. Human beings are considered higher animals because of their ability to communicate effectively through the use of language. Language as a tool for effective communication is the most important part of a human being that makes him different from animals, Adedimeji (2005,p.1). As a result of this great role language plays in a man’s life, language is studied at five major levels in linguistics (Tomori,1977,p.21 as cited by Adedimeji,2005,p.1). These levels are Phonology, Morphology, Syntax, Semantics and Pragmatics. Words are very essential in every level of language analysis.

A Lexeme as defined by Crystal (2008) is “a term used by some linguists to refer to the minimal distinctive unit in the semantic system of a language”.  Crystal (2008) also defined Semantics as “a major branch of linguistics devoted to the study of meaning in a language”. Lexico-semantics therefore combines both the meaning of ‘Lexemes’ and ‘Semantics’. It originated from the linguistic fields of Lexicology and Semantics. Lexico-semantics as a subfield of Semantics addresses words and their meanings. It investigates the daily use of words among interactants with the aim of effective communication. Lexico-semantics deals with the relationship that exists between words, their meanings and the messages they convey.

SMS is a short message service that allows information to be passed across from one person to another, over a network at a particular rate. SMS is used as an abbreviation for all types of short text messaging in many parts of the world. SMS text messaging is one medium of communication that has found its way into the system of communication over the past few years. It is one technological device that its use is fast growing over a wide range in the whole of Africa and even the globe.

Communication through SMS is done by no other means but by the use of words. Lexemes are used to facilitate the effectiveness of this device. The effectiveness of this medium of communication depends on the appropriate combination of the words it carries, and in the combination of these words lies what is known as the message. Therefore, the relationship that exists between Lexico-semantics and SMS text messaging is effective communication, which is made possible through an appropriate combination of words into text messages.

From the foregoing, this work aims to investigate and identify the processes involved in the creation of these words, the various lexical relations and features that exist among the words that make up text messages. This will enhance a better interpretation and prevent misinterpretations among participants.


The problem which this work intends to solve is the problem of the misinterpretation of text messages as a result of a wrong choice of words or arrangement of lexemes in the composition of text messages, thereby leading to a breakdown in communication. This work intends to identify the various word-formation processes involved in the creation of new words, the lexical features and relationships that exist among words and also how these words are sequenced to build larger grammatical units.  This work also intends to examine how these words contribute to the interpretation of a text message, thereby leading to better choices of words on the part of the sender and a more precise interpretation on the part of the receiver.


The purpose of this study is to contribute to the body of knowledge through an investigation into the combination of word and their meaning in conveying an SMS. This work seeks to examine selected personal text messages sent by the students of the University of Ilorin between the ages of 18-25 years, identify the word-formation processes, lexical features and relations that exist among the lexemes that are contained in them. Also, how the knowledge of the lexical and semantic relations contribute to the meaning of the text messages would be examined. This will help to promote a better understanding of text messages.


This work will focus basically on the analysis of thirty personal text messages of the University of Ilorin students between the ages of 18-25 years. The analysis will be carried out through an identification of the word-formation processes, lexical features and relations and the word sequences among the words that make up these messages. The study will also take a look at the sequencing of words in the messages and how all these features contribute to the understanding of these messages.


This work is based on an analysis of SMS text messages using a Lexico-semantic approach. Several other studies have been conducted on SMS text messages. Among these are Awonusi (2004), who did “A Sociolinguistic study of SMS text messages as a register in Nigerian English”, Egbe (2005), discussed the “Aspects of the Grammar of SMS text messages”, Alabi, (2010b), wrote on “Stylistic creativity via schemes: Tropes, Lexical cohesion and Descriptive Adjectives in SMS text messaging among Nigerian university Graduates”.

However, going by the above, it can be observed that SMS text messages have been studied from various fields of linguistics ranging from Sociolinguistics, to Grammar, to Stylistics, etc. This study is however adding to the knowledge and analysis of SMS text messages in the Lexico-semantic field. This work will be of great relevance and a reference point to students of communication studies, users of SMS text messaging as a medium of communication and students of English language and literature. Sms Text Messages


The selection of data for analysis in this study has been done randomly. The sources for the data for analysis in this study are text messages sent by the University of Ilorin students between the ages of 18-25 years. Out of these text messages, this work will focus on personal text messages (Chiluwa,2007, p.98 as cited  by  Alabi,2010b,p.1). Thirty personal text messages have been selected for analysis in this work. These messages represent the whole body of personal text messages and are considered suitable for the purpose for which this work is conducted. The analysis ofthese messages will be done through an identification of various elements that characterize lexemes i.e. word-formation processes, lexical relations and features and word sequencing in contributing to the messages they pass across as a result of  their  co-occurrence in an expression. Sms Text Messages


SMS was first used in December 1992 by a 22-year-old named Neil  Papworth. The concept of SMS was developed by Friedhelm Hillebrand, Bernard  Ghillebaert and Oculy Silaban in 1984, in the Franco-German GSM cooperation. However, following the inception of the Global System of Mobile communication (GSM) in Nigeria, in the year 2001, Alabi, (2010b), SMS text messaging has become a major medium of passing across information from one person to another irrespective of the distance between the ‘sender’ an ‘receiver’. MTN, which happened to be the first GSM Company in Nigeria, commenced its commercial services in August 2001. This commencement brought the Short Message Service (SMS) to limelight in the Nigerian communication system. Ever since then, text messaging has taken different turns. Sms Text Messages

The data for analysis in this study are personal text messages, as described by Chiluwa (2007) as “well wishing messages and messages that are used to express emotions”. Thirty of these messages have been selected for analysis using certain tools that will be discussed in the next chapter. Sms Text Messages


So far in this chapter, an insight into the variables of the topic of this  study has been created, the purpose, scope, justification and methodology for this  study  have been discussed. A more extensive and detailed discussion of the approach to the  study and its elements is hoped to be discussed in the next chapter, which is the  literature  review.

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