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Manipulative Use of Short Messaging Service (SMS) Text Messages by Nigerian Telecommunications Companies

Kehinde A. Ayoola (Ile-Ife)



Abstract

This paper is an application of Relevance Theory for the interpretation of short messaging service (SMS) text messages emanating from Nigerian telecommunications companies to their subscribers. The aim of the research was to identify and describe the manipulative strategies employed by Nigerian telecommunications companies to induce subscribers to part with their money through sales promotion lotteries. 100 SMS texts were purposively extracted from the cell phones of randomly selected residents of Lagos Nigeria who had received promotional SMS text messages from three major Nigerian telecommunications companies. Using Sperber and Wilson's Relevance Theory (1995) as its theoretical framework, the paper described the manipulative use of SMS by Nigerian telecommunications companies. The analysis revealed that SMS text messages were encoded to achieve maximization of relevance through explicature and implicature; contextual implication and strengthening; and the reduction of processing effort through violating the maxim of truthfulness and the creative use of graphology. The paper concludes that SMS text-messages were used manipulatively by Nigerian telecommunications companies to earn indirect income from sales promotion lottery.


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