International Journal of
English and Literature

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. English Lit.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-2626
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJEL
  • Start Year: 2010
  • Published Articles: 243

Full Length Research Paper

Semiotics in the Whatsapp conversations of undergraduate students of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Osun State, Nigeria

Otemuyiwa Abosede Adebola
  • Otemuyiwa Abosede Adebola
  • Joseph Ayo Babalola University, Ikeji Arakeji, Osun State, Nigeria.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 02 April 2016
  •  Accepted: 13 May 2017
  •  Published: 30 June 2017


Semioticians study signs not in isolation but as part of semiotic ‘sign systems’ (such as a medium or genre). They study of how meanings are made: as such, being concerned not only with communication but also with the construction and maintenance of reality. Structuralists seek to describe the overall organization of sign systems as 'languages'. However, for this study, we want to consider the structuralist approach which is concerned with the internal relations of parts within a self-contained system, seeking to explore the use of signs in specific social situations. The data were collected from undergraduates at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Osun State. Five conversations were collected from the undergraduate students from their WhatsApp application the first week of January. The instrument to be used for this study is Semiotics. The first three strings of each conversation were analyzed. Altogether fifteen clauses and sentences were analyzed. In this study, it has been discovered that nouns in the selected clauses and sentences cannot have antonyms but can have substitutes of other names on the paradigmatic or vertical axis. According to the structural rules that states that a part cannot function without a whole, in the conversations analyzed, it is revealed that there is internal coherence because the part has linguistic link with the whole. It is revealed that on the axis of chain, there are internal rules with which the structure regulates its behavior. The rules of concord, deletion, substitution, found in both axis of chain and choice modified the behavior of the internal structures of the conversations of the Obafemi Awolowo University Undergraduates, in Ile Ife. We conclude by suggesting that more smileys and emojis be used by conversationalists, since phones even suggest them as conversations are typed. Whatsapp is also used for formal instructions between teachers and students, so more teachers are encouraged to imbibe the culture of using it for passing instructions to their students. Furthermore, we suggest that this topic be added to secondary schools’ curriculum in order to increase the students’ skill in vocabulary development. Also, that the government should try and help in providing teaching materials or aids that could facilitate the teaching of these relations. Lastly, that though authors of primary schools texts have been trying to include matching of items or objects with words, nevertheless, we recommend that they continue to improve on it. It is a semiotic act.


Key words: Semiotics, Whatsapp, undergraduate students, O.A.U, Ife.