Engagement as an Instrument of Authenticating Discourse Functions in Nigerian Newspaper Political Campaign Advertisements
Engagement is one of the tripartite evaluative language processes in the Appraisal theory. The system involves how the authorial voice engages the external voice in his text. This study analysed how this sub-category of the appraisal was used to authenticate persuasion-induced discourse functions in political advertisements. The data of this qualitative study were obtained from paid advertisements of the two main political parties in Nigeria published in three newspapers - "The Nation" and "Nigerian Tribune" and “The Guardian”. The advertisements of the two political parties were purposively selected because they were responsible for more than75% of newspaper campaign adverts during the period of study (2015 & 2019 elections). The results of the study reveal that the "Engagement system" was used as a rhetorical tool to authenticate and give credibility to positive acclaims on self and support the negative claims made on the opponent. One can safely conclude that the engagement system is an invaluable linguistic resource in political interactional discourse. Language scholars in the field of persuasive rhetoric should give serious attention to this persuasive strategy. This is because it has practical implications for practitioners of political advertising and consultants on political campaign. While rookie copy writers could further develop the linguistic tool to craft and enhance persuasive power in political campaign texts, political actors could use the strategy to give credibility and legitimacy to the claims in their campaign discourse. This consequently bridges the hitherto credibility gap associated with political discourse.