Improving Sociolinguistic Competence (SC) through Feminist Stylistics (FS)

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Asian Journal of African Studies


Feminist stylistics (FS), like any other stylistics practice, draws basic assumptions from linguistics. Yet unlike other traditional stylistics practices, FS opens its doors to ideology and extra-textual factors in the analysis of a text. Unlike the formalist stylistics, for example, it renders less importance to linguistic form and linguistic elegance. Drawing relevant linguistic tools like passivisation, transitivity, agency and fragmentation from functional stylistics, FS can be applied to analyse power structures. In line with these assumptions, the ultimate aim of this research was to study the significance of FS in enhancing the sociolinguistic competence (SC) of students through teaching local poetry in English in the Ethiopian higher education context. A feminist stylistics model of teaching poetry was integrated with communicative language teaching (CLT) tasks so that an intriguing environment was recreated in the classroom for the students to develop their sociolinguistic competence. This project was an integral part of five other stylistics research projects. It was carried out on the basis of an experimental research design following a mixed method research. A total of 190 students (63.3%) were selected from the population of 300 students in various programmes of the Department of English and Other Languages at Adama University, Ethiopia, through a systematic sampling procedure. These students were again classified into experimental groups (95) and control groups (95) following a systematic sampling method. The students in the experimental group took FS module through the stylistics course which included FS and other modules in stylistics. A summary of the total mean gain score out of 20 showed an interesting result. Both the control and experimental groups performed almost similarly in their feminist stylistics pre-test which was calculated out of 20%. The experimental mean score was 9.8842 and a little bigger than the control mean score of 7.2316. Consequently, the t-test result showed that the existence of a mean difference of 1.33684 was not statistically significant. Therefore, there was no statistically significant difference between the mean test scores of the two groups. On the other hand, the t-test results for both pre and post tests for the feminist stylistics module were also observed. The t-value of the feminist stylistics post-test was 8.651. And, the table value of t-critical was 1.96 with 188 degree of freedom and at a significance level of 0.05. Because the t-value of 8.651 exceeded the t-critical value of 1.96 for a two tailed test at 0.05 level of significance for 188 degree of freedom, the null hypothesis was rejected. Therefore, the feminist stylistic method of teaching indigenous poetry does contribute to the improvement of the sociolinguistic competence of students in the English as a foreign language (EFL) context.


* Associate Professor/Deputy Director, Department of Communication, Faculty of Human Sciences, Namibia University of Science and Technology, Windhoek, Namibia; email:


Feminist stylistics (FS), Sociolinguistic competence (SC), Indigenous poetry, EFL, Communicative language teaching (CLT), Gender free language


Woldemariam, H. Z. (2018). Improving Sociolinguistic Competence (SC) through Feminist Stylistics (FS). Asian Journal of African Studies, (43), 31-81.