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He has committed a drinkable offence: the discourse of alcohol consumption among rural youth in Nigeria

  • Eyo O. Mensah ORCID logo EMAIL logo
From the journal Linguistics Vanguard


This article explores how identity and masculinity are framed and negotiated through interactional discourses which are related to alcohol consumption and drinking culture by rural youth in Southern Cross River State, South-Eastern Nigeria. In this culture, young men employ enregisterment of slang, metaphors and subjective narratives to symbolically construct their ideologies of alcohol. The study adopts the community of practice conceptual framework which sets the parameters for social and linguistic practices where language is (re)produced and (re)conceptualised through different forms of participation and engagement. With ethnographic observations, interviews, focus groups and qualitative analysis, I aim to reveal some of the dimensions of identity and masculinity that are enacted in the discourse of alcohol consumption. These include: knowledge of slang and metaphors associated with alcohol and its consumption, projecting an image of a light or heavy alcohol consumer, utilising alcohol as a necessity in resolving conflicts and relating alcohol consumption as a source of strength, toughness and other masculine attributes. I conclude that alcohol drinking culture forms part of the creative agency and social imaginaries of rural youth in defining their authentic social selves and local lifestyles.


I am grateful to two anonymous reviewers of this article and the guest editor, Ellen Hurst-Harosh who contributed ideas and perspectives that greatly enhanced the argument of this article. I appreciate my field assistant, Idorenyin Attah for the interviews and recordings. I thank all the respondents who participated in this study, particularly Ita Bassey, Francis Effiong and Chief Bassey Edet Bassey (Ńkpọ́ Ńdík) for acting as the liaison between the researcher and the subjects of this study. I appreciate Dr. Idom Inyabri for critiquing an earlier draft of this article and Heavens Nkoyo Mensah for referencing assistance. The remaining errors are mine.

  1. funding: The fieldwork was supported partly by a grant from Firebird Foundation for Anthropological Research, Phillips, USA, Funder Id:, on the project: Documenting Efik oral literature.


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Received: 2019-06-08
Accepted: 2019-12-02
Published Online: 2020-12-05

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