Nonce Formations as a Campaign Tool in the 2022 General Elections in Kenya

Nonce Formation, Word-Formation Processes, Political Discourse, Multimodality, Political Campaigns


    Chuka University, Department of Humanities, Chuka, Kenya
February 19, 2023


Language is primarily a system that speakers use to make meaning. When there is no available term to refer to a new phenomenon or to communicate an idea then speakers use their linguistic creativity to create new terms. This is especially witnessed in the political arena during the campaign period. Using a multi-modal approach, this study analysed nonce formations that were used as a campaign tool during the 2022 general elections in Kenya. The nonce formations were purposively selected from WhatsApp platforms that supporters of the candidates were using to campaign for their candidates of choice or against the candidate they did not want to elect. Only words/phrases and images that were coined to campaign or communicate campaign ideals were selected. The data was analysed using a multi-modal approach and transitivity analysis based on Systemic Functional Grammar. The findings of this research indicate that nonce formations were a prominent campaign tool before the elections took place. This study contributes to the theory of nonce formations and neologisms and provides linguistic material for use in the study of political discourse and political register.