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I. Overview Nigeria is a land of many languages, with over 500 spoken by its inhabitants. As a result, the country has a great need for a common form of communication across ethnic groups. English, introduced to Nigeria during the colonial era, was chosen as Nigeria's only official language with this goal in mind. It is widely learned as a second language by speakers of many different Nigerian languages, and frequently used in business and education. However, not all the English spoken in Nigeria is the "standard" English recognizable in most English-speaking countries. As is commonly the case when a language is heavily used between non-native speakers, a new way of speaking has developed, with its own unique grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary. This form of communication is Nigerian Pidgin English, often referred to simple as "Pidgin" by those who speak it. Nigerian Pidgin English Language Status There is debate among scholars and speakers as to how to formally classify Nigerian Pidgin English. Historically, some have looked down upon it as a type of "broken English", or dismissed as merely an uneducated dialect of the standard language. More recent understanding, however, recognizes it as a language in its own right, with sufficient differences in vocabulary and structure to distinguish it from standard English. Nonetheless, there is discussion as to whether it should still be considered a pidgin - as the name implies - or whether it has developed sufficiently to be considered a creole. In linguistic terms, a pidgin is a simplified language developed for communication between two or more groups of people who do not share common languages, and must thus speak to one another using a language in which none of them are fluent. In the process, they may dramatically change the language - greatly reducing the complexity of the grammar, adapting the pronunciation to eliminate difficult sounds, and adding words from their own languages as needed. Pidgins are thus created out of necessity, and do not have native speakers. They also rely heavily on context and non-verbal clues, although basic standards tend to emerge over time. A creole, in contrast, is what happens when children grow up speaking a pidgin as their primary language. At that point, it ceases to be merely a second language learned as needed and becomes the native language of a new generation. Creoles have a more stable form than pidgins, both in vocabulary and grammar. Not all pidgins evolve into creoles, however, and even when they do, the transition may be gradual, or may take place unevenly in different areas. Nigerian Pidgin English is a good example of a language on the border between a pidgin and a creole. It was formed during the colonial era early in the 1900s, when the region came under the rule of Great Britain and many native Nigerians who spoke mutually incomprehensible languages were required to communicate with each other in English. Even today, the vast majority of its speakers learn it as a secondary form of communication, not as a primary language. It is still used mostly between speakers from different ethic groups rather than speakers from the same group, and there are wide variations in how the language is spoken from place to place in Nigeria. Nonetheless, the language has become extremely widespread within the country, and communities of native speakers have
particularly from Hausa. The number of natives may be small compared to the total number of speakers. Nigerian Pidgin English is written with the Latin alphabet. The grammar. but it is sizeable enough to have drawn increased attention to Nigerian Pidgin English in recent years. During the formation of a pidgin. Furthermore. The result is that many words look and sound quite different from the standard English terms from which they were derived. speakers who are regularly exposed to standard English will tend to use a more standard sentence structure than those who rarely hear it. "chop" can mean "food" and "yarn" can mean "talk". and Yoruba. As the pidgin evolves. Pidgin English Grammar The grammar of Nigerian Pidgin English reflects the simplification process that is typical of pidgin formation. is greatly simplified and usually phonetic. sounds that do not occur in many of those languages and may be difficult for their speakers to pronounce are usually eliminated. depending on the ethnic and linguistic background of the speakers involved. words often take on expanded meanings so that a limited vocabulary can cover a wide range of situations. also reflects the influence of the surrounding languages. some of the new secondary meanings may eventually become more widespread than the initial meanings. tenses are usually indicated by context or timerelated words. not all of the letters are used. like the vocabulary. For example. However. Nigerian Pidgin English also draws a considerable amount of vocabulary from the other African languages spoken around it. It is not unusual to find words from these languages mixed into Pidgin English sentences. For example. Igbo. based on what is most familiar and comfortable to them.developed in certain areas. Pidgin English Vocabulary The meanings of words in Nigerian Pidgin English may also differ from their standard English counterparts. rather than by changes within verbs. and some have become regular parts of the language. Speakers with different native languages may use different grammar structures when they speak Nigerian Pidgin English. . Spelling. These terms often vary from place to place in Nigeria. in Nigerian Pidgin English. In particular. too. and the pronunciation has been influenced by various native African languages. The Pidgin English Alphabet and Pidgin English Pronunciation Because it evolved from English.
ivory. West African (Vernacular) English (WAVE). when the Lagos settlement was first declared an official colony. is said to have occurred in three distinct phases: (1) the development of English-based pidgins. created in 1882. which. It was not until 1861. one might argue. the language of formal education in Nigeria. Both oral and written forms of English thus have a fairly long historical presence within Nigeria and the surrounding ESWA region. It was during the 1885 Berlin Conference. Sierra Leone. when Britain’s claim to the Oil Rivers Protectorate. the British had been trading in the region as early as the fifteenth century. both were created from territories formerly controlled by the Royal Niger Company. however. The Protectorates were amalgamated in 1914 into the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria. Primarily as a result of its historical implementation. and Liberia. by the eighteenth century. and gold (McArthur 700). primarily for slaves. which occurring during the pre-colonial period. and Post-Colonial Statuses of English in Nigeria and the West African Region The spread of English in Nigeria and the English speaking West African region (ESWA). Pre-Colonial Period While English became an official language during the era of nineteenth century colonialism in Nigeria and the ESWA. which consists of Cameroon. . both orally and literarily. British contact had been so firmly established within the Nigerian region that an Efik chief in Calabar (a city in north-eastern Nigeria) kept a diary in a form of Nigerian Pidgin English (NPE): ―… I walk up to see Esim and Egbo Young so I see Jimmy Henshaw come to see wee and wee tell him to go to on bord‖ (qtd. as British missionaries began teaching in the region. In fact. and (3) the post independence adoption of English as an official language (Bokamba 496). within Nigeria. and forms of Nigerian Pidgin English are widely used as link languages in the country. in which the European colonial powers divided control of Africa between themselves. English became. when relations between Britain and Nigeria were officially cemented. is the form of English linked to formal education. As a result of this colonial history. and remains. was recognised. 1900 marked the inception of The Protectorate of Southern Nigeria. Colonial. gives weight to the assertion that English ought to be considered as an historical language. (2) the introduction of Western education by English missionaries in the 1880’s. Nigeria. and it currently forms the accroletal part of a continuum of Englishes in West Africa. described below. during the pre-colonial period. in McArthur 700-701). History HISTORICAL CONSIDERATION OF ENGLISH IN NIGERIA AND SURROUNDING REGION Pre-Colonial.II. and the Protectorate of Northern Nigeria. Colonial Period English instruction in Nigeria began in the former half of the nineteenth century. Ghana. Gambia.
‖ And the third sense is to situate something. of course. a word which in SBE [Standard British English] belongs to one class in effect shifted to another class since it is given the syntactic characteristics of that class. but rather our scope in this essay is to highlight and explicate the grammatical features of the varieties of Nigerian English. as in ―deposit a bullet in the table. Nigerian English is characterized by what Jowitt (1991:111) termed "class shift. The first and most popular is to put money or other valuables in a bank account.‖ These are not strictly grammatically incorrect expressions. on the other hand. Characteristics It is indisputable that Nigerian English has since been unequivocally accepted as a legitimate variety of English worldwide. "contains standard and non-standard usages.‖ This is almost the standard expression in Nigerian media English to say that a dead body has been delivered at the mortuary. but it makes me sick to my stomach. IV." Jowitt describes this term thus: Here." Nigerian English. Example: ―I hope Yar’adua lives long enough to save us from a potentially destructive constitutional crisis. Now. The convention in journalistic writing globally is to quote a source and acknowledge attribution by writing ―(s)he said‖ at the end of a sentence. we will not delve into the controversial club to debate on the existence or non-existence of Nigerian English. in this essay. There are three principal senses of the word ―deposit‖ in conversational English. these usages varying in their relative frequency of occurrence in the English of each Nigerian. It’s. Unique Vocabulary and Expressions 1. . force or implant something. And ―deposit‖ is a singularly quaint verb to associate with death. The most common type of shift is reclassification of a noun or an adjective or an adverb as a verb. ―Hear him. has been defined differently by different scholars but for the purpose of our essay. illogical. to put something somewhere firmly. that is. the word ―remains‖ is too formal for a news story.‖ or ―in his words. ―Corpse‖ and ―dead body‖ are the more usual words.‖ It’s unclear how this expression sprang in Nigerian media English. It is precisely because you’re quoting your source ―in his words‖ that the sentence is in quotation marks. The second sense is to put. when Nigerian newspaper journalists write ―hear him. The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English defines grammar as "the rules by which words change their forms and are combined into sentences. ―Remains deposited at the mortuary. appropriate to write ―in his words‖ in broadcast scripts since they are meant to be read out.‖ they are not only being superfluous. as Okoro in Awonusi and Babalola (2004:169) puts it. especially in popular usage. 2. For this reason. But a few are subtle. as in ―deposit the suitcase on the bench. according to his or her level of competence in the language. And to write ―in his words‖ while at the same time inserting quotation marks to those words is redundant. they are also being unfaithful to the medium in which they write. For example. "many of these rules are well known and applied logically and consistently most of the time. inappropriate and superfluous verbiages." According to Okoro in Dadzie and Awonusi (2004:172). we read them. There are two problems with this expression. and inconsistent in their application. they are just ugly. We don’t literally ―hear‖ people in print.‖ he said." A close examination of the word classes would reveal peculiar features of the grammar of Nigerian English. First. we will choose to define Nigerian English as a variety which.III. fix.
―Not unconnected with.‖ .‖ This expression is not grammatically wrong but is hopelessly hackneyed and pretentious. Why not simply write ―criminals‖? 5. ―Our story is true in every material particular. ―As at the time of filing this report. the correct expression. It remains ―yesteryear‖ whether it’s in the singular or plural form. in media law. In Standard English. It means a brawl. But what is particularly irking about this practice is that it is used even in reporting stories of crucial public importance.‖ not ―as at. Another word that Nigerian newspapers—and by extension Nigerian speakers of the English language—pluralize against conventional practice is ―slang. however. George Orwell once urged us to laugh the not un. which is actually a fixed prepositional phrase. It’s either electioneering or campaign.‖ This solecism has sadly percolated deep into the conventions of Nigerian English in general. So it is sufficient to simply write that there was a free-for-all without adding ―fight. it’s also exasperatingly redundant to state that you have withheld the name of someone whose name you have not mentioned anyway! It is obvious to any reader that a name has been withheld if it’s not mentioned. ―Names withheld. the paper is in the soup.3.formation out of existence by memorizing this sentence: ―A not unblack dog was chasing a not unsmall rabbit across a not ungreen field.‖ The phrase ―in every material particular‖ is an archaic legal jargon.‖ 9.‖ Well. which is sometimes used for literary effects. has no plural in both the British and American varieties of Standard English. But my gripe with it is that it’s a hackneyed. not directly mentioning the name of a person or an organization is not sufficient safeguard against legal liability. the plural form of slang does not take an ―s‖. ―a south-south governor in an oil-rich state [names withheld] is involved in a corruption scandal‖). ―A free-for-all fight. 4. So ―electioneering campaign‖ is tautologous. ―Yesteryears.‖ This expression has lost currency in other parts of the Englishspeaking world. ―Electioneering campaign. it is often rendered as ―slang expressions. ―Men of the underworld. that sentence should read: ―As of the time of filing this report. and cannot modify another noun. If reporters and editors are not prepared to name names.‖ This tautologic expression is probably a consequence of the misrecognition of the part of speech of ―free-for-all.‖ This expression rankles me to no end. It’s not only unprofessional and irresponsible journalism to habitually conceal the identity of the subjects you are writing about (as in. 6. why waste ink and space to opaquely hint at them? But the bad news for editors and reporters who practice this imbecilic and feeble-minded journalism is that. flyblown cliché that evinces the intellectual laziness of Nigerian journalists. even where it is legally and ethically safe to do so.‖ So. is ―AS OF.‖ It is a noun. 8. 7. If a person or a company can prove that there is sufficient material basis for ―right-thinking‖ members of the society to infer that they are the object of a libelous newspaper innuendo. not an adjective.‖ This old-fashioned word. a noisy fight in a crowd. It is not used in everyday English in any native variety of the English language.‖ The plural is often rendered as ―slangs‖ in Nigeria.‖ ―Electioneering‖ and ―political campaign‖ mean the same thing.‖ 10.
I disagree Abi? – Isn’t it? Na so? – Is that so? Area boys -Street-smart young men that loiter around neighborhoods. Go slow – Traffic jam I go land you slap – I will slap you! Listen well well – Pay attention . Example – Abeg! No waste my time!. Example – Why you dey give me wahala? Which means why are you giving me so many problems? Comot! – Get out of here! Comot for road – Make way Dem send you? – Have you been sent to torment me? Gi mi – Give it to me. but usually not a repentant plea.How Bodi? / How You Dey? – How are you doing today? How Far? – Hey. K-leg – Questionable. I no no – I don’t know I no sabi – I don’t understand I dey fine – I’m fine. Example – Make you no vex me! . I Wan Chop – I want to eat Come chop – Come and eat Abeg – Please. Which means ―Don’t upset me!‖ I no gree – I don’t agree. I’m doing well. Which means Please! Don’t waste my time! Vex – Upset. Hi Wetin? – What? Photo by author. Example – Your story get k-leg! Which means your story or gist sounds suspect or exaggerated. Wetin dey happen? – What’s going on? What’s happening? Wahala – Problem/Trouble.
nigeriavillagesquare.ac.kfunigraz.com/articles/farooq-a-kperogi/broken-english-pidgin-englishand-nigerian-english.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww-oedt.net/essays/english/The-Grammatical-Features-of-NigerianEnglish.at/ndv-conf/present/15-Hassan%20JiddaNigerian%20English.about.youtube.html http://www.pdf http://www.kfunigraz.com/od/mo/g/Nigerian-English.com/learn-pidgin-english/overview.htm http://matadornetwork.at%2Fndvconf%2Fpresent%2F15-Hassan%2520Jidda-Nigerian%2520English.htm http://grammar.htm http://www.html .com/l.V. Sources http://grammar.html http://www-oedt.com/abroad/beginners-guide-to-nigerian-pidgin-english/ http://www.salvationpress.pdf&h=NAQHOmIup http://www.facebook.transparent.com/watch?v=nDn8Hm_jsIQ&feature=related http://www.nigeriavillagesquare.about.com/articles/farooq-a-kperogi/10-most-annoying-nigerianmedia-english-expressions.com/od/mo/g/Nigerian-English.ac.