A Critical Examination Of The Communicative Implications Of Nigerian English Usage

Project and Seminar Material for Linguistics and Communication

A Critical Examination Of The Communicative Implications Of Nigerian English Usage

Chapter One


1.1 Background Of The Study

In Nigeria, the most prominent and widely used legacy of colonization is English. Its effective implementation has earned it the position of an official language, implying that it will be used in politics, administration, law, religion, government, and governance, as well as in education and creative writing. It now has a larger and larger communication area in Nigeria’s multilingual landscape. English in Nigeria is placed in the inter concentric circle in Kachru’s (1986) framework and conceptualisation of English as a world language, implying that its contact with indigenous languages and people from various ethnolinguistic and sociocultural backgrounds motivated the hybridisation and production of variants of the language. Among other academics, Brosnahan (1958), Banjo (1971), Adekunle (1979), Bamgbose (1982, 1995), and Akindele and Adegbite (2005) have offered insights into the many types of English used in Nigeria. The ethnolinguistic origin of speakers and their degree of education are two of the most important criteria used in categorizing them. Separately, the two aspects generate regional variation, one with phonetic variations originating from mother tongue interference and the other with a distinction between standard and non-standard English usage. The phonological, syntactic, and lexico-semantic diversity exhibited in English’s oral and written forms represents the interaction of English with Nigerian languages (Ekpe, 2012; Aremu, 2015). These sociolinguistic indicators have resulted in English variants that may be regarded as “native” to Nigeria. Nigerian English use reflects the users’ indigenous and social traditions (Aremu, 2015; Ikoro, 2018). In this regard, Uwen and Ukam (2020) state that because Nigeria is a multilingual country, English serves as a language of integration; it is the linguistic medium that harnesses the rich sociolinguistic input from the languages.

Literary works abound with the idiosyncrasies that distinguish Nigerian English use. Wole Soyinka’s The Beautification of Area Boy is one of them (henceforth TBOAB). The play, which was first performed in 1995, depicts the complicated street life of Nigeria’s post-independence cosmopolitan metropolis, as exemplified by the bustling Lagos. Sanda, a society-induced University dropout, oversees the formation of a union by three gangsters and becomes the voice of the oppressed and impoverished civilian people. Power is pitted against persistent poverty, helplessness, inequality, and injustice that demarcate social class and language lines through displaced Maroko settlers and Sanda-headed criminals, as well as the flouting of ill-gotten riches by the privileged. TBOAB’s social differentiation of characters offers two stories about Nigeria: sociopolitical and sociolinguistic, which eventually provide clues to the relationship between social power and language usage, resulting in linguistic inflexibility and imbalances.

TBOAB by Wole Soyinka has gotten a lot of scholarly attention. For example, Amonyeze (2016) examines the play’s historical, sociopolitical, and economic dimensions, concluding that TBOAB is a dramatic record of Nigeria’s various historical periods, particularly the military era, which was marked by widespread immorality and the struggle of the underprivileged to reclaim her moral fiber. Ali’s (2016) work on TBOAB adopts a critical discourse analysis approach to the play’s linguistic component. TBOAB’s textual, political, and social components, according to Ali, demonstrate the disproportional use of language in Nigeria to represent power and injustice. Nigerian literary works in English are characterized by the ‘appropriation’ of language to express the Nigerian sociocultural experience. Achebe (1965) had previously addressed the language debate in African literature by claiming that it is the English language, not the writer, that should be “moulded” or “twisted” to capture and communicate the unique African experience without jeopardizing the wider reading audience’s mutual understanding. Bamiro (2007) further claims that Nigerian English in literary texts often reveals the principles behind Nigerians’ unique linguistic behavior. The study is based on the concept that in Soyinka’s TBOAB, the employment of characters to construct the Nigerian sociolinguistic condition in the fictional space has yet to be (sufficiently) examined, drawing on Achebe and Bamiro’s cautionary suggestion. The lack of this creates a research gap, which the study aims to fill. The focus of the research is on the characters’ complex linguistic backgrounds, which demonstrate the uniqueness of Nigerian English usage. As a result, the study will give insightful insights about its many forms and characteristics, led by appropriate social and situational circumstances, which will help language and literary academics.

1.2 Statement Of The Problem

In several ways, the English spoken in Nigeria differs from that spoken in other countries. Some Nigerian expressions appear to be a mix of English and local languages. This is evident at all language levels, including lexis, syntax, phonology, and semantics. The preceding scenario exemplifies the real condition of most Nigerian users’ English, even some educated speakers. Without a question, the situation is concerning. What is the essence of language, then, if extra effort is required to explain some unusual phrases that are distinct from the conventional forms in terms of lexis, syntax, semantics, and phonology during communication, whether in voice or writing? Or, given that English is a language of power and intellectualization, where does the power to conquer the globe lie if some Nigerians’ English can only be understood by other Nigerians? Such linguistic presence in a nation where English is claimed to be the official language should be investigated.

1.3 Objective Of The Study

The primary aim of this study is to examine the implications of Nigerian English usage. Thus, the following objectives;

  1. To determine whether the variety of English language is truly Nigerian English.
  2. To determine whether the English used by Nigerians is a deviation or a variant.
  3. To ascertain the implication of the features of Nigerian English with regards to communication.

1.4 Research Questions

The following questions guide this study;

  1. Is the variety of English language truly Nigerian English?
  2. Is the English used by Nigerians a deviation or a variant?
  3. What is the implication of the features of Nigerian English with regards to communication?

1.5 Significance Of The Study

The importance of this study stems from the English language’s major position both worldwide and, of course, in Nigeria’s multilingual, multicultural society. It is “a window on the globe” for the worldwide community, and it is a unifying force for Nigeria’s multilingual countries. Based on the foregoing, the English language in Nigeria should be of world-class quality, since anything less, such as the nativized form, may obstruct efficient communication. “It is better not to communicate at all, because no action will be done, than to convey what is misinterpreted, because the listener may take the incorrect action,” Onochie cautions. The investigation’s findings will highlight the serious consequences of the language’s local flavor in Nigeria, as well as assist users recognize that some “Nigerian English” expressions are a “misnomer.” In other words, Nigerian English users would be inclined to recognize and avoid contradictory variations in Nigerian English. They should not believe that Nigerian English has totally matured and developed. Knowing the outcome would also allow ESL teachers to determine which English language model should be used for pedagogical objectives. This investigation’s findings would be valuable as reference material for academics studying in similar fields once again (s).

1.6 Scope Of The Study

The research will be limited to examining the features of the English language’s local variation in Nigeria. The local flavor obtained by English usage in Nigeria will be investigated through slang phrases, syntactic and lexical changes, semantic shift, and so on. The serious consequences of these on the overall growth of the standard Nigerian variety will be underlined. Students’ phrases and those of public English language users in Nigeria will be used to create a corpus of these variations.

1.7 Limitation Of The Study

During the course of this research, the researcher was faced with limitations ranging from lack of finance to insufficient materials to be used to delve in deeper into this study.

1.8 Definition Of Terms

1. English Language:

The most spoken and prominent language in all of the world.

Chapter Two

Review Of Literature


Our focus in this chapter is to critically examine relevant literature that would assist in explaining the research problem and furthermore recognize the efforts of scholars who had previously contributed immensely to similar research. The chapter intends to deepen the understanding of the study and close the perceived gaps.

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