The Impact Of Nigerian Pidgin On The Written English Of Senior Secondary School Students

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The Impact Of Nigerian Pidgin On The Written English Of Senior Secondary School Students


Abstract


This study is on the impact of Nigeria pidgin on the written on English of senior secondary school students. The total population for the study is 200 staff of selected secondary schools in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state. The researcher used questionnaires as the instrument for the data collection. Descriptive Survey research design was adopted for this study. A total of 133 respondents made principals, vice principals administration, senior staff and junior staff were used for the study. The data collected were presented in tables and analyzed using simple percentages and frequencies


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background to the Study

The English language in Nigeria is a second language. It is a second language because Nigerians already had their first language or Mother Tongue (L1) before the incursion of this foreign language called ‘English’ into the country. In this instance a foreign language (English) left its native environment and met with another language or languages (Nigerian indigenous languages). It is true that the culture and values of the people are embedded in the language they speak. As such it is said that ‘language is culture’ and none can be separated from each other. Language is a very important factor in the educational process. It is an indispensable aspect of communication.

It has very strong basics for creative thought and without it there would be no meaningful progress in civilization and culture, Makinde (1997:7). The above citation explores the powers of language as a tool for communication and creative thought. Language is used to communicate ideas through the process of thinking, translated to either speech or writing. Therefore the language of wider communication of a country is crucial to the progress and growth of that nation, even academically. Nigeria is a diverse and multi-ethnic country with about four hundred and ten (410) languages Mackey (1992:12). However, with the introduction of the English language in 1842, these numerous languages have influenced, or if we might say, interfered in the way Nigerians use language on the lexical, grammatical and phonological levels of communication. Though English is Nigeria’s lingua franca, a unique brand of English has emerged to suit Nigeria’s socio-linguistic and communication needs (which is to an extent a deviation from standard British English). This has led to a localization or domestication. Since English has been influenced by our indigenous languages, the way we write will also reflect this metamorphosis. These variations we referred to as “peculiar Nigerianisms”.

English language did not come to Nigeria just on its own. Its incursion into Nigeria was caused by lots of factors like trading, slavery, colonization and missionary activities in Nigerian by the Europeans and this was done in phases. As such English as a language is a borrowed blanket which has been converted to a personal use by the borrowers so as to suit their purposes.

The exact date that English language usage started in Nigeria is not certain. However, it is believed that the first intimate contact between the British and some ethnic groupings in Nigeria was in Southern Nigeria. This must have been at some period before the Atlantic slave trade.

The term pidgin is used to refer to a language which develops in a situation where speakers of different languages have a need to communicate but do not share a common language. Once a pidgin has emerged, it is generally learned as a second language and used for communication among people who speak differently. Language is the most creative and unlimited instrument for social communication and it helps us to understand the deep seated social relevance, culture involvement and the human relatedness of language. Having said this, we can therefore agree that pidgin is a language of its own and not just a supplementary tongue as some people see it, since it serves as an unlimited instrument of social communication especially in a multilingual community as Lagos State.

According to R. Linton he states that “the culture of a society is the way of life of its members, the collection of ideas and habits which they learn, share and transmit from generation to generation” (12). These cultures, ideas and habits can only be transmitted from generation to generation through language. In linguistic, every language is considered adequate to represent the communicative needs of its people and as such should not be made to suffer any biases. This cannot be said of Nigerian Pidgin even though it is a language because various attempts have been made by different faction to eradicate the use of Nigerian Pidgin English. These attempts have however been unsuccessful because of the significant value the language has to its users. It is a language that has brought people together in spite of their differences in ancestral culture and language by creating a local culture for itself which blends ideas from different cultures. According to Adetugbo [1984:8], a certain Oba in Benin was reported to have spoken Portuguese. The language was in use for economic interest and because it was the language of commerce and diplomacy in the ancient Benin kingdom. Actually, the advent of English in Nigerian can be classified into three major periods, namely: the period before the missionary activities, the period during missionary activities and the period after the amalgamation of the southern and northern protectorate. It is important to add that there is no clear cut demarcation between these periods as each period shades into another period. The structure of Pidgin is quite different from that of Standard English in its Phonology, Morphology and Syntax. Nigeria is fast colonizing the West African region with Pidgin English. Pidgin English as spoken in Nigeria is a kind of language derived from English, Portuguese and Dutch. Pidgin English as spoken in Nigeria is interesting with very unique pronunciations.

Words in Standard English could turn out to mean or denote something else in Pidgin. As Platt, Weber and Ho accurately observe in their book, The New Englishes, (RKP 1984) “In some nations…the New Englishes have developed a noticeable range of different varieties linked strongly to the socio-economic and educational backgrounds of their speakers.” It borrows words, patterns and images freely from the mother-tongue and finds expression in a very limited English vocabulary.Critics on the poor performance of English language at the West African School Certification Examination have always commented that Pidgin English has not only affected students in their subjects area but also hampered their chances in other disciplines. It is the mind of the researcher to investigate and verify the above claim and possibly ascertain the extent of the negative effect of Pidgin English among students in Senior Secondary School in Nigeria The researcher in this work is out to investigate the influence of Pidgin English on the use of Standard English among senior secondary school students and suggest the possible means of eliminating the adverse effects Stern (1983:152), It is on records that as from 1553 English men paid frequent visits to the Nigerian shores, especially the ports of Ancient Benin and old Calabar, and the type of communication which evolved between the English men and the Nigerians was a simplified kind of communication in English called Pidgin. Note, however that Portuguese and not English was probably the earliest European language to be used in Nigeria. The global spread of the English language is one of the most far-reaching linguistic phenomena of our time. Evidence of this worldwide phenomenon of language contact, variation and change can be seen through such designations as world Englishes, new Englishes, modern Englishes, West African Englishes, South African English, Australian English, Indian English, to mention just a few. The phrase “Nigerian English” has also appeared in the last four decades or so. Out of the Nigerian variety of English some sub-varieties have emerged like the Nigerian Pidgin English.


1.2 Statement of the Problem

A pidgin is a simplified language that develops as a means of communication between two or more groups that do not have a language in common, in situations such as trade. Pidgins are not the native language of any speech community, but are learnt as second languages. Pidgins usually have low prestige with respect to other languages. The word ‘pidgin’, formerly also spelled ‘pigion’, derives from a Chinese Pidgin English pronunciation for ‘business’. This was originally used to describe Chinese Pidgin English; it was later generalized to refer to any pidgin. Pidgin may also be used as the specific name for a local pidgin in places where they are spoken. For example, the name of ‘Tok Pisin’ is derived from the English words ‘talk pidgin’, and its speakers usually refer to it simply as “Pidgin” when speaking it.

The use of Pidgin English in our society has assumed a wider dimension than previous periods in history. The widespread is so much that it has spilled over into classrooms in schools. According to Akporero (1989), the use of Pidgin English by student and teachers in our school has assumed alarming proportions that there is no longer any unidentifiable factor as causative. From Akporero’s assertion, only one characteristic remains prone factor- literacy. The implication here is that literacy is tending to accelerate the use of Pidgin English rather than eliminating it Akporero is of opinion that Nigerian Pidgin is a language of its own, whose formation is consequent on a multiple borrowing of different words from more than one language. This in itself goes to emphasize the convenience of its use especially by persons from different linguistic communities who have no need for a bi-lingual intermediary. Gilbert Ansré (1971) observes that “it is not quite correct to say that one language has influenced the other. By this, he implies that language itself is an abstraction from human social behavior and so one language cannot influence another except through the mediation of users of the two languages. Thus when we say one language has influenced another, we are merely inferring that the speaking of the language have incorporated items of another in their own. The problems were created:

Problems in students spoken and written of English language which often result to mass failure in English language secondary school examination.


1.3 Objective of the Study

The purpose of this study is;

  1. To examine the impact of Nigerian pidgin on the written English of selected senior secondary school students in Lagos State.
  2. To evaluate the impact of Nigerian pidgin on students performance in English language.
  3. To determine the reason why students communicate in Nigerian Pidgin.

1.4 Research Hypothesis

For the successful completion of the study, the following research hypotheses were formulated by the researcher;

H0: There is no significant difference between Nigerian pidgin and written English in some selected senior secondary school student in Lagos State.

H1: There is significant difference between Nigerian pidgin and written English in some selected senior secondary school student in Lagos State.

H02: There is no significant relationship between student’s communication with Nigerian pidgin and English language

H2:There is significant relationship between student’s communication with Nigerian pidgin and English language


1.5 Significance of the Study

As more and more people including students speak pidgin, the need therefore arises for the examination of its influence on standard English among the secondary school students in Nigeria. However, the study will look into the following significance.

the researcher will bring to light the possibility of standardizing the use of Nigerian Pidgin English and finding solutions to the problems caused by Nigerian Pidgin English in the proper mastery of the standard English.

The result of this study may expose the teachers in secondary schools in Lagos state in particular and in Nigerian in general to the problems posed by Nigerian pidgin in learning of English language and will enable them adopt corrective methods to suit students need especially in a multi-lingua society like ours.


1.6 Scope and Limitation of the Study

The scope of the study covers the impact of Nigeria pidgin on the written on English of senior secondary school students. The researcher encounters some constrain which limited the scope of the study;

a) Availability of Research Material:

The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study

b) Time:

The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.

c) Organizational Privacy:

Limited Access to the selected auditing firm makes it difficult to get all the necessary and required information concerning the activities


1.7 Definitions of Terms

Pidgin:

The word pidgin seems to have had its origin in the inability of 19th century Chinese to articulate the word business. It came out as bigeon or bidgin, and since it is a short step from B to P, it finally flattened out as pidgin.

Pidgin can be defined as a simplified form of speeech formed out of one or more existing languages and used by people who have no other language in common.

A pidgin is a new language which develops in situations where speakers of different languages need to communicate but don’t share a common language.

Written:

Written is a method of representing language


1.8 Organization of the Study

This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows

  • Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), historical background, statement of problem, objectives of the study, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope and limitation of the study, definition of terms and historical background of the study.
  • Chapter two highlights the theoretical framework on which the study is based, thus the review of related literature.
  • Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study.
  • Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.
  • Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study

Chapter Five


Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Introduction

It is important to ascertain that the objective of this study was on a study on the impact of Nigeria pidgin on the written on English of senior secondary school students. In the preceding chapter, the relevant data collected for this study were presented, critically analyzed and appropriate interpretation given. In this chapter, certain recommendations made which in the opinion of the researcher will be of benefits in addressing the impact of Nigeria pidgin on the written on English of senior secondary school students


5.2 Summary

This study was on the impact of Nigeria pidgin on the written on English of senior secondary school students. Three objectives were raised which included:To examine the impact of Nigerian pidgin on the written English of selected senior secondary school students in Lagos State, to evaluate the impact of Nigerian pidgin on students performance in English language, to determine the reason why students communicate in Nigerian Pidgin.In line with these objectives, two research hypotheses were formulated and two null hypotheses were posited. The total population for the study is 200 staff of selected secondary schools in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state. The researcher used questionnaires as the instrument for the data collection. Descriptive Survey research design was adopted for this study. A total of 133 respondents made principals,vice principals administration, senior staff and junior staff were used for the study. The data collected were presented in tables and analyzed using simple percentages and frequencies


5.3 Conclusion

The study explored situations that make students speak Pidgin English and whether the speaking of Pidgin English has any serious negative repercussions on their performance in examinations, especially WAEC examinations. The researcher visited some secondary schools. There is inadequate supply of reading and supplementary readers in some basic schools. The researcher visited some basic schools in the course of the research, and it was clear that the supply of those books were inadequate. Some of the schools have limited copies of reading books, and this does not augur well for the teaching and learning of English language in those schools.


5.4 Recommendation

There is general demand for improvement in the standard of written and spoken English in schools in the country. This should have a national focus so that educators as well as parents should let students see that it is good to speak impeccable English language. When this is done, students will take pride in using Standard English. Therefore teachers who speak Pidgin English and encourage students to use it should put a stop to that.


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