The Influence Of English Language On Our Nigerian Indigenous Languages; Examples Of Borrowing From English Into Yoruba By UNILORIN Undergraduates

Project and Seminar Material for Linguistics and Communication

The Influence Of English Language On Our Nigerian Indigenous Languages; Examples Of Borrowing From English Into Yoruba By UNILORIN Undergraduates


Abstract


Generally speaking, it seems unlikely that English will cease to be used elaborately in Nigeria in a foreseeable future. This research work therefore will find out if students in the University of Ilorin borrow words from English in to Yoruba in their day to day interaction and if they do to identify this borrowings. The sample population used in this work is 80 (Eighty) students of the University of Ilorin and these students were randomly chosen from four faculties in this University and they are all Yoruba language speakers with the use of instruments like tape reader and audio cassette.

From the data analyzed, it is observed that the Yoruba speaker use their language predominantly during communication not only borrow in most times a single lexical item from English and in corporate it within their utterances. Code-mixing, as a sociolinguistic phenomenon, is a familiar practice through out the world, most especially among bilinguals who combine certain linguistic items is from two different languages. In this regard, it was discovered that language contact also result in borrowing from one language to another.


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 General Introduction

It is a well established fact that English language has established itself firmly in Nigeria thus, its importance cannot be over emphasized. Apart from being an official language. English language is the rope that ties members of the different speech communities together in continuing interrelationships. It is the common instrument that they draw on for socio-cultural identification.

English language is said to be a human specific mode of expressing our thought through the verbal (i.e spoken and written) and non-verbal means. With this definition, we shall reiterate that English language necessarily serves humans in a multitude of ways: English language is said to have a great impact on the cognitive development of man: Man is able to express his thoughts and view.

The majority of world English speakers use English either as a second or third language and exists in an environment where in the least, bilingualism is the norm even though English may be the official language. In many countries, including Nigeria, English is the main language of instruction in schools (especially after primary education level) and it is used in business and other official transactions and interactions.

English came into Nigeria through colonization centuries ago and three main groups of people emerged from this contact of English with the indigenous languages of Nigeria. These groups are the British, the new Nigerian elite trained in Britain and the native indigenous population trained in Nigeria. A local variant of English emerged from the mixing of those groups of people. This local variant of English was coloured by influence from local languages. Borrowing of indigenous words into English is a result of this contact and these borrowed words are what we call ‘loan words’.

Today as English is used in almost every facet of life in Nigeria, it still comes in contact with practically all indigenous Nigerian languages and when Nigerians speak English words from their various indigenous languages occur in their speech

This research work therefore, will find out if students in the University of Ilorin borrow words from English into Yoruba in their day to day interaction and if they do, to identify these borrowings.

We shall also find out the sources of these borrowings. We hope to trace them to the various indigenous languages and which they use in a communication. In other words, effort shall be made extensively on the scope of the study and methodology involved in the collection of data.


1.2 Objectives of the Study

The primary focus of this study is to examine the influence of English language on our Nigerian indigenous language (Yoruba); specifically, the study seeks to:

  1. Find out if students in the University of Ilorin borrow words from English in their daily conversation.
  2. To determine the extent of language borrowing by students in the University of Ilorin.

1.3 Research Question

The following research questions guided this study:

  1. Do students in the University of Ilorin borrow English words in to their indigenous conversation?
  2. What is the extent of language borrowing by students of University of Ilorin?

1.4 Significance of the Study

This study is an awareness oriented kind of study. It bring to fore the level of acceptability and utilization of an indigenous identity referred to as Language. It furthermore, shows the relationship that exist between two languages as a result of language contact. This study will help the consciousness of language speakers towards the preservation of cultural heritage.


1.5 Scope and Delimitation of the Study

This study intends to deal with the influence of English language on our indigenous Nigerian languages. To this end, we will focus on Yoruba as our case study. This is because Yoruba is the predominant indigenous language of the geographical areas in which this research is being carried out. We then examine if students borrow words from English into Yoruba and specifically if they indulge in code mixing when they communicate in Yoruba by interspersing the Yoruba speech with English words or phrases.

The scope of this study will also cover why and when these students code-mix. This study does not concern itself with error analysis. Therefore attention will not be focused at correcting sentences collected in the process of our analysis.

The examples of borrowing used in our data are English borrowings into Yoruba. This is due to the fact that our data are based on Yoruba which is one of the Nigerian indigenous languages which borrow English language into their languages. The researcher in this research has decided to limit herself to Yoruba language because of the geographical area she finds herself.

This research work will pay attention to whether English language has a positive or negative influence on Yoruba one of the Nigerian indigenous languages so has to find out whether English language aids the growth of Yoruba language or impedes it?


1.6 Methodology

The sample population that will be used in this study is 80 (eighty) students of the University of Ilorin. These students shall be randomly chosen from four faculties in the University of Ilorin, which are:-

  1. Faculty of Arts
  2. Faculty of Agriculture
  3. Faculty of Engineering and
  4. Faculty of Law

The students that will be used as subjects from the selected faculties are all Yoruba language speakers.

The instruments to be used in the collection of our data are tape recorder and audio cassette in the recording of some natural conversations of undergraduate students of the University of Ilorin. Eighty conversations shall be recorded and the techniques of sampling shall be used by numbering the conversations from one to eighty. The conversations with even numbers would be selected and analyzed.

Specifically, 400 level students of four faculties shall be studied and analyzed because it is felt that this category of students know enough English to be affected by the phenomenon being investigated.


Chapter Four


Summary, Findings and Conclusion

4.0 Introduction

In this chapter we shall present a brief summary of the whole research work based on our findings. Also, appropriate conclusion shall be done


4.1 Summary

By and large, efforts have been made in this long essay towards examining the sociolinguistic concept; the borrowing and code-mixing among Unilorin undergraduates. In other to achieve this aim, this research has taken down the utterances of certain groups of students in their respective faculties with respect to how they code-mix the linguistic items of English and Yoruba during conversation.

Chapter one examined a brief history of English language in Nigeria and then talked about its usefulness in Nigeria as a whole. It then went on to discuss how students at the University of Ilorin borrow words from English into Yoruba in their day to day interaction which is a reflection of code-mixing. In addition, it addressed why and when code-mixing is used on the campus.

In chapter two, we made a review of literature related to the research topic there by discussing the advent of English language and some factors that contributed to the survival of English language in the country. We also discussed some of the functions of English language in Nigerian such as instruments of education, integration of unity intranational and international functions, English as an official language and above all, as Nigeria’s second language. In chapter two, we also review what language contact is and the effects with respect to borrowing it has on our indigenous languages. And finally, we made a review on the influences of English language on our Nigerian indigenous languages both positively and negatively.

Chapter three presented the research methodology; it stated the data on instances of borrowing (code-mixing) and analyzed the data in full.

Finally, chapter four summarized and concluded the essay by recapitulating the salient issues regarding borrowings by users of English among the sample population.


4.2 Findings

In the above given sets of data, the findings or observations are as follows:

It is observed that whereas some borrowed words from English into Yoruba are loan translations or calques, others are loan blends. In other words, a speaker of Yoruba can borrow items from English and either assimilate them directly by translation without any linguistic modification, or make the words conform with the linguistic system of their language, hence, modified respectively e.g. ‘get’, ‘like’, ‘pretend’ and ‘church.’

Also, we find out that in the sentences (data) above, the Yoruba speakers use their language predominantly during communication but only borrow in most times, a single lexical item from English and incorporate it within their utterance. It is only on a few occasions that the speakers borrow more than one lexical item in each sentence.

Another finding in our data is connected with the structural positions in which the borrowed concepts (words) from English can occur within the Yoruba native sentences. We discover that the majority of the borrowed elements occur at the medial structural position linearly in the Yoruba sentences followed by some occurring sentence-finally while very few ones are inserted at the sentence-initial slot.

Finally, we observe that in Yoruba-English code-mixing can take place in any sentence type in the recipient language-Yoruba. That is whether in a declarative, interrogative or command sentence, the Yoruba speakers can entertain Yoruba English code-mixing.


4.3 Conclusion

Code-mixing, as a sociolinguistic phenomenon, is a familiar practice throughout the world, most especially among those who are bilingual in which they combine certain linguistic items from two different languages as a linguistic reflection of borrowing.

University of Ilorin whose undergraduate students are our case study in this research work is an academic community and English language is the official language in the institution. So while the people could be said to be fluent in English they nonetheless still have their mother tongue which sometimes does not take care of all the concepts especially the ones they have acquired through formal education.

This is why code-mixing appears to be the main feature of the academics using their mother tongue words such as ‘block’ ‘church’ ‘office’ ‘bread’ ‘skirt’ ‘card’ and so on are commonly used not only by literate people but also by those who have not been to schools at all.

These words and many could then be treated as loan words because of their low frequency of usage among Nigerians and most importantly because they denote concepts which are alien to us.


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