Pragmatic Features Of Nigerian English (A Case Study Of Selected Poems Of Bayo Adebowale)

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Pragmatic Features Of Nigerian English (A Case Study Of Selected Poems Of Bayo Adebowale)


Abstract


Several theories have been developed by linguists all over the world in explaining pragmatics as a sub-field of linguistics. What is central in the contributions of the scholars is identification of “invisible” meanings from what is said or written by the intended listeners as intentionally meant by speakers/writers of such utterance that have been made or written. In this study, efforts have been made to identify the pragmatic use of Nigeria English in relation to some utterance in African Melody. This is undergone to find out the effects of the Nigerians pragmatic use of the language on other world users of English and the aspect of Nigerian English that are beyond international intelligibility. The study therefore concludes that the ability of other users of English to understand meaningfully features of Nigerian English in the utterances presented in Bayo Adebowale’s African Melodyis basically dependent on degrees of experience, background information, ability to identify necessary speech acts and contextual competences about Nigerian socio-cultural setting shared by other users of English.


Table Of Content


Preliminary Page(s)

  • Title
  • Declaration
  • Approval
  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgement
  • Abstract
  • Table of Content

Chapter One

1.0 Introduction

  • 1.1 Background To The Study
  • 1.2 Statement Of The Research Problem
  • 1.3 Aims And Objectives
  • 1.4 Scope Of The Study
  • 1.5 Justification Of The Study
  • 1.6 Bayo Adebowale: Biographical Sketch

Chapter Two

2.0 Literature Review

  • 2.1 Pragmatics
  • 2.1.1 Austin’s Speech Acts Theory
  • 2.1.2 Grice’s Cooperative Principle And Conversational Implicature
  • 2.2 Nigerian English
  • 2.2.1 Standardisation Of Nigerian English
  • 2.2.2 Characteristics Of Nigerian English
  • 2.3 Usage Of Nigerian English
  • 2.4 Review Of Some Works On Pragmatic Features Of Nigerian English

Chapter Three

3.0 Data Analysis

  • 3.1 Introduction
  • 3.2 Data Presentation And Textual Analysis

Chapter Four

4.0 Findings, Summary And Conclusion

  • 4.1 Findings
  • 4.2 Summary
  • 4.3 Conclusion
  • 4.4 Recommendation
  • Bibliography

Chapter One


1.0 Introduction

1.1 Background To The Study

English language is a language that is foreign to the Nigerian environment, it came with the British colonialists, but after the departure of the colonialists in Nigeria, English language continued to flourish. The survival of English language in Nigerian environment is not by luck, but because it has been nativised to suit Nigerian environment and meet the need of the Nigerian users of English (Bamgbose, 1995:1).

The origin of English language in Nigeria can be traced to 1553, when Britons visited the coastal areas of Nigeria for slave trade. The means of communication between the Nigerian traders and the Britons, then, was in Pidgin English. With the abolition of slave trade, British explorers started moving beyond the coastal areas, penetrating deep into Nigeria to promote ‘legitimate trade’ (Alabi, 2003:177). The British traders were followed by Christian missionaries who came with the aim of evangelizing Nigeria. These missionaries established mission schools where English was taught primarily to enable the converts read the Bible in English and help the missionaries in the activities of the Church.

Around 1900, the Northern and southern protectorates of Nigeria came under the rule of Great Britain and the British colonial government established schools to complement those of the missionaries. Thus, through formal education and government policies on education that made English the language of instruction in schools, English language became formalised and was able to spread in Nigeria.

In 1960, when Nigeria gained her independence, the colonial masters left, but their language – English did not leave. It has remained and survived alongside the indigenous languages. In fact, Bamgbose (1971:35) believes that English language is unarguably the most important asset the British colonialist gave to Nigeria due to its functions as the official language and lingual franca in Nigeria, to mention a few of its many functions.

It is however no doubt that the English used in Nigeria, called Nigerian English, has certain features distinguishing it from other varieties of English used elsewhere in the world. These features include phonology, morpho-syntactic, lexico-semantic and pragmatic.

This essay shall attempt to look at the pragmatic features of Nigerian English, which are the aspects that reflect the cultures, traditions and philosophies of Nigerians, as used in Nigerian literatures using the selected poems of Bayo Adebowale as a case study. This essay shall also attempt to provide answers to research questions like:

  1. Which pragmatic features of Nigeria English can be found in the selected poems?
  2. How has the pragmatic features of Nigerian English present in Nigerian literatures contributed to the meaningfulness of these literary works and creativity of Nigerian writers, using the selected poems of Bayo Adebowale as a case study?
  3. Should Nigerian English, because of its pragmatic features, be regarded as deviation from or variation of World English?

1.2 Statement Of The Research Problem

According to Kugbayi, some advocates of Nigerian English like Brosnaham (1958), Bamgbose (1971), Banjo (1971), Adesanoye (1973), Odumuh (1987) and Jowitt (1991), it is not all forms of English spoken in the country that can be regarded as standard Nigerian English. They identify non-standard Nigerian englihs in their different categories and the standard Nigerian English which is very close to standard British English. As a matter of fact, this variety has to be socially acceptable, nationally and internationally intelligible (3).

It has be observed by Aremu, cited in Kugbayi, language as a dynamic phenomenon has the ability to adapt with different situations and is pliable enough to be bent by users for the purpose of fulfilling their intra-national linguistic need in a given conversational context without necessarily considering international intelligibility factors as long as their conversational goals are achieved, As the language is no longer foreign to Nigeria. It is expected that participants in speech would not always rely on general knowledge of English system and convention, but also on their knowledge of culture, convention and the factors of situation in which communication takes place (4). For instance, when a speaker of Nigerian English makes an utterance, such an utterance can be intelligible to another speaker of English only if the latter share the same background knowledge with the former especially when the utterance appeals to culture and convention specially associated with the Nigerian society in reference to Bayo Adebowale’s African Melody. Although the work is written in English, it contains some functional elements that are somewhat alien to international speakers of English. That is why the use of Nigerian English is not enough to guarantee international intelligibility.

This essay shall attempt to look at the pragmatic features of Nigerian English which are the aspects that reflect the culture, tradition and philosophy of Nigerians, as used in Nigerian literature using Bayo Adebowale’s African Melody as a case study.


1.3 Aims And Objectives

This research aims to investigate how the pragmatic features of Nigerian English convey the cultures and traditions of Nigerians, using the selected poems of Bayo Adebowale as a case study.

The objectives of this research are:

  1. To investigate the presence of the pragmatic features of Nigerian English in the selected poems of Bayo Adebowale.
  2. To examine how the pragmatic features of Nigerian English have been deployed by Nigerian writers to enhance the meaningfulness of their works.
  3. To see how these pragmatic features of Nigerian English have contributed to the creativity of Nigerian writers, using Bayo Adebowale as a case study.
  4. To develop an empirical viewpoint on whether Nigerian English is a deviation from or variation of World English.
  5. To see how language can be affected by the environment in which it is used.

1.4 Scope Of The Study

The peculiar features of Nigerian English include phonological, morpho-syntactic, lexico-semantic and pragmatic. This research shall focus on the pragmatic features of Nigerian English as used in Nigerian literary works using the selected poems of Bayo Adebowale as a case study. The pragmatic features of Nigerian English have been identified by scholars like Akere (1978), Bamgbose (1995), Adedimeji (2007), etc. This research shall employ the pragmatic features of Nigerian English identified by Adedimeji (2007) in analysing the selected poems of Bayo Adebowale.


1.5 Justification Of The Study

The attempt at nativising English language in Nigeria according to Bamgbose (1995:20), has three aspects: linguistics, pragmatic and creative. The first aspect, linguistics, has received a lot of attention from scholars like Odumuh (1981), Adegbija (1989), Jowitt (1991), Bamiro (1994), etc. while to the best of the researcher’s knowledge, not much has been done on the pragmatic aspect on which the third, creative, depends. This study shall therefore focus on the pragmatic aspect but it will be different from other works on pragmatic features like those of Akere (1978), Adetugbo (1986), Bamgbose (1995) and so on because it will concentrate on the pragmatic aspect of Nigerian English as used in Nigerian literatures.

Also, language and culture are said to be interwoven, because language conveys the cultures of its users. Therefore, the researcher is embarking on this research to see how the English (a foreign language) used in the Nigerian environment has been able to reflect the cultures of its Nigerian users.

This research will be of use to other researchers on Nigerian English, linguists and other individuals interested in the field of language.


1.6 Bayo Adebowale: Biographical Sketch

Bayo Adebowale, a poet, novelist, short story writer, critic and Librarian, was born on the 6th of June, 1944 in Adeyipo village, Lagelu Local Government Area of Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria. He attended St. Andrew Primary School, Bamgbola, Igbo – Elerin district of Ibadan for the primary school education; Local Authority Secondary Modern school, Aperin, Ibadan for the secondary school education. Upon graduation, he served as pupil teacher before gaining admission into Baptist College Ede in 1967. As a student in Baptist College, Ede, Bayo Adebowale served as the editor of the school magazine The Echo. In 1971, he was admitted to read English at the University of Ibadan, where he graduated with Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) in English in 1974.

He worked in the Western State Public Commission as an education officer (English) before taking to the job of lecturing at Oyo State College of Education, Ila Orangun in 1987. When Osun State was created out of the old Oyo state, he was redeployed to the Polytechnic, Ibadan, where he, at various times, became a Senior Principal Lecturer, Head of Department, Acting Dean and Deputy Rector between 1999 – 2003. He completed his PhD in Literature in English language at the University of Ilorin in May, 1997.

Bayo Adebowale has published many poems, short stories and novels. His short story – The River Goddess won the Western State Festival of Arts Literary Competition in Ibadan, Nigeria in 1972. His poem Perdition, won the African Prize in Index on Censorship International Poetry Competition in London in 1992. He is an advocate of the grass root people and most of his works focus on rural life. In line with his passion for rural life, he established the African Heritage Research Library at Adeyipo village in Ibadan, which is the first rural community – based African studies research library on the continent.

Some of his works include The Virgin, Out of his Mind (novels), A Night of Incantations and other Poems, Village Harvest(poems), The River Goddess (short story) to mention a few.


Chapter Four


4.0 Findings, Summary And Conclusion

4.1 Findings

This work examined pragmatically the elements of Nigerian English in Bayo Adebowale’s African Melody. It acknowledges the true existence of Nigerian English and recognizes it as a variety in its own right. It is based on the acknowledgement and recognition. The work moves on to identify and analyze elements of the form of English in African Melody. In the light of the above, the following findings were made.

  1. This study finds out that language can be affected by the social environment in which it is used.
  2. This study finds out that there are elements of Nigerian English in Bayo Adebowale’s African Melody which can hinder comprehension among other speakers of English. This can be traced to:
    • Economic situation of Nigeria as a country
    • Religious inclination of Nigerians and the Nigerian society.
    • Political or hegemonic uniqueness of the Nigeria society.
    • Reflection of different ethnic ideologies with each peculiar to a linguistic group where it is used in the ethnically heterogeneous Nigeria society.
    • Socio-cultural values which are unique to Nigeria as a cultural environment.
  3. This study finds out that other users of English will need to be able to operate contextually on the social and psychological world view of the Nigerian society in order for them to meaningfully understand the elements of Nigerian English as presented in Bayo Adebowale’s African Melody.
  4. This study finds out that the use of Nigerian English has contributed to the creativity of Nigerian writers.
  5. This study finds out that the English language, despite its domestication in the Nigerian society, is not sufficiently/completely similar to indigenous languages. It is therefore observed that the English (Nigerian English) do not fully represent the same social reality with the indigenous languages.

4.2 Summary

This is on “pragmatic features of Nigerian English: A case study of Bayo Adebowale’s African Melody”. It is a four-chapter study, an introduction on Nigerian English and pragmatics is given with an incisive discussion on background of the study. The chapter also discusses statement of research problem, aim and objectives, significance of the study and scope of the study. Subsequently chapter two of the work reviews previous works of scholars around the world on pragmatics as a subfield of linguistics with a special attention given to contexts. The chapter also covers literature material on Nigeria usage as observed in Bayo Adebowale’s African Melody. Specifically, chapter three centres on presentation and analysis of data. Chapter four consists of findings, summary of the entire work and its conclusion.


4.3 Conclusion

This study is on “pragmatic features of Nigeria English: A case study of Bayo Adebowale’s African Melody” based on the findings, this study concludes that Nigeria English with its unique elements exists and it is a variety of English in its own right. The variety has increased the creativity of the writers and served as a means to reach wider audience/readers.

From a pragmatic point of view, the study believes that the other users of English may not generally be able to interpret sufficiently, utterance they read, from the point the writer based on these user’s conventional and ideational knowledge of English.

This study recognizes the fact that when understanding is considered in a broad sense, anybody who understands English should understand whatever is said in it especially in relation to variety of Nigeria English which is nationally acceptable and internationally intelligible. On the contrary, this study specifically sees understanding as a matter of degree, ranging from minimal understanding to total confusion or understanding. Thus, in order to achieve total understanding rather than total confusion there is a need for other users of English to acquire the pragmatics of Nigeria English as intuitively acquired by writers of Nigerian works. It is when this is achieved that readers of Nigerian works will be able to function very well not only in communicate acts in which Nigerian English is used but also in understanding meaningfully the utterances presented in Nigerian works, using Bayo Adebowale’s African Melodyas a case study.

Concisely, the ability of other users of English to understand meaningfully, elements of Nigerian English in the utterance presented in Bayo Adebowale’s African Melody, is not singularly determined by the variety of English used. Rather, it is basically dependent on degrees of experience, background information, ability to identify necessary speech acts and contextual competences about Nigerian socio-cultural setting.


4.4 Recommendation

The researcher, therefore, recommends that more writers, especially young and developing writers should adopt this style of presenting data from their novels and analyzing every sentence to the understanding of the readers.


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