The Role Of Nigeria Pidgin English In Higher Institution

Project and Seminar Material for Linguistics and Communication

The Role Of Nigeria Pidgin English In Higher Institution


The study examined the role of Nigerian Pidgin English in higher institutions with particular reference to students of Federal University Dutsinma. The research employed the monogenetic/reflexification theory and the data was gathered through the use of questionnaires and observation techniques. The analysis was based on the nature of the question asked as frequencies were generated and anaysed in simple percentages. The findings reveal that most students use Nigerian Pidgin however, not in formal settings such as lecture halls. In addition, the findings show that the Nigeria Pidgin English has effects on the students. This study concludes that the use of Pidgin in formal setting should be discouraged since it has not been given recognition. Its usage within the institution is affecting the students’ academic performance.

Chapter One

1.0 Introduction

1.1 Background to the Study

One of the most important differences between man and animal is man’s ability to speak and make others understand. as such, Language is central to human existence. The relationships between humans are molded by the language they speak. It enables them to communicate their feelings and emotions to one another. This is why Edward Sapir says “language is a purely human and non-instinctive method of communicating ideas, emotions and desires by means of voluntarily produced symbols”.

On the other hand, Bloch and Trager state that language is a system of arbitrary vocal symbols by which a social group cooperates. Henry Sweet also views language as the expression of ideas by means of speech sounds combined into words. Words are combined into sentences, this combination answering to that of ideas into thoughts.
From the above definitions, three words stand out “human”, “expression”, and “communication”. The word human implies that only human beings use language as a means of communication. Animals do communicate using sounds but their communication is certainly different from human language and is not language. According to Akindele and Adegbite language is a human phenomenon that has form which can be described in terms of units of sound (phonemes), word, morphemes, phrases, sentences and paragraphs or discourse”.

This definition shows that language has often been identified as the most unique attribute of man. It is through language that human beings grasp and understand reality and transmit it from one generation to another. This view is buttressed by Blakar who affairs that “we actually live and behave in a world of language” (4). Victoria Fromkin and Robert Rodman cited Noam Chomsky saying that when we study human language, we are approaching what some might call the human essence. Chomsky’s emphasis is on the important of language to human existence. Language is very important to every human being and without language, there won’t be communication.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Students discuss or communicate very often among themselves just as lecturers do while imparting knowledge. In the university campuses therefore, a lot of communication take place. The language of communication is also as diverse as the many tribes of students that are present. It will be expected therefore that different mother tongues will be employed in so doing. It is however known that students often make use of peculiar means of communicating such as the use of Nigerian Pidgin, code-switching and code-mixing which results from their bilingual nature.

To solve these lingering problems of the use of Nigerian Pidgin among students in higher institution, there is need to limit the use of Nigerian Pidgin in official communication which affects academic performance. The study will exploit how students use Nigeria Pidgin in their communication and studies.

1.3 Research Questions

To guide this study, the following questions will be answered;

  1. How frequently do Federal University Dutsinma students use Nigerian Pidgin English?
  2. Under what circumstances do Federal University Dutsinma students frequently use Nigerian Pidgin English?
  3. To what extent do Federal University Dutsinma students use Nigerian Pidgin English in communicating with staff and students of Federal University Dutsinma?
  4. Is there a gender difference in the use Nigerian Pidgin English among Federal University Dutsinma students?

1.4 Objectives of the Study

This work intends to examine how frequent Federal University Dutsinma students use Nigerian Pidgin and under what circumstances do Federal University Dutsinma students frequently use Nigerian Pidgin. Also the study seeks to find the extent student’s use of Nigerian Pidgin in communicating with staff and students.

The study will also examine the gender difference in the use Nigerian Pidgin among Federal University Dutsinma students and determine if there is any significant difference among male and female students in the use of NP in communication.

1.5 Significant of the Study

This study is important because its results can go a long way to finding out the causes of students’ negative or positive academic performance and if Nigerian Pidgin contributes negatively or positively to the students social interaction.

This work will in no doubt contribute to one’s knowledge and it will highlight some issues in educational planning. It will be a guide for the Federal Government in planning for an roleive educational system.

1.6 Scope and Limitations

The scope of this project is on The Role of the Nigerian Pidgin English on the Academic Performance of University Students in Nigeria. It will assess the extent students use Nigerian Pidgin English in communicating with staff and students. This research is limited to Federal University Dutsinma Study Centre even though the findings might be generic.

1.7 Definition of Terms


Take, hold, or deploy (something) as a means of accomplishing or achieving something; employ; the action of using something or the state of being used for a purpose.

Nigeria Pidgin:

Is an English-based pidgin and creole language spoken as a lingua franca across Nigeria. The language is commonly referred to as “Pidgin” or “Brokin”.


Is a learner, or someone who attends an educational institution; children, teenagers, or adults who attend a school, but it may also be other people who attend a school.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Summary

Nigerian Pidgin bridges communication gap in certain sociolinguistic situations where there are no other mutually acceptable language of communication. Nigerian Pidgin is spoken more widely than the Standard English, though the Standard English is the official language and language of education in Nigeria. It belongs strictly to the elites. It is inaccessible to illiterate member of the society but an appreciate number of uneducated Nigeria can speak or at least understand Nigerian Pidgin.

Nigerian Pidgin is widely used in Nigeria. It is used as the first language, second language and lingua franca. It is virtually used in all spheres of life. It is used in schools, media, business circles, church programmes, advertisement etc. it is used by literate, semi-literate and illiterate member of the society. The language expands on daily basis. In-spite of this wide converge, Nigerian Pidgin is mostly used in informal settings and non-governmental transaction. It is not recognized in any of the language policies made in Nigeria. Hence, official documents are not recorded in the language. Undergraduates of various higher institutions in Nigeria hold the highest percentage of Nigerian Pidgin usage. It is now fashionable for students to communicate with their course mates or peers in Nigerian Pidgin.

They equally use it in social network; this of course is mixed with a lot of jargons which are popular among the youths. Most of them speak Standard English in their formal academic pursuit. An appreciate number of the students prefer Nigeria pidgin to English in informal discourse. They claimed that Nigeria pidgin is easier to speak than English language.

5.2 Findings and Conclusion

From the research, findings showed that Nigerian Pidgin is gaining strong ground in educational environment instead of standard use of English language. Though people have conflicting attitude toward Nigerian Pidgin but the attitude is more positive than negative.

The study also revealed that Nigerian Pidgin is substantially being used in communication between staff and students on a daily basis. This in essence has an role on the flow of fluent English language communication in learning environment in and out of lecture rooms. Also the study unveiled that students frequently use Nigeria pidgin more than Standard English. The lack of roleive usage of English has prompted students to use Pidgin in their communication which has negative role on students’ academic performance. The use of Nigerian Pidgin by male and female students varies from one form to another. From the data analyzed, it is found that male students practically engage in Nigeria pidgin more than female students. This indicates that the Nigeria pidgin is more communicated by the male counterpart. The Nigerian Pidgin as a language is no doubt widely spoken, understood by the people and accepted for roleive communication by all classes, illiterate and literate, all over Nigeria. By this, one cannot but agree that Nigerian Pidgin English has an advantage over any other language to be officially adopted as a lingua franca for Nigeria and Nigerians.

In order to attain this height, it is strongly suggested that language planners must work on its codification, which will assist it in serving wider part of the populace, since it is not ethnically bound. When language planners and government indicate practical interest, the attitude of different people towards Nigeria pidgin will change drastically. To gain the proposed ground, it will be pertinent to include it in the National Policy on Education.

5.3 Recommendations

Based on the findings of this study, the following were recommended to enhance proper use of language which can promote positive communication within learning institution;

  1. The Nigerian government should improve on his language policy and accommodate Nigerian Pidgin as Nigeria’s lingua franca and a second official language of the country.
  2. Nigerian Pidgin has no stable orthography. There are different variants of the language. Linguists should endeavor to collate these variants and developed a standard form of the language.
  3. Staff and students in tertiary institution across the federation should engage the use of Standard English language in the communication rather than use of Nigerian Pidgin.
  4. The use of Nigerian Pidgin by students during communication should be discouraged by implementing laws that can combat wrong use of English in the school environment.
  5. Students should positively engage in the use of standard English more often than the use of Nigerian Pidgin in order to improve the right usage of language in communication
  6. The National Orientation Agency, the National Commission for Mass Literacy, Adult and Non-formal Education will also play significant roles in propagating, mobilizing and re-orientating the populace on the imports and rationale of using Nigerian Pidgin.

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