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THE EFFECT OF THE NIGERIAN PIDGIN ENGLISH ON THE ACADEMIC

PERFORMANCE OF UNIVERSITY STUDENTS IN NIGERIA. ACASE


STUDY OF NATIONAL OPEN UNIVERSITY OF NIGERIA STUDENTS IN
BENIN STUDY CENTRE.

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ABSTRACT
The subject matter of this research work is to examine the effect of Nigerian Pidgin English on
the academic performance among National Open University of Nigeria Students in Benin Study
Centre. The main objective of this research work was to find out the impact of Nigerian Pidgin
English on students communication and academic performance. The design used for the study is
a descriptive survey method. The numbers of students used are one hundred and twenty-five (125)
from National Open University Benin Study Centre. Four research questions were formulated to
guide the study, from which the questionnaire was designed. From the analyzed data, it showed
that students frequently use Pidgin in their daily communication within the school premises, lack
of effective usage of English language has prompted student to use Pidgin in their
communication and the use of Nigeria pidgin by male and female students has encourage wrong
use and expression of English language. It was recommended that Staff and students in tertiary
institution across the federation should engage the use of Standard English language in the
communication rather than use of Nigeria Pidgin. In addition, the use of Nigerian Pidgin by
students during official communication should be discouraged by implementing laws that can
combat wrong use of English Language in the school environment.

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CHAPTER ONE
1.0 INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background of the study

Attitudes towards language or language behavior implicate social meanings relative to social
norms in a given speech community. As demonstrated in the literature, language attitude study is not
only a way of understanding how language is used, for example, as a symbol of identity or in-group
membership, it also helps to illuminate the social importance of a given code or language (see
Adegbija, 1994; Ihemere 2006; Salami 1991). Attitudinal studies of language are also important to
linguistics because they could help to explain language maintenance and shift, which are apparently
influenced by whether the change or maintenance is favored or disfavored by members of the speech
community (Mann 1993; 1998).
In Nigeria, Nigerian Pidgin used to be seen generally as the code of the non-literate as well as
a bastardization of English and its use was, therefore, considered a mark of the level of one’s
proficiency in English. Akande (2008) has noted, the sociolinguistic reality in Nigeria today is such
that Nigerian Pidgin is spoken by university graduates, professors, lawyers and journalists. It has
also been demonstrated that Nigerian Pidgin is not used only in informal settings but also in offices
and other formal settings (Akande 2008). In other words, the claim that Nigerian Pidgin is the code
of the non-literate does not seem to have validity as there are a lot of educated speakers in Nigeria
who can use both Standard English and Nigerian Pidgin proficiently (Akande 2008).
It is quite interesting to note that what actually started as a contingency language between
the white merchants, who later turned colonial masters, and their black traders has now
become an elitist campus language-spoken among the teeming population of the Nigerian
students in higher institutions of learning. Thus, at common rooms, kiosks, gossip centres,
viewing centres, play grounds, rally grounds, relaxation joints, movie grounds and a host of other
meeting points where and when students are relieved of their academic routines, they are seen
interacting lively in Nigeria pidgin.
Nigeria as a multilingual nation is made up of different speech communities and diverse
ethnic groups. Past studies on linguistic situation in Nigeria have brought to the fore the
complexity of the native languages in the country. Bamgbose and Okike cited in Ndiemele (2)

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put the figures of Nigerian indigenous languages to three hundred and seventy-four (374) and
four hundred (400) languages respectively.
Adegbija claims that there are over five hundred (500) languages spoken in Nigeria
(75). The glaring fact, therefore, is that Nigeria is a community made up of different ‘tongues’, and
this, to a great extent, necessitated the adoption of the English language, a colonial legacy, as
both the official and second language of the country. Predominant among these languages are
Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa and Nigerian Pidgin/Creole. Apart from the first three major
languages, Pidgin/Creole is very popular in Nigeria. Ndimele estimates that Nigerian Pidgin
now serves as a native language to approximately three to five million people in Nigeria and
it is a second language (L2) for another 75 million people (4). Jowit confirms the popularity
of Nigerian Pidgin thus: “The situation today is that pidgin flourishes as a medium of inter-ethnic
communication, especially in the large cities with many non-indigenous residents (Bendel,
Benin, Port Harcourt e.tc) or throughout states with small many ethnic groups.
Nigeria as a multilingual nation is made up of different speech communities and diverse
ethnic groups. Past studies on linguistic situation in Nigeria have brought to the fore the
complexity of the native languages in the country. Bamgbose and Okike cited in Ndiemele (2)
put the figures of Nigerian indigenous languages to three hundred and seventy-four (374) and
four hundred (400) languages respectively. Adegbija claims that there are over five hundred
(500) languages spoken in Nigeria (75). The glaring fact, therefore, is that Nigeria is a community
made up of different ‘tongues’, and this, to a great extent, necessitated the adoption of the
English language, a colonial legacy, as both the official and second language of the country.
Predominant among these languages are Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa and Nigerian
Pidgin/Creole.
Furthermore, it could be argued that Nigerian Pidgin has enhanced the propagation of
national ideas, socio-cultural, linguistic and political developments as well as peace and unity in the
country since it is the only language that both the educated and the uneducated, irrespective of their
ethnic affinities, can identify with. The use of Nigerian Pidgin by Nigerians, however, has led to the
growing status of the code in the country. In other words, Nigerian Pidgin has remained one of the
languages with vitality in the society despite its unofficial recognition. Nonetheless, it has been
observed that a large number of people across various sectors of the society including particularly

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those parents who are highly placed government officials, teachers, students in the universities tend
to express disgust at its use by youths at home and school premises.

Pidgin is a contact language, and like all contact languages comes into being under
conditions of interaction among people of different linguistic backgrounds. Pidgins usually
evolve from the fusion of foreign languages and indigenous languages. Crystal explained
that most of the present day pidgins grew up along the trade routes of the world especially in those
parts where the British, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch built up their empires. At the
outset of pidgin, it has few words and few simple constructions. Interestingly, the syntax of
pidgin can be quite unlike the languages from which terms were borrowed and modified

The objective of the study is to find out the extent to which Nigerian Pidgin is used or spoken
among the students of National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) in Benin Study Centre.

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 NOUN students use Nigerian Pidgin English?


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

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1.4 Objectives of the Study
This work intends to examine how frequent NOUN students use Nigerian Pidgin and under
what circumstances do NOUN students frequently use Nigerian Pidgin. Also the study seeks to find
the extent Noun 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 NOUN
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 effective
educational system.

1.6 Scope and Limitations:


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

1.7 Definition of terms


Use: 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".

Student: 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 TWO

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2.0 LITERATURE REVIEW

In Nigeria, Nigerian Pidgin used to be seen generally as the code of the non-literate as well as
a bastardization of English and its use was, therefore, considered a mark of the level of one’s
proficiency in English. For instance, Agheyisi (2001) claims that the typical users of Nigerian Pidgin
are those that have little or no formal education. However, as Akande (2008:37) has noted, the
sociolinguistic reality in Nigeria today is such that NP is spoken by university graduates, professors,
lawyers and journalists. It has also been demonstrated that Nigerian Pidgin is not used only in
informal settings but also in offices and other formal settings (Akande 2008). In other words, the
claim that Nigerian Pidgin is the code of the non-literate does not seem to have validity as there are a
lot of educated speakers in Nigeria who can use both Standard English and Nigerian Pidgin
proficiently (Akande 2008).
In Nigeria today, the language policy on education prescribes a role for all Nigerian
languages. Languages of the immediate environment are prescribed as languages of instruction for
pre-primary and the first three of six years of primary education. English is to be a medium of
instruction from the fourth year of primary education onwards, and is to be taught as a subject from
primary four. At least one national language is recommended for learning as a subject at the
secondary education level while French was recently introduced into the policy as a second official
language and is expected to be learnt as a subject. In other words, the learner should be literate in a
minimum of three to four languages at the end of the senior secondary education. The policy
however, does not prescribe any language of instruction for mass literacy, adult, and non–formal
education. Most of the time, the language of instruction adopted is the language of the immediate
environment.

Generally, the origin of Nigeria Pidgin is traceable to poor use of a language either
by the speaker or receiver. In Nigeria, Pidgin emerged in the Niger Delta as a contact
language which served the need for communication and interaction (Ajibade et al, 2012). It
should be noted that Nigerian Pidgin varies from place to place and has several
peculiar varieties. Obiechina (1984) meticulously discussed the variants of the Nigerian Pidgin
by identifying five varieties namely: Bendel which includes: Abraka, Warri, Isoko, Sapele,
Agbor, Itsekiri, Effurun, Agbaraha-Oto, Urohobo and Ewu; Calabar which includes: Calabar, Cross
River, Akwa Ibom and the Kalabari regions; Lagos variant which includes: South West,

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Eastern Part and South-Central; Kano/Maiduguri variant which includes: North-East, North-
North, North-South and North-West; and Port Harcourt which includes: Port Harcourt and the
Regional Suburbs. It must be noted also that despite the need to gain mastery of the Standard
English, the Pidgin is fast evolving to the degree of being a national language. It serves as a
lingua franca in higher institutions and even to some extent, among graduates. In fact, the
Nigerian Pidgin started as a language of non-literates as Bamgbose, Banjo and Thomas (1995)
put it. In their further descriptions they stated that, “not everyone had access to school and
the process of acquiring English was decidedly longer and more tedious than that of ‘picking
up’ Pidgin. It [therefore] remains a hall mark of the Nigerian Pidgin that its speakers use it
with a lot of freedom and creativity.” Suffice it to say that the Nigerian Pidgin is identified as a
language in its own right, with all the characteristics and potentialities of a natural language( Elugbe,
B.O. and Omamor, A.P. ,1991).

2.1 An Overview of Nigerian Pidgin


Nigerian pidgin is a term used to denote an English-based pidgin; a marginal language used
among Nigerians to facilitate communication needs in certain interaction contexts. Like any other
pidgin language in other cultural climes where the language is not native to its users, Nigerian Pidgin
is contact language that emerged from the fusion of indigenous languages and foreign language
(English). Supporting this view, Elugbe and Omamor (1991), in their attempt to define pidgin, see it
as “some kind of a marginal language that arises to fulfill specific communication needs in well-
defined circumstances.” The above definition shows that pidgin is not an official language, but a
marginal language used for communication especially by people who do not speak each other’s
language. Writing further, Elugbe and Omamor, quoting Hall (1966), stated two conditions for a
language to be qualified as pidgin. In their submission, for a language to be pidgin, “Its grammatical
structure and its vocabulary must be sharply reduced; secondly, the resultant language must be native
to none of those who use it” (Elugbe and Omamor, 1991). In consonance with the above position,
Rickford (1998) said: “A pidgin usually combines elements of the native language of its users and is
typically simpler than those native languages in so far as it has fewer words, less morphology, and a
more restricted range of phonological and syntactic options”.
Rickford’s excerpt to some extent is contextually applicable to Nigerian Pidgin in the sense
that its phonological, morphological and grammatical structures are basically restricted compared to

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any other standard language. The sociolinguistic reality in Nigeria today reveals that Nigerian Pidgin
is not used only in informal settings, but also in other formal settings (Akande, 2008). There are
quite a number of negative perceptions of Nigerian Pidgin. Such perceptions have culminated in a
string of derogatory definition of Nigerian Pidgin as a mark of bastardization of English. Nigerian
Pidgin has come to be understood as: ‘adulterated language,’ ‘an inferior language,’ ‘substandard and
lesser language,’ ‘a deviated language form,’ ‘a marginal language,’ ‘a bad language,’ ‘a language
with no history and no native,’ among others. Also, it is seen as a language used by the uneducated
and above all, less important language. These derogatory qualifications probably inform the reason
why its use in the past it was limited to jokes, cartoons, and entertainment in general.

The origin of pidgin generally is not very clear; although a lot of scholarly speculations exist.
A source has it that ‘pidgin’ (especially in West Africa) arose from the contact between the Chinese
and the European traders and such was a mispronunciation of the word “business” by the Chinese
(Naro, 1973). Another account has it that it came from the Portuguese word ‘ocupaciao,’ which
means ‘occupation.’ Pidgin is also said to resemble or closely related to a Hebrew word 'pidjom'
which means ‘barter’ (Rickford, 1998). It is of particular interest to note that pidgin has to do with
trade or business, contact or migration between two hetero-cultural sets of people.
In the Nigerian context, colonization is a key historical factor responsible for the
emergence of Nigerian Pidgin. Nigerian Pidgin can be historically traced to the trade contact
between the British and local people in the seventeenth century. According to Illah (2001),
Nigerian Pidgin was developed from the negative attitude of the European colonial masters
who felt they could not allow their colonized people-Nigerians to speak the same
language with them. In other words, Nigerian pidgin was a product of the inferiority attitude the
colonizers had towards the colonized. Owing to the historical contact of Europeans and the
Africans, the language of the former became prominent among the latter, though the correct
usage of the English language of the colonizers by their colonized did not witness
complete success. The resultant effect of their attempt to catch up with the new and
prominent language gave rise to broken English.
This is the foundational developmental stage of Nigerian pidgin. But as a result of diachronic
development over the years, the features, lexico semantics and syntactic of Nigerian Pidgin
began to emanate and got documented. This stage marks the departing line of Nigerian
Pidgin from broken English (Faraclas, 1996). Elugbe and Omamor make distinction

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between Nigerian Pidgin and Broken English, and Special English or deliberately incorrect
English (Bamgbose, 1995; Igboanusi, 2001). Broken English, on the one hand, is the type spoken
as a result of inadequate mastering of standard English Language by non-native speakers of
the language. It is different from Nigerian Pidgin. Special English, on the other hand is the type that
is spoken with a deliberate attempt to manipulate the rules of English. It is used in most cases to
create humour. Such is associated with characters like Zebrudaya of the television Soap
Operas ‘Masquerade’. Elugbe and Omamor (1990) refers to this form as a ‘Pseudo Pidgin.’
However, Nigerian Pidgin was denied, disallowed and rejected by the Europeans as
official and proper English language, especially within the realms of education,
administration and politics. Illah therefore concluded that it was the inferiority presuppositions
of the Europeans towards their colonized that made them not to accept the colonized pidgin or
respect the colonized. Illah’s position can be substantiated with some relevant theories on the
origin of pidgin language. Baby talk theory, for instance, sees pidgin originating from a similar
effort, which a child has when s/he is trying to mastera language. It is claimed that in doing
this, the child will first master the content words as opposed to the functional words (Hall,
1966). Baby talk theory shows the attempt of Nigerians at speaking their superiors’ language,
which resulted in their getting the less superior form of the language. This theory may after
all not be a plausible explanation to account for the history/origin of Nigerian pidgin. For
one, the theory takes pidgin language to be an incorrect language subject to modification and
as an actual language-in-making process. However, contrary to this perception, the language as
experientially used by its adherents is neither meant to satisfy modification purposes nor re-
modification essences. But rather, it is an established language.
But a more fundamental factor in tracing the origin and necessity of Nigerian pidgin is the
linguistic ecology of Nigeria. Akande and Salami (2010) have underscored and documented
this. According to them, Nigeria is a highly multilingual and multi-ethnic setting with
ancestral language ranging between 400 and 500. Only three out of these languages are
recognized as major languages:Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba, while the rest are regarded as minor
languages (for example, Igede, Egun, Angas, Kamuku, etc.). The classification of Nigerian
languages into major and minor is based on factors including,politics, geographical spread and
numerical strength. On the basis of numerical strength and geographical spread, each of the major
languages is spoken by well over 18 million people in the country and is spoken in at least five

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states of the federation (Akande and Salami, 2010). But for the minor languages, none
has such numerical strength or has geographical spread in more than one or two states out of the
36 states making up the Nigerian state including Abuja, the capital.

2.2 The History of Nigeria Pidgin English


Nigerian 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". It is distinguished
from other creole languages since most speakers are not true native speakers although many children
learn it at an early age. It can be spoken as a pidgin, a creole, or a decreolised acrolect by different
speakers, who may switch between these forms depending on the social setting.
Variations of pidgin are also spoken across West Africa, in countries such as Sierra Leone,
Equatorial Guinea, Ghana and Cameroon. Despite the common use of Nigerian Pidgin throughout
the country, it has no official status. Nigerian Pidgin also varies from place to place. Dialects of
Nigerian Pidgin may include the Warri, Sapele, Benin, Port-Harcourt, Lagos especially in Ajegunle,
Onitsha varieties. Nigerian Pidgin is most widely spoken in the oil rich Niger Delta where most of its
population speak it as their first language. However, other people speak Pidgin in their own ways all
over Nigeria.
Nigerian Pidgin, along with the various pidgin and creole languages of West Africa share
similarities to the various English-based Creoles found in the Caribbean. Some of the returning
descendants of slaves taken to the New World of West African origin brought back many words and
phrases to West Africa from the Jamaican Creole (also known as Jamaican Patois or simply Patois)
and the other creole languages of the West Indies which are components of Nigerian Pidgin. The
pronunciation and accents often differ a great deal, mainly due to the extremely heterogeneous mix
of African languages present in the West Indies, but if written on paper or spoken slowly, the creole
languages of West Africa are for the most part mutually intelligible with the creole languages of the
Caribbean. The presence of repetitious phrases in Caribbean Creole such as "su-su" (gossip) and
"pyaa-pyaa" (sickly) mirror the presence of such phrases in West African languages such as "koro-
koro", meaning "clear vision", "yama-yama", meaning "disgusting", and "doti-doti", meaning
"garbage". Furthermore, the use of the words of West African origin in Jamaican Patois "Unu" and
Bajan dialect "wunna" - Jamaican Patois or "una" - West African Pidgin (meaning "you people", a
word that comes from the Igbo word "unu" or "wunna" also meaning "you people") display some of

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the interesting similarities between the English pidgins and creoles of West Africa and the English
pidgins and creoles of the West Indies, as does the presence of words and phrases that are identical in
the languages on both sides of the Atlantic, such as "Me a go tell dem" (I'm going to tell them) and
"make we" (let us). Use of the word "deh" or "dey" is found in both Caribbean Creole and Nigerian
Pidgin English, and is used in place of the English word "is" or "are". The phrase "We dey for
London" would be understood by both a speaker of Creole and a speaker of Nigerian Pidgin to mean
"We are in London" (although the Jamaican is more likely to say "Wi de a London"). Other
similarities, such as "pikin" (Nigerian Pidgin for "child") and "pikney" (used in islands like
St.Vincent, Antigua and St. Kitts, akin to the standard-English pejorative/epithet pickaninny) and
"chook" (Nigerian Pidgin for "poke" or "stab") which corresponds with the Jamaican Patois word
"juk", and also corresponds to "chook" used in other West Indian islands.
Being derived partly from the present day Edo/Delta area of Nigeria, there are still some
leftover words from the Portuguese and Spanish languages in Pidgin (Portuguese and Spanish trade
ships traded slaves from the Bight of Benin). For example, "you sabi do am?" means "do you know
how to do it?". "Sabi" means "to know" or "to know how to", just as "to know" is "saber" in
Portuguese and Spanish. Also, "pikin" or "pickaninny" comes from the Spanish and Portuguese
words "pequeño"/"pequeno" and "pequeñín"/"pequenino", which mean "small".

Similar to the Caribbean Creole situation, Nigerian Pidgin is mostly used in informal
conversations. However, Nigerian Pidgin has no status as an official language. Nigerian Standard
English is used in politics, the internet and some television programs. Nigerian Pidgin is a promoted
language as well because it reflects national identity in Nigeria through its use in the propagation of
national ideas, values, political and socio-economic development peace and unity. Because
virtually every class and creed identify with it Akande says Nigerian Pidgin is “a marker
of identity and solidarity. It is an inter-ethnic code available to Nigerians, who have no other
common language” (Akande, 2008).

Each of the 250 or more ethnic groups in Nigeria can communicate in this language,
though they usually have their own additional words. For example, the Igbos added the word,
"Nna" at the beginning of some sentences toadd effect to the meaning of their sentence. For
example, "that test was hard" becomes "Nna men, dat test hard no be small". This same additional
effect can be found among the Yorùbás, who normally added the words 'Şe' and 'Abi' to

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their own dialect of Nigerian Pidgin. Such native words are often used at the start or end of
an intonated sentence or question. For example, "You are coming, right?" becomes "Şe you
dey come?" or "You dey come abi?".

2.3 Attitudes to Nigeria Pidgin in Nigeria


Undergraduates of various higher institutions in Nigeria hold the healthiest attitude
towards Nigeria Pidgin. It is now fashionable for them to communicate with their peers in NP. They
equally use it in social network. This, of course, is mixed with special jargons which are
popular among the youths. Most of them speak Standard English in their formal academic pursuit.
An appreciable number of the students prefer Pidgin to English in informal discourse. They claim
that NP is easier to speak than English. They are not mindful of the grammaticality and
acceptability of their Pidgin utterances as they do in English. Omenazu’s findings reveal that
students accept and dvocate NP as the National language of Nigerian (32). Public/Civil
servants speak NP in informal settings. In such occasions, they usually code switch to
Standard English or their native languages. However, public/civil servants stick to Standard
English (SE) when they carry out official transactions. NP or native languages are occasionally
spoken when the persons they are discussing with neither understand nor speaks
English. Moreover, official records are strictly kept in Standard English, the official language of
Nigeria. This is in line with Nigerian Constitution which stipulates that the English language is the
official language of the country.
Attitudes are general and enduring positive or negative feelings about some object or
issue. Attitudes manifest in people’s behaviours and utterances. Apart from attitudes being negative
or positive, people could also develop indifferent, dismissive, lackadaisical or ambivalent attitudes
towards a phenomenon. Any of these attitudes could be adopted by a speech community towards
a language or languages spoken in their environment.
Lambert (2001) cited in Obiegbu (2) explains that the behaviourists and Mentalists approaches
are two popular approaches used by theorists in analyzing the concept, attitude. The Mentalists
view in one hand is the most represented one and has three components, the ‘cognitive’
(individual belief system, knowledge and perceptions) ‘affective’ (emotional reactions and
feelings) ‘conative’ (behavioural intentions and interest). This approach is covert in nature
and could not easily be noticed. The Behaviourists on the other hand, argue that attitudes are

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to be found simply in the responses people make to social situation which implies
overt behaviour. This kind of behaviour is much easier to observe and analyze. Both
Behaviourists and Mentalists approaches contribute to total formation of attitude towards
issues. It starts as a covert perception and later manifests itself overtly in an individual’s behaviour
or reaction. The formation of an attitude towards a language adopts the aforementioned approaches.
Generally speaking, language attitudes can be studied from two theoretical frameworks: the
behaviourist approach which focuses on the responses speakers of a language make about the social
functions of the language (Fasold 1984) and the mentalist approach which considers attitudes as
internal states that can be used to predict other behaviours (Ihemere 2006). In this study, we adopt
the mentalist approach as many scholars have done (Apel and Muysken 1987; Baker 1992; Ihemere
2006; Long 1999; Zhou 1999). As Ihemere (2006) and Fasold (1984) have noted, the mentalist
framework cannot account for how the mental states of users of a language can be studied directly
without having to make inferences from the behavior, however although theoretically speaking, no
language is linguistically minor or major, legitimate or bastard but a number people tend to perceive
Nigerian Pidgin as a corrupt, bastardised or lesser language (Igboanusi 2008; Mann 1996). As
pointed out by Elugbe and Omamor (1991:146) attitudes to Nigerian Pidgin is not determined by any
objective criteria. In spite of the fact that Nigerian Pidgin is used by more than two-thirds of the total
population of Nigeria today (Faraclas 2004; Igboanusi 2008) and despite its use by people from
different walks of life including graduates and professionals (Akande 2008), the general attitudes of
the majority of Nigerians toward Nigeria Pidgin are still not encouraging. Concerning this, Deuber
(2005:183) says: “although a major lingua franca, it has no official recognition; even without any
policy statements, it performs a growing range of functions, including, for example, that of a
medium of public broadcasting, but no efforts have been made to develop it in order for it to be able
to cope with these functions, as has been done for the major and to some extent also for minor
indigenous languages”
Deuber (2005:183) also notes that Nigeria Pidgin is the most neglected language in Nigeria
since no major roles are assigned to it. Elugbe and Omamor (1991) and Egbokhare (2003) suggest
that Nigeria Pidgin be given the status of an official or national language while Igboanusi (2008)
calls for its use as a medium of instruction in the early stage of primary school education especially
for Nigeria Pidgin speaking children. One major argument in support of the adoption of Nigerian
Pidgin as a national language is that it is a neutral code as it has no ethnic base. Igboanusi (2008)

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examines how Nigeria Pidgin could be empowered in Nigeria and remarks that education is ‘the
most important institution through which to raise the value of Nigeria Pidgin’. However, Igboanusi’s
(2008) study shows that there is no consensus among his subjects as to whether Nigeria Pidgin
should be given any official or national status as some of them believe, among other things, that
Nigeria Pidgin has no economic value.

2.4 Nigerian Pidgin as a Marginal Variety


Out of many common manifestations of language marginalization, only one has been
extensively researched in Nigeria: the non-recognition of minority languages at the local, state or
national level (Oyelaran 1990). However, marginalization can also come in the form of limited space
or attention given to a particular language in printed or electronic forms. A language is considered
marginal only when there are other languages to which we can compare it within the same speech
community. There is a sense in which Nigerian Pidgin can be regarded as a marginal language when
we consider the fact that its written form, compared to the written forms of languages like English,
Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo, is on the margin. Not many literary works have been produced in Nigerian
Pidgin in Nigeria. When we compare the literary works written in any of the four languages
mentioned above (i.e., English, Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo) in Nigeria with the few ones written in
Nigerian Pidgin, it would be apparent that NP has been marginal in the print medium. Apart from the
fact that only a few novels or drama texts exist in Nigerian Pidgin, most Nigerians do not often read
or pay any serious academic attention to works written in Nigerian Pidgin. This is borne-out of the
attitudes that they have to the language. More importantly, while English and the other three national
languages are codified, Nigerian Pidgin is not.
Politically, Nigeria Pidgin is marginalized. While English and other major languages are
recognized in our constitution, Nigeria Pidgin is not at all. First is the fact that most Nigerians,
including the elites, see Nigerian Pidgin as a mere contact language which cannot be said to belong
to any particular region unlike the three major languages which are regionally or ethnically based. As
such, Nigerian Pidgin is not the language of any ethnic group. We can more or less see it, therefore,
as being ethnically marginalized. Secondly, while each of Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo and English is studied
as a discipline in Nigeria’s secondary schools and higher institutions, as far as we know, there is no
secondary school where Nigerian Pidgin is taught as a subject. Similarly, there is no department of
Nigerian Pidgin in any higher institution in Nigeria although there are some dissertations which have

15
examined one aspect or the other of Nigerian Pidgin. This also implies that Nigerian Pidgin is
marginalized in Nigeria’s curriculum. The non-introduction of Nigerian Pidgin into the curriculum is
political. The existence of such a department where Nigerian Pidgin stands out as a discipline would
mean that the government as well as universities in Nigeria will have to fund it. Ours is a country
where the existing programmes in the nation’s citadels of learning and the entire university system
are not properly funded by the government not to talk about introducing another one. So, the
continuous marginalization of Nigerian Pidgin is indirectly linked to the lack of interest on the part
of the government.

Pidgin is a contact language, and like all contact languages comes into being under
conditions of interaction among people of different linguistic backgrounds. Pidgins usually
evolve from the fusion of foreign languages and indigenous languages. Crystal explained
that most of the present day pidgins grew up along the trade routes of the world especially in those
parts where the British, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch built up their empires (13).
Consequently, we talk of Pidgin English, Pidgin French and so on, depending on which language
the Pidgin is derived from. He stated that about sixty million people speak or understand
Pidgin worldwide. Akmajian and others add that a Pidgin typically arises in colonial
situations though it primarily starts as a trade language.

Politically, Nigeria Pidgin is marginalized. While English and other major languages are
recognized in our constitution, Nigeria Pidgin is not at all. Two major reasons can be hypothesized
for this. First is the fact that most Nigerians, including the elites, see Nigeria Pidgin as a
mere contact language which cannot be said to belong to any particular region unlike the
three major languages which are regionally or ethnically based. As such, it (NP) is not the
language of any ethnic group. We can more or less see it, therefore as being ethnically marginalized.
Secondly, while each of Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo and English is studied as a discipline in Nigeria’s
secondary schools and higher institutions, as far as we know, there is no secondary school
where Nigeria Pidgin is taught as a subject. Similarly, there is no department of Nigerian
Pidgin in any higher institution in Nigeria although there are some dissertations which have
examined one aspect or the other of Nigeria Pidgin . This also implies that Nigeria Pidgin is
marginalized in Nigeria’s curriculum. The non-introduction of Nigeria Pidgin into the curriculum

16
is political. The existence of such a department where Nigeria Pidgin stands out as a discipline
would mean that the government as well as universities in Nigeria will have to fund it.

2.5 The Linguistic Ecology of Nigeria


Nigeria is the largest country in West Africa, with a population of over 138million (Central
Intelligence Agency, 2008).The country consists of 36 states plus Abuja, which is the Federal Capital
Territory. Although no one can be precisely sure of the number of ancestral languages in Nigeria, the
estimate has always ranged between 400 and 500 languages (Bamgbose 1971) with the number of
ethnic groups ranging from 250 to 300. To further complicate this sharply multilingual setting, most
of the languages have different identifiable dialects. Nigeria is a highly multilingual and multi-ethnic
setting with diverse cultures. Of all these ancestral languages, only three are recognised as
indigenous national or major languages: Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba (Constitution of the Federal
Republic of Nigeria). While the three indigenous languages are considered as major languages, other
indigenous languages are regarded as minor languages and have little or no recognition in the
country. Examples of minor languages in Nigeria are Batta, Annang, Igede, Kamuku, Angas and
Egun spoken in Adamawa, Akwa-Ibom, Benue, Niger, Plateau and Lagos respectively (Emenanjo
1995).
The major and minor languages in Nigeria are officially distinguished based on factors
including politics, geographical spread and numerical strength. Of these factors, the political
struggles and successes of some eminent figures in the country seem to have contributed to making
their languages ‘major’ ones. Many of the political heroes in Nigeria belonged to one of the three
major regions. As an illustration, Tafawa Balewa, Nnamdi Azikwe and Chief Obafemi Awolowo
were the three heroes of the Nigerian independence movement from Hausaland, Igboland and
Yorubaland respectively. As for numerical strength and geographical spread, each of Hausa, Igbo and
Yoruba (i.e. the major languages) is spoken by well over 18 million people in the country and is
spoken in at least five states of the federation. None of the so-called minor languages enjoys this
kind of numerical strength and each of them is spoken only within a state or two.
Given the linguistic diversity in Nigeria, most people grow up speaking more than one
indigenous language. The linguistic reality in Nigeria is such that the majority of speakers of minor
languages tend to learn one of the major languages (sometimes in addition to English), especially the
one that is dominant where they reside. And many of those who have one of the three major
languages as their native language also acquire English, NP or another language of the country. The

17
vast majority of Nigerians are bilingual (Akindele and Adegbite 1999), and for many of these
bilinguals, NP is one of the languages known. NP serves as a lingua franca across ethnic and regional
boundaries and when people of different ethnic groups who cannot or do not want to use English
meet, they can use Nigerian Pidgin.
Nigeria Pidgin language could thrive or go into extinction depending on the suitability
of the environment it finds itself. Since it is a contact language built specifically for trading,
it could go into extinction if the users do not continue with the trade. On the other hand, if
Pidgin finds a favourable environment such as a multi-lingual community, its linguistic features
expand in order to satisfy the communicative needs of different ethnic groups who find it
difficult to relate with their neighbor who neither speak nor understand each other’s language.
Linguists like Akmajian and others (299), Elugbe and Omamor (61) observe that pidgin usually
thrive in multi-lingual parts of the world. Such communities are made up of different ethnic
groups with different language that are not understood by other groups. The heterogeneous nature of
the communities becomes a fertile ground for Pidgin to evolve and expand. Here Pidgin is found to
be so useful that the peoples in contact find they cannot do without it. The Pidgin becomes a
common language or lingua Franca. Cross linguistic interference is a bilingual syndrome which
states that the structure and vocabulary of a language that has been previously acquired by a
language learner do interfere with the efforts of the learner to learn a target language. According to
Berthold (1997:1) it is one language influencing the other at the level of word order, use of
pronouns, determinants, tense and mood. Furthermore, Skiba (1997: 1) states that cross
linguistic interference may be viewed as the transference of the element of one language
to another at various levels including phonological, grammatical, lexical and orthographical.
When two separate languages come in contact in an individual, there will be observable transfer
of the linguistic feature of one of the languages to the production of the other. There are negative
transfer and positive transfer. Negative transfer occurs when a learner makes a distinct linguistic
feature of one language to function in another different language.

2.6 The Influence of Pidgin on the Teaching and Learning of Standard English

18
The Nigerian Pidgin has no doubt influenced the teaching and learning of the Standard
English negatively. It makes it quite impossible for teachers, students and even graduates to speak
the Standard English correctly. Living in a world that can best be described as global village, this act
would impede effective communication. The use of the Nigerian Pidgin to a large extent tends to
diminish peoples’ effort at mastering the Standard English. (Obiechna, 1984; Akinnaso, N.F. 1989).
Because Nigeria is a part of the global community, she cannot do without the use of the Standard
English because it dominates both national and international affairs. However, what is observed is
that the understanding of the Standard English is faulty because of the influence of the Pidgin, this
creates dissonance, especially in the face of so many Englishes – American, British, Nigerian, etc.
Consequently, the morphological and syntactic features of the Pidgin variety will hinder mutual
intelligibility which may likely affect negatively the spoken and written forms of the Standard
English. The English language is one of the requirements for gaining admission into various levels
of the educational system. As it stands, many new intakes at the various levels of the educational
system fall short of the required standard to be able to engage in meaningful academic work. Nigeria
is experiencing a high level of confusion in the adoption of an appropriate language policy. For
instance, it is contained in the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria enacted law that
the business of the National Assembly shall be conducted in English, Hausa and Yoruba...; giving
rise to the acronym WAZOBIA. The crux of the matter is how many Nigerians speak the English
language fluently? What percentage speaks Hausa, Igbo, or Yoruba? The policy appears to be
confusing and posting a serious setback in terms of achieving the proficiency in the English
language by Nigerians.

Nigeria is a multi lingua franca country. According to Ayo and Bamghose (1970) “the
number of language by various ethnic is not certain. They, however, rather than leaving their leaders
in the vacuum. They put it at over 400”. Premised on the above, therefore, we have been placed in
the midst of the multiplicity of languages in this great but vast country. It becomes a little bit hard to
determine which of the languages is to be recommended as lingua franca to be used centrally for
easy communication. Ijiga (1989) asked in one of his commentaries about chosen language for
national use, “if others will not be affected in terms of rejection where only one is taken”. He
concluded by saying, “that due to high level of multiplicity of language or dialects, English (pidgin)
the most acceptable and spoken should be used nationally”. Language composition as its choice for
official language has to do with decisions relating to such things as its acceptance, easy way of living
19
among others. So uncertain is the issue of using one Nigerian language or a combination of several
others that a number of researchers came or still continue to come up with conflicting figures or
statistics. For instance, Adegbiji (1994) stated that, “infact, Nigeria alone has between 459 – 500
languages”. By this assertion, Nigeria can be said to be multilingual and heterogeneous in nature.

Apart from the 450 – 500 languages and different central background existing already, there
exists English language. The official language for transaction in Nigeria is English language, also
used for correspondents, education and language of the elites. According to section 55 of the 1999
constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which relates to official language of communication,
it stated that: the business of the National Assembly shall be conducted in English, Hausa, Igbo and
Yoruba when adequate arrangements have been made from there (Constitution 99).

A lingua franca or national language is a language described by linguists as that used by all
the people in a country and which serves as symbol by national awareness. English is therefore
misconstrued in this respect that it is taught all over Nigeria and also has every part of the country as
its constituency geographically. One basic fact is that its area of coverage or ethnic constituency still
remains small. However, the Nigerian Pidgin as a language is no doubt widely spoken, understood
by the people and accepted for effective 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.

Pidgin could affect the communicative ability of Nigerians in effective communication.


Nigerians could be easily excluded from international business and transactions. There is,
therefore, the need for educational planners and administrators who conceive, formulate and
implement educational policies to ensure that Pidgin do not impinge on the ability of the Nigerian
nation to engage in global communications

2.7 The Place of Pidgin in Contemporary Nigerian Society

20
It is important to acknowledge the fact that Holm does not stand alone in the initial crusade
for (the recognition of) pidgin languages alongside other major types of languages, and specifically
as encountered in Nigeria, i.e. Nigerian Pidgin. A good deal of linguists and research works fall
within this trend-setting category, in the Nigerian context; and, as the 21st century unfolds, the
second part of its opening decade has witnessed an even larger influx of research on the subject-
matter, including works such as Ihemere (2006) A Basic Description and Analytic Treatment of
Noun Clauses in Nigerian Pidgin; Abdullahi-Idiagbon (2010) The Sociolinguistics of Nigerian
Pidgin English in Selected University Campuses in Nigeria; Iwuchukwu & Okafor (2011) Nigerian
Pidgin in the 21st Century: Any Hope of Surviving the Opposition from English, Nigerian
Languages and Foreign Languages?; Ativie (2012) Cultural Influences as Inputs of Development of
Nigeria Pidgin; Mazzoli (2012)The Emergence of “Na‟ as a Copula in Nigerian Pidgin; and so on.
A closer look at the existing literature on Nigerian Pidgin as highlighted above would
however reveal two major pre-occupational trends (among the different scholars): the first is the
effort to emphasize or articulate the importance of pidgin (concurrent with which is the advocacy for
its upgrading as recognized lingua franca among Nigeria‟s multiplex ethnicities; and the second is
the daring attempt to regularize its form and structure by subjecting it to rigorous linguistic analysis.
To illustrate the first research trend above, Abdullahi-Idiagbon (2010) investigated “varieties of
Nigerian Pidgin with special focus on the variety being used on the Nigerian university campuses”.
He expressed the view that “over the years, Nigerian Pidgin has expanded, stabilized and probably
creolized”. In his reasoned opinion, this is probably due to the fact that, at times, “linguistic
resources like borrowing and coinage are resorted to in-order to cope with day-to-day emerging
functions and concepts”. For example, the word solo (a coinage used to mean „calm down‟) was
cited to illustrate that such words (and there are many similar others) “are introduced by Nigerian
youths on campuses as well as by hoodlums in the society to swell-up the lexical register of pidgin
typologies”. Abdullahi-Idiagbon (Ibid) therefore highlights the common functions of Pidgin
expressions to include the following, that it is used:
(i) To herald musical concert of interest within or outside campuses,
(ii) To womanize or talk about ladies or ladies discussing their male friends,
(iii) To express basic domestic needs like eating and clothing, and (iv) for
interpersonal/private discussion.

21
Furthermore, Ajibade, Awopetu & Adeyemi (2012) examine Nigerian youth’s perception in
relation to Nigerian Pidgin. The major question they sought to answer was: what do Nigerian youths
think or make of Pidgin as a linguistic choice available to them in their everyday language-based
interrelationship. “To accomplish this”, in their own words, “the study investigated the influence of
tribe, institution, age, location, sex and social status on the youths‟ perceptions of pidgin ... as a
unifying /factor, and its consideration as a recognized official language in the Nigerian language
policy”.
As rightly pointed out, the English language occupies a unique position in Nigeria‟s
educational sector. English remains the language of education, mass media, business and
communication. In fact, a credit in English remains a prerequisite for securing admission into
Nigerian universities. Again, it remains the only language of instruction in all university courses
except when teaching other languages. Therefore, proficiency in English is a yardstick for measuring
people‟s educational attainment. In Nigerian universities, English is offered as a general studies‟
course aimed at helping students attain a reasonable degree of competence in the language.
Surprisingly, there have been arguments as to whether undergraduates could attain a native-like
competence in English in the Nigerian context in view of socio-cultural constraints. According to
Ayodabo and Acheoah (2013), Nigerians who learn English in ESL contexts cannot achieve the level
of competence which the English exhibit at the phonological level due to socio-cultural and
environmental constraints. However, it is advised that students of tertiary institutions should strive to
achieve communicative competence in English. In fact, the General Studies Unit of Nigerian
universities has been helping Nigerian undergraduates to have an appreciable competence in English.
But, it is disheartening that students‟ poor attitude towards use of English (GS 101 & 102) and even
to other GS courses has been a major setback.
in the past two decades, Elugbe and Omamor critically examined the roles played by
Nigerian Pidgin. They examined the attitudes of laymen, educated Nigerians, Government
and linguists towards the language. They argued that in spite of the fact that NP was confronted
with a lot of challenges such as Nigerian Government inability to recognize and give it its
proper place as a language of wider communication; the dismissive or spiteful attitude of some
educate members of Nigerian society towards the NP; low status accorded to the language as the
language of the illiterate member of the society; its non-recognition in the education and
political life of the country; its undeveloped syntax and orthography; its rejection as an

22
aftermath of colonization, there is still a strong hope that the language will survive, grow and
gain its proper place in the scheme of things in the country. Hence, they make the following
prophetic assertion.
...despite the enormous challenges faced by Pidgin, its viability as a means of
communication is underniable. Besides, NP is neutral and so evokes no tribal sentiment; it is
also spreading and expanding. We believe that it will, by its sheer presence, demand and force
recognition from all (150).
So, how far has the above dream been realized in our present-day Nigeria? What
attitude do the various sectors of Nigerians have about NP? We will delve into these by examining
the attitudes of the following sectors of the society: Educated Nigerians which comprise
students of higher institutions, Public/Civil Servants, Lay People (market people, commercial
drivers and motorcyclists, artisans etc) the Media, Literary Artists, Musicians, Government
Education Policy Makers and Religious Institutions. The importance of Nigerian Pidgin as
a contact language cannot be over emphasized. It should therefore be allowed to thrive and
given free hand to operate without any prejudice or sentiment attached to it or to the people who
find it suitable to use in order to satisfy their varying communication needs. Language planners in
Nigeria should work towards improving the status of pidgin by borrowing from the
experience of Papua New Guinea and Tanzania where Pidgin has become the official
language used in parliament (Tok, 2012). Even in Cameroon, pidgin language is very popular,
though it is not an official language.
By implication, if Nigerian pidgin could be allowed to improve upon its present status of
Promoted Language (PL) and Tolerance Language (TL), with the passage of time, it is a
reasonable possibility that it could assume the status of Sole Official (SO) language. Of
course, critics may view this position we are envisaging as utopian. But cognizance needs to
be taken of the fact that language itself is dynamic, and susceptible to evaluation,
regulation, alteration and improvement.

23
Table 1: Superstrate and Substrate influences on NP

Lexical source NP Lexical Item NP Meaning


English pálè pal/friend
veks vex
maintain be calm
obstacle meat
remote control witchcraft

Portuguese palava problem/trouble


pikin child
dash gift
sabi know
brusai flirt

French Bókû Plenty


kámkpé fine/durable
pantalun bogus pair of trousers
rundevu reckless spending
Nigerian English go slow hold up
machine motorcycle/new car
watchnight night watch man
houseboy male-servant
upstair storey building
Igbo Ókóró an Igbo man
ínyángá show off
ògógóró locally brewed gin
ogbánjé reincarnated birth

Table 2: Reduplication in Nigerian Pidgin


Nigerian Pidgin Reduplication English base
small small gently
wélu wélu very well
kúlú kúlú calmly
sharp sharp very fast
kwík kwík urgently
mágo mágo deceitful
wúrú wúrú unfaithful/deceitful
jágá jágá confusable

2.8 The Language Composition of Nigeria Pidgin English


Nigeria is a multilingual country. According to Ayo and Bamghose (1970) “the number of
language by various ethnic is not certain. They, however, rather than leaving their leaders in the

24
vacuum. They put it at over 400”. Premised on the above, therefore, we have been placed in the
midst of the multiplicity of languages in this great but vast country. It becomes a little bit hard to
determine which of the languages is to be recommended as lingua franca to be used centrally for
easy communication. Ijiga (1989) asked in one of his commentaries about chosen language for
national use, “if others will not be affected in terms of rejection where only one is taken”. He
concluded by saying, “that due to high level of multiplicity of language or dialects, English (Pidgin)
the most acceptable and spoken should be used nationally”.
Language composition as its choice for official language has to do with decisions relating to
such things as its acceptance, easy way of living among others. So uncertain is the issue of using one
Nigerian language or a combination of several others that a number of researchers came or still
continue to come up with conflicting figures or statistics. For instance, Adegbiji (1994) stated that,
“in fact, Nigeria alone has between 459 – 500 languages”. By this assertion, Nigeria can be said to
be multilingual and heterogeneous in nature.
Apart from the 450 – 500 languages and different central background existing already, there
exists English language. The official language for transaction in Nigeria is English, also used for
correspondents, education and language of the elites. According to section 55 of the 1999
constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which relates to official language of communication,
it stated that: the business of the National Assembly shall be conducted in English, Hausa, Igbo and
Yoruba when adequate arrangements have been made from there (Constitution 99). For now,
however, apart from English which has been in use before and after independence, no one language
has been accepted as a national language among Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo, even though the trio
known as ‘WAZOBIA’ have long been groomed for that but yet to materialize.
There is no doubting the fact that English, the colonial language left by the British, is still
playing the role. Adegbija however disagreed a bit here as in his words: English language is not
playing the role effectively due to its colonial origins and too, it is spoken by minority elite group
whose percentage is less than 40 (62). A lingua-franca or national language is a language described
by linguists as that used by all the people in a country and which serves as symbol by national
awareness. English is therefore misconstrued in this respect that it is taught all over Nigeria and also
has every part of the country as its constituency geographically. One basic fact is that its area of
coverage or ethnic constituency still remains small. However, the Nigerian Pidgin as a language is
no doubt widely spoken, understood by the people and accepted for effective communication by all

25
classes, illiterate and literate, all over Nigeria. By this, one cannot but agree that Nigerian Pidgin has
an advantage over any other language to be officially adopted as a lingua franca for Nigeria and
Nigerians.

Oyelaran (1990) (as cited in Akande,2008:74)is of the view that, out of many
common manifestations of language marginalization, only one has been extensively researched
in Nigeria: the non-recognition of minority languages at the local, state or national level.
However, marginalization can also come in the form of limited space or attention given to a
particular language in printed or electronic forms. A language is considered marginal only
when there are other languagesto which we can compare it within the same speech
community. There is a sense in which NP can be regarded as a marginal language when we
consider the fact that its written form, compared to the written forms of languages like English,
Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo, is on the margin. Not many literary works have been produced in NP
in Nigeria. When we compare the literary works written in any of the four languages mentioned
above (i.e., English, Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo) in Nigeria with the few ones written in NP, it
would be apparent that NP has been marginalized in the print medium. Apart from the fact that
only a few novels or drama texts exist in NP, most Nigerians do not often read or pay any
serious academic attention to works written in NP. This is born out of the attitudes that they have to
the language. More importantly, while English and the other three national languages are
codified, NP is not. (Akande 2008).

An investigation into the use of Pidgin English in Nigeria is necessary in order to


understand the social structures of the society and the language behaviour itself. Writing on NP,
Jowitt (1991) also remarked that recently the pidgin has attained the feat of dignity not only among
the illiterates but also the literate members of the society. He instantiated the use of pidgin
signals proximity and informality and states that it is good for cracking jokes.

CHAPTER THREE
3.0 METHODOLOGY

26
This chapter presents the method and procedures used in carrying out the study. It is
primarily aim is to investigate the effect of Nigerian Pidgin English on the academic performance of
university students in National Open University of Nigeria, Benin Study Centre. This chapter
consist of headings which include research design, population of the study, sample and sampling
techniques, instruments, reliability of instrument, method of data collected and method of data
analysis.

3.1 Research Design


This study is a descriptive research. It is designed to survey the effect of Nigerian Pidgin
English among National Open University of Nigeria students in Benin Study Centre. Ihemere (2006)
refers to descriptive research as the best method which includes the use of questionnaire or
interviews in the collection of data. The research used questionnaires to obtain information needed
for this study. To identify the strength of the responses to various questions, percentage would be
calculated and all the data obtained would be analyzed.

3.2 Population of the study


The population of the study is made up of all the students in Faculty of Education in the
National Open University of Nigeria, Benin Study Centre which were used for the investigation. The
populations used in the study are one hundred and twenty-five in number. The population for the
study is randomly selected from National Open University of Nigeria, Benin Study Centre.

3.3 Sample and sampling technique


The population sample comprise of one hundred and twenty-five students and staff alike.
Simple random sampling technique was used to select respondents for the study.

3.4 Instrument for data collection


The major research to be adopted in this study will be survey based on the research questions
drawn by the researcher. In the process of data collection, the researcher will use structured
questions in form of a questionnaire whereby respondent will tick on the available options that will
be provided. The questionnaire contain two sections; section A and B. Section A of the instrument is
all about bio-data of each of the respondents and Section B consist of fourteen (14) items which
students intend to answer. The questionnaires will be designed in such a way that items of

27
information required from respondent will be minimal to enable the respondents to promptly fill and
return them.

3.5 Validity of the instrument


The questionnaire for this study was developed by the researcher. The instrument faces
content validation by the supervisor and other researcher. After undergoing series of correction by
the supervisor by adding relevant information to the questionnaire, it was perfectly good to be
administered on the respondents in order to obtain standard information for the study.

3.6 Reliability of instrument


According to Galadima (2009), the reliability of any test is said to be concerned with the
consistency of the measurement”. The instrument adopted for this research was found reliable as it
was cross checked by an expert and confirmed to be worthy enough to seek for information.

3.7 Method of data collection


The instrument used in the study was the questionnaire. It was personally administered by the
researcher to the respondents selected from the study. The administration of the questionnaire took
three weeks. At the end of each visitation, the researcher collected the answered questionnaire and
analyzed and interpreted the data collected.

3.8 Method of data analysis


The method to be adopted in this research is based on statistical table by distributing the
respondent according to their answers from the surveyed for the purpose of data analysis. Simple
statistical tools will be used in most cases, frequency in tabular form and percentage would be used.
This is necessary because the data obtained are qualitative and fixed.

CHAPTER FOUR
4.0 DATA PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS

28
This chapter deals with the analysis of the data collected. The statistical technique employed
for this study is the frequency count and simple percentage.

Table 1: “Respondents Demographic Variables”


VARIABLE NO. OF RESPONDENTS PERCENTAGE (%)
SEX MALE 53 42.4

FEMALE 72 57.6

TOTAL 125 100.0

LEVEL 100 32 25.6

200 15 12.0

300 19 15.2

400 59 100.0

TOTAL 125 100.0

AGE 19-24 60 48.0


GROUP
25-30 27 21.6
31-35 38 30.4
TOTAL 125 100.0

The presentation data in table 1 revealed the respondents sampled. it showed that a total of
one hundred and twenty-five (125) respondents were sampled. Amongst the sampled population, 53
of them representing 42.2% were male while 72 of them representing 57.6% were female. On
academic level, 25.6% are 100L, 12.0% are 200L, 15.2% are 300L while 47.2% are 400L. Also on
age group, 48.0% are 19-24years, 21.6% are 25-30years, and 30.4% are 31-35years of Age group.

Research question 1: How frequently do NOUN students use Nigerian Pidgin English?

29
Table 2:”frequent use of Nigeria pidgin by NOUN students”
S|N STATEMENT Agree % Disagree % Unde- %
cided
1. Students frequently use pidgin 89 71.2 27 21.6 9 7.2
in their daily communication
within the school premises.
2. The use of Nigeria pidgin 76 60.8 39 31.2 10 8.0
English by students has become
a major communication setback
3. Most Noun student’s spoken 63 50.4 34 27.2 28 22.4
language is mostly pidgin,
which has affected them
academically.
4. Lack of effective usage of 58 46.4 48 38.4 19 15.2
English language has prompt
student to use pidgin in their
communication.

The data in table 2 reflected on frequent use of Nigeria pidgin by NOUN students. 71.2% of
the respondents agreed that students frequently use Pidgin in their daily communication within the
school premises, 21.6% of the respondents disagreed that students does not frequently use pidgin in
their daily communication within the school premises while 7.2% of the respondents were undecided
to the statement posed to them.
60.8% of the respondents agreed that the use of Nigeria pidgin by students has become a
major communication setback, 31.2% of the respondents disagreed that the use of Nigeria pidgin by
students has not become a major communication setback while 8.0% of the respondents are un-
decisive. 50.4% of the respondents that most Noun student’s spoken language is mostly pidgin,
which has affected them academically, 27.2% of the respondents disagreed that most Noun student’s
spoken language is mostly pidgin, which has not affected them academically while 22.4% of the
respondents are un-decisive to the statement.
Also from the respondents 46.4% of the respondents agreed that lack of effective usage of
English has prompted students to use Pidgin in their communication, 38.4% of the respondents

30
disagreed that Lack of effective usage of English language does not prompt student to use Pidgin in
their communication while 15.2% of the respondents are un-decisive to the statement.

Research Question 2: Under what circumstances do NOUN students frequently use Nigerian
Pidgin?

Table 3:”Circumstance that make students frequently use Nigeria pidgin English”
S|N STATEMENT Agree % Disagree % Unde- %
cided
1. The often use of pidgin by 63 50.4 34 27.2 28 22.4
NOUN students has reduce
their confidence in expression
in English language
2. Shortage of English words in 74 59.2 39 31.2 12 9.6
expressing themselves cause
students to frequently use
Nigeria pidgin in their
communication
3. Environmental factor is one 45 36 60 48 20 16
of the reason students
frequently use pidgin in their
day to day activities.

From the statistical table above reflect on the circumstance that make students frequently use
Nigeria pidgin. 50.4% of the respondents agreed that the often use of pidgin by NOUN students has
reduce their confidence in expression in English language, 27.2% of the respondents disagreed that
the often use of pidgin by NOUN students does not reduce their confidence in expression in English
language while 22.4% of the respondents are un-decisive to the statement. 59.2% of the respondents
agreed that shortage of English words in expressing themselves cause students to frequently use
Nigeria pidgin in their communication, 31.2% of the respondents disagreed that shortage of English
words in expressing themselves does not cause students to frequently use Nigeria pidgin in their
communication while 9.6% of the respondents are un-decisive to the statement pose to them.

31
Research Question 3: To what extent do NOUN students use Nigerian Pidgin English in
communicating with staff and students of NOUN?

Table 4:”The Extent NOUN staff and students use Nigeria pidgin ”
S|N STATEMENT Agree % Disagree % Unde- %
cided
1. The extent students use Nigeria 60 48 45 36 15 12
pidgin English has maximally
increase with negative performance
in their studies
2. Pidgin communicating between 72 57.6 34 27.2 16 12.8
staffs and students are always
hinder proper usage of English
language
3. The use of Nigeria pidgin English 95 76 25 20 5 4
among staffs and student has
drastically slow good
communication skills
From the statistical data above reflected that the extent NOUN staff and students use Nigeria
pidgin. 48% of the respondents agreed that the extent students use Nigeria pidgin has maximally
increase with negative performance in their studies, 36% of the respondents disagreed that students
use Nigeria pidgin has not maximally increase with negative performance in their studies while 12%
of the respondents are un-decisive to the statement pose to them.

Among the respondents 57.6% agreed that Pidgin communication between staff and students
are always hinder proper usage of English language, 27.2% of the respondents disagreed that Pidgin
communicating between staffs and students are not always hinder proper usage of English language
while 12.8% of the respondents are un-decisive to the statement pose to them. 76% of the
respondents agreed that the use of Nigeria pidgin among staffs and student has drastically slow good
communication skills, 20% of the respondents disagreed that the use of Nigeria pidgin among staffs
and student does not drastically slow good communication skills while 4% of the respondents were
undecided to the statement posed to them.

32
Research Question 4: Is there a gender difference in the use Nigerian Pidgin among NOUN
students?

Table 4:”gender difference in the use of Nigeria pidgin English among students”

S|N STATEMENT Agree % Disagree % Unde- %


cided
1. There is no gender difference 34 27.2 78 62.4 13 10.4
in the use of Nigeria pidgin
2. Male students frequently use 86 68.8 31 24.8 8 6.4
pidgin in their communication
in and outside school
environment
3. The use of Nigeria pidgin by 94 75.2 25 20 6 4.8
both gender is cause by failure
to express oneself in good
English language
4. The use of Nigeria pidgin by 60 48 45 36 15 12
male and female students has
encourage wrong use and
expression of English
language

From the statistical data reflected gender difference in the use of Nigerian Pidgin among
students. 27.2% of the respondents agreed that there is no gender difference in the use of Nigerian
Pidgin, 62.4% of the respondents disagreed that there is gender difference in the use of Nigerian
Pidgin while 10.4% of the respondents are un-decisive to the statement pose to them. 68.8% of the
respondents agreed that male students frequently use pidgin in their communication in and outside
school environment, 24.8% of the respondents disagreed that male students frequently does not use
pidgin in their communication in and outside school environment while 6.4% of the respondents are
un-decisive to the statement pose to them.

Among the respondents 75.2% agreed that the use of Nigerian Pidgin by both gender is
because by failure to express oneself in good English language, 20% of the respondents disagreed

33
that the use of Nigeria pidgin by both gender is not due to failure to express oneself in good English
language while 4.8% of the respondents are un-decisive to the statement pose to them. 48% of the
respondents agreed that the use of Nigeria pidgin by male and female students has encourage wrong
use and expression of English language, 36% of the respondents disagreed that the use of Nigeria
Pidgin by male and female students has not encourage wrong use and expression of English
language while 12% of the respondents are un-decisive to the statement pose to them.

DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS
In this section, the results of the data analysis are discussed. The purpose of this study was to
how frequent NOUN students use Nigerian Pidgin and under what circumstances NOUN students
frequently use Nigerian Pidgin. From the data analysis gathered it was found that NOUN students
frequently use Pidgin in their daily communication within the school premises, The use of Nigerian
Pidgin by students has become a major communication setback and Noun student’s spoken language
is mostly pidgin, which has affected them academically.
Also the study found out that male students frequently use Pidgin in their communication in
and outside school environment which has limit their academic performance. Communicating in
Pidgin between staff and students always hinder proper usage of English language in the school
premises.
In conclusion, the use of Nigerian Pidgin by Nigerians, however, has led to the growing
status of the code in the country. In other words, Nigerian Pidgin has remained one of the languages
with vitality in the society despite its unofficial recognition. Nonetheless, it has been observed that a
large number of people across various sectors of the society including particularly those parents who
are highly placed government officials, teachers, students in the universities tend to express disgust
at its use by youths at home and school premises.

34
CHAPTER FIVE

5.0 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

35
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 effect 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

effective usage of English has prompted students to use Pidgin in their communication which has

negative effect 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

36
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 effective 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.

37
REFERENCES

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Akinnaso, N.F. (1999) One Nation, four hundred languages: Unity and Diversity in Nigeria’s
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Okon E (1995). The English Language and Code-Mixing: A Case Study of the Phenomenon in
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40
APPENDIX

QUESTIONNAIRE

Dear Respondents,
I am a student of the NATIONAL OPEN UNIVERSITY OF NIGERIA (NOUN). My research
examines the effect of Nigerian Pidgin English among National Open University of Nigeria Students
in Benin Study Centre. Kindly responds to each statement by ticking (√) on the appropriate column.

SECTION A: BIO-DATA
Complete the following information by checking (√) that which applied to you

41
1. GENDER: Male ( ) ,Female ( )
2. LEVEL: 100 ( ), 200 ( ), 300 ( ),400( )
3. AGE: 19-24 ( ), 25-30 ( ), 31-35 ( )
SECTION B
To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements?
SN STATEMENT AGREE DISAGREE UNDECIDED
1 Students frequently use pidgin in their daily
communication within the school premises.
2 The use of Nigeria pidgin English by students
has become a major communication setback
3 Most Noun student’s spoken language is mostly
pidgin, which has affected them academically.
4 Lack of effective usage of English language has
prompt student to use pidgin in their
communication.
5 The often use of pidgin by NOUN students has
reduce their confidence in expression in English
language
6 Shortage of English words in expressing
themselves cause students to frequently use
Nigeria pidgin English in their communication
7 Environmental factor is one of the reason
students frequently use pidgin in their day to day
activities.
8 Students occasionally use pidgin to express
themselves during and after lecture time.
9 The extent students use Nigeria pidgin English
has maximally increase with negative
performance in their studies
10 Pidgin communicating between staffs and
students are always hinder proper usage of
English language
11 The use of Nigeria pidgin English among staffs
and student has drastically slow good
performance

42
12 There is no gender difference in the use of
Nigeria pidgin
13 Male students frequently use pidgin in their
communication in and outside school
environment
14 The use of Nigeria pidgin English by both
gender is cause by failure to express oneself in
good English language
15 The use of Nigeria pidgin by male and female
students has encourage wrong use and
expression of English language

43