THE MANIFESTATION OF NON STANDARD USAGE OF ENGLISH AMONG UNIVERSITY STUDENTS THE SYNTACTIC PERSPECTIVE

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ABSTRACT

This research focused on the syntactic manifestation of non standard usage of English among university students. In this study, we examined several popular Nigerian usages in various socio-political, cultural, and metaphorical course subjects from a sociolinguistic perspective. Given the scope of this study, finding all of the lexical words that have changed in Nigerian English could be a challenge. As a result, this study is confined to 82 lexical items that have changed in Nigerian English at the sociolinguistic level, with an emphasis on words that have been borrowed, widened, or narrowed in meaning to meet new realities.  The data was gathered mostly through focus group conversations and recordings with students from the University of Calabar,  Uyo, and Port Harcourt, who were chosen at random from diverse places. Observations and notes in such fields were some of the others.

THE MANIFESTATION OF NON STANDARD USAGE OF ENGLISH AMONG UNIVERSITY STUDENTS THE SYNTACTIC PERSPECTIVE

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

INTRODUCTION                                             

Language is characterized by set of vocal sounds which can be decoded. These are produced by human organs of speech- lips, tongue, and larynx etc. The vocal sounds produced by the vocal organs are used in various systematic and rule governed combinations. Language is thus a human phenomenon that has form which can be described in terms of the units of sound (phonemes), words, morphemes, phrases, and paragraph or discourse. Human language is unique in the sense that it has its own structure, its own system of organizing its component units into meaningful patterns.

English, Nigeria’s official language, occupies a unique place in Nigerian education today; not only has English been adopted as the principal medium of instruction in Nigeria’s educational institutions but it has also been institutionalized as the language of educational evaluation in Nigeria school system. However, Kujore notes that it is alarming how in spite of the tremendous functions that English performs as the language of instruction and evaluation in Nigeria and the bold effort made over the years to encourage its effective usage, the vast majority of speakers record in recent years is an appalling low level performance in the language (Kujore, 1995).

This research is going to investigate the instances of the non standard use of English. Whenever a language functions as a borrowed second language, problems of usage are bound to arise. This is because when a language moves out of its original speech community, it is inevitable to have some super imposed linguistics features and frictions resulting from the meeting of two systems and cultural pattern. Moreover, when the English language (being outside its native environment) there is bound to be deviation from the norms in usage (Olagoke 1981). An adult will have learnt one language, which is his mother tongue, which feature she naturally transfers some features to the second language. The study will identify and describe some sub varieties of English usage in Nigeria, which are instances of the use of non Standard English because of the multiplicity of ethnic groups in the country.

The English language has brought all indigenous languages and ethnic groups together in Nigeria. Nigerian English emerged as a result of the socio-cultural setting in which English was first introduced. Nigerian writers may utilize numerous lexical terms to reflect their cultural and social background, as English language is adapted to meet the Nigerian world view, according to Adebileje and Araba (2012). (p. 3). This implies that new words are introduced to the existing lexicon of Nigerian English as diverse developments emerge in society. Existing terms are given new meanings, allowing lexico-semantics researchers to broaden their horizons.

This research will look at coinages in Nigerian English from a sociolinguistic standpoint, and if one fails to communicate his desired concept through language, communication has not yet occurred. Coinages have to do with the invention of new words or phrases from the existing local stock of indigenous languages or the combination of both English and indigenous language lexis (Adedimeji, 2007, p.10)..  It also refers to the lexical derivational process of inventing new words from an existing one in English, the mother tongue or a combination of the two languages. (Mgbemena, 2015, p.40).  Coinages or neologisms are new terms developed for new experiences, particularly when the speaker of the language either lacks a suitable standard lexical item to communicate himself or uses a word or an expression to meet the communication needs of his immediate surroundings. Such expressions are occasionally metaphorically explicable and could be the result of interference or trait transfer from a speaker’s first to the target language. Researchers in the sociolinguistics of Nigerian English (Adegbija 2004:23,)

The goal of this research is to provide explanations for the syntactic manifestation of non standard usage of English among university students.

1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM

The recognition of the significant disparity between Standard English and Nigerian English, particularly in the field of semantics, led to the investigation of coinages off specific  terms in Nigerian English. Some English language things have different meanings for Nigerian English speakers, as influenced by many Nigerian situations and culture. Because the meanings attached to these lexical items are more of those obtained in the Nigerian environment than those obtained in core English, these semantic deviations contribute significantly to the poor development of standard grammatical competence and communicative performance among Nigerian English speakers. The meanings associated with these English lexical elements are so complex that they are difficult to comprehend unless one is knowledgeable with Nigerian culture and indigenous languages.

The discovery of a significant disparity between Standard English and Nigerian English, particularly in the field of semantics, led to the investigation of several lexical terms in Nigerian English. It has been observed that Nigerian speakers of English attach different meanings to some English language things as a result of various Nigerian situations and culture. Because the meanings attached to these lexical items are more of those obtained in the Nigerian environment than those of core English features, these semantic deviations contribute significantly to the poor development of standard grammatical competence and communicative performance among English speakers in Nigeria. This makes understanding the utterances difficult for non-natives in Nigerian society. When a native English speaker hears these pieces, he hears a series of familiar words with strange meanings.

1.3 RESEARCH QUESTIONS

  • Is the level of non standard usage of English among University Students prevalent in Nigeria?
  • Do students really use the non standard usage of English in their interaction, because English in a contact a situation or as a second language tend to have some errors in the usage?
  • How do sociolinguistic approaches to language change differ?
  • What factors are to blame for Nigeria’s English language usage deviations?

.1.4 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY

The aim of this research is to scrutinize the syntactic manifestation of non standard usage of English among university students. In achieving this aim, the following specific objectives were laid out as following:

  • To observe non standard usage of English among University Students in Nigeria.
  • To identify if students really use the non standard usage of English in their interaction, because English in a contact a situation or as a second language tend to have some errors in the usage.
  • To investigate sociolinguistic perspectives on language change.
  • To identify the factors that contribute to differences in English language usage in Nigeria.

 

1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

This research will look at the manifestation of non standard usage of English among university students: the syntactic perspective. This research help Nigerian educators and English users to be more aware of the presence of standard and non-standard forms of the language. Such sensitization is supposed to lead to not just a more meaningful usage of the English language in Nigeria, but also to proof of the existence of Nigerian English. This will inform language users that Nigerian English is not completely correct, undesirable, or incomprehensible. Though Nigerians understand these words when they are employed in expressions, a native speaker may need to clarify some of them.

The work will definitely contribute to the knowledge on second language learning and error analysis. The second language learners will get to understand their shortcomings in the use of the standard English, which will help them to be perfect in the standard English.

1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY

The research focused on the syntactic manifestation of non standard usage of English among university students. The study is limited to usage of non standard English from the grammatical perspective among the University community.

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