THE REGIONAL VARIATION OF NIGERIAN SPOKEN ENGLISH

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THE REGIONAL VARIATION OF NIGERIAN SPOKEN ENGLISH

CHAPTER ONE

 INTRODUCTION                                               

1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

Since  the  arrival  of  English  language  on  the  Nigerian  soil  about  one  and  a  half  centuries  ago,  attempts  have  been made  at  various  times  to  describe  the  variety  of  English  spoken  and  written  by  Nigerians.    The  assumptions  range from  Standard  British  English  (SBE),  to  Educated  West  African  English  (EWE),  to  Standard  American  English (SAE),  and  then,  to  Standard  Nigerian  English  (SNE)  (Babatunde,  2002).    Of  all  these  varieties,  the  candidate  that appears  to  have  gained  prominence  in  the  Nigerian  sociolinguistic  terrain,  particularly,  from  the  time  the  Nigeria gained  independence  as  a  nation  from  its  former  colonial  masters,  is  the  Standard  British  English  (SBE)  variety. The  reason  is  obvious:  Nigeria  was  an  offshoot  of  British  colonial  and  missionary  occupation,  and  so,  the  basic language  of  communication  used  in  governance,  trade,  education  and  other  purposes  was  mainly  English.  This explains  why  testing  and  evaluation  of  academic  performance  in  Nigerian  institutions  of  learning  have  been modelled after Standard British English, the RP.  

However,  studies  like  Banjo  (1971,1993),  Adetugbo  (1977,  2004),  Jibril  (1979,1982),  Eka  (1985,2000),  Jowitt (1991),  Awonusi  (2004)  and  Josiah  (2009,  2011),  among  numerous  others,  have  adequately  proved  that  using  RP as  a  spoken  model  for  Nigerians  is  merely  an  exercise  that  lacks  basic  justification  since  the  variety  of  English spoken  in  Nigeria  (just  as  in  any  other  L2  environment)  cannot  be  said  to  be  truly  British.  In  fact,  judging  from available  documentary  evidences  so  far,  most  Nigerians  do  not  speak  British  English.  As  an  extension  to  this primer  observation,  there  are  several  unique  features  that  distinguish  the  spoken  variety  of  English  in  Nigeria from  RP.  This  agrees  with  Jowitt‟s  (1991)  observation  that  the  English  language  (particularly  in  an  L2 environment  like  Nigeria)  has  defied  nature  by  undergoing  „gynaechological  re-processing‟.  This  is  why  it  is necessary  to  undertake  a  study  of  this  nature  to  further  investigate  into  the  pattern  of  an regional acculturated  or  a hybridized  version  of  the  English  language  spoken  by  Nigerians institutions, Sokoto State university as a case study;  and  then  propose  what  language  teachers  and examination bodies should attempt to do to improve learners‟ performance in classroom situation.

In  a  nutshell,  this  study  will reexamine  the  pattern  of  educated  spoken  English  in  Nigeria  using  the university  students  in  the  country  as  exponents Sokoto state university students precisely.  It  will examine  the  spoken  speeches  of  the  respondents  used  for  the study  and  isolates  specific  „Nigerians‟   in  those  utterances  in  an  attempt  to  provide  some  teaching  models  for applied linguists to work with in an ESL classroom. It  observes  that  the  patterns  of  spoken  English  existing  among  the  respondents  used  reflects  the  concept  proposed by  Edward  Sapir  and  Benjamin  Lee  Whorf  in  what  is  usually  referred  to  as  “linguistic  determinism  and  cultural relativity”:  that  the  cultural  milieu  of  a  linguistic  environment  influences,  and  thereby  determines  to  a  large  extent, the type of language that would exist.  

Therefore, this study will findout the regional/environment variation of Nigerian Spoken English (NSE).

THE REGIONAL VARIATION OF NIGERIAN SPOKEN ENGLISH

THE REGIONAL VARIATION OF NIGERIAN SPOKEN ENGLISH