PIDGIN ENGLISH AND ITS INFLUENCE ON THE SPOKEN ENGLISH LANGUAGE OF SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS IN ABAJI LOCAL GOVERNMENT
This study was carried out to examine pidgin English and its influence on the spoken English language of secondary school students in Abaji Local Government. The study was specifically carried out to; find out the extent of Pidgin English usage among secondary schools students in Abaji Local Government, determine whether the use of Pidgin English affects students comprehension of English Language, determine whether the use of Pidgin English affects students’ speaking prowess of standard English Language, and determine whether the Pidgin English affects students’ fluency during the use of standard English Language. The survey design was adopted and the simple random sampling techniques were employed in this study. The population size comprise of English Language teachers in selected secondary schools in Abaji Local Government. In determining the sample size, the researcher purposefully selected 39 respondents and 35 were validated. Self-constructed and validated questionnaire was used for data collection. The collected and validated questionnaires were analyzed using frequency tables. While the hypotheses were tested using Chi-square statistical tool. The result of the findings reveals that the extent of Pidgin English usage among secondary schools students in Abaji Local Government is high. The study also revealed that the use of Pidgin English affects students’ speaking prowess of standard English Language. Therefore, it is recommended that there should be constant monitoring and evaluation of language use in teaching and learning in Nigerian schools to check the trend of usage of Pidgin. Teachers should always caution students each time they use Pidgin in formal school settings. And students should be constantly exposed to debate competitions and other activities that will help improve their use of Standard English.
1.1 Background to the Study
Language is a very important factor in the educational process. It is an indispensable aspect of communication. It has very strong basics for creative thought and without it there would be no meaningful progress in civilization and culture, Mufwene(2001). The above citation explores the powers of language as a tool for communication and creative thought. Language is used to communicate ideas through the process of thinking, translated to either speech or writing.
Therefore the language of wider communication of a country is crucial to the progress and growth of that nation, even academically. Nigeria is a diverse and multi-ethnic country with about four hundred and ten (410) languages Mufwene(2001). However, with the introduction of the English language in 1842, these numerous languages have influenced, or if we might say, interfered in the way Nigerians use language on the lexical, grammatical and phonological levels of communication. Though English is Nigeria’s lingua franca, a unique brand of English has emerged to suit Nigeria’s socio-linguistic and communication needs (which is to an extent a deviation from standard British English). This has led to a localization or domestication. Since English has been influenced by our indigenous languages, the way we write will also reflect this metamorphosis. These variations we referred to as “peculiar Nigerianisms”.
The English language in Nigeria is a second language. It is a second language because Nigerians already had their first language or Mother Tongue (L1) before the incursion of this foreign language called ‘English’ into the country. In this instance a foreign language (English) left its native environment and met with another language or languages (Nigerian indigenous languages). It is true that the culture and values of the people are embedded in the language they speak. As such it is said that ‘language is culture’ and none can be separated from each other.
English language did not come to Nigeria just on its own. Its incursion into Nigeria was caused by lots of factors like trading, slavery, colonization and missionary activities in Nigerian by the Europeans and this was done in phases. As such English as a language is a borrowed blanket which has been converted to a personal use by the borrowers so as to suit their purposes.
The exact date that English language usage started in Nigeria is not certain. However, it is believed that the first intimate contact between the British and some ethnic groupings in Nigeria was in Southern Nigeria. This must have been at some period before the Atlantic slave trade.
The term pidgin is used to refer to a language which develops in a situation where speakers of different languages have a need to communicate but do not share a common language. Once a pidgin has emerged, it is generally learned as a second language and used for communication among people who speak differently.
Tracing the history of Pidgin English, Quirk et al(2010) pointed out that “Pidgin historically began as simply a language marked by traditional interference used chiefly by the prosperous and privileged section of a community represents by the unskilled and illiterate class of the society”. This situation, however, is not so with the Nigeria Pidgin. Studies have shown that the Nigeria Pidgin began as an English-based Pidgin and later metamorphosed into various forms and patterns in its usage, (Obiechina, 2015; Elugbe, 2012 and Egbokhare, 2014). Nigerian Pidgin English is seen as a version of English and ethnic Nigerian languages spoken as a kind of Lingua Franca across the country especially among students. In an attempt to define Nigerian Pidgin English, Elugbe and Omamur(2013), see it as ‘some kind of a marginal language that arises to fulfill specific communication needs in a well defined circumstance.’
Furthermore, Nigerian Pidgin is a somewhat pejorative label used by native speakers of English to describe the often hysterical violations of the basic rules of Standard English syntax by non-native speakers of the language. Kperogi(2014) further describes Pidgin as a technical term in linguistics that refers to a “contact” or “trade” language that emerged from the fusion of foreign, usually European, language and indigenous, usually non-European languages. Here, the European language provided most of the vocabulary and the indigenous languages produce the structure of the language. The cultural language which language emanates from has far- reaching influences on its predominant usage as is the case with Nigerian Pidgin. Its variation, no doubt is not unconnected with the culture of its users. It is in the light of this that Abdullah – Idiagbom in his study on “The Sociolinguistic of Nigerian Pidgin (English) on University Campus” quoting Brooks, N (1969) Posits: ‘It is through the magic of language that man comes eventually to understand to an impressive degree the environment to which he lives and still more surprising, gains an insight into his own nature and his own condition.’
The teachers and students are victim of these observations about Nigerian Pidgin. And perhaps the cultural influence of the native language on the teacher is largely reflected on the students since no student is believed not to be greater than his/her teacher. In view of this, Akujobi and Chukwu (2017), submitted that ‘the quality of English used in the classroom is such that all pupils are to a serious disadvantage. It cannot be doubted that thousands of the most gifted are unable to further their education because they were not taught well the language in which they were examined.’ They further pointed out that ‘according to the canons of the discipline for language pedagogy, the more the difference between the system of the target language, the more difficult learning invariably becomes and the smaller the difference, the easier the learning.’
The above assertion gives credence to the difficulty faced by students who grew up in an environment where native language is widely used than Standard English in teaching and learning. This will make their learning of the Standard English a herculean task. Students’ daily use of their native language in communication within and outside the school has further enhanced the use of Nigerian Pidgin which is derived from a blend of the morphology of the native language and the syntax of the Standard English in its usage.
In real sense, no language is inferior or superior to the other. But what enhances its continuous usage is the specific communication needs that it serves and competence attained by its users over a long period of time which also makes it a norn among a well-defined group of users. It is also true that where two or more speech communities come in contact, a lingua franca or common language of communication tends to emerge (Stockwell, 2018). The distortion which Nigerian Pidgin has on the Standard English is in varying degree and magnitude. Looking at this Nigerian Pidgin sentence: “Wetin dey hapun nau?” one knows that it is a derivative of the Standard English equivalent – “What is happening now?” Now we see that the expression “Wetin dey’ is a distortion of “What is”; “hapun” is also another distortion of “happening” while “nau” is a corruption of “now”.
Interestingly, Nigerian Pidgin is characterized by a simple, often anarchic and rudimentary grammatical structure, a severely limited vocabulary and is used for the expression of really basic thought processes (Kperogi, 2012). The above situation is a result of the fact that Nigerian Pidgin emerged more as “emergency” language for casual, shot-term linguistic encounters. Hence, it cannot be used to express high-minded thought processes and are usually not anybody’s primary or first language. From the foregoing, this study seeks to assess pidgin english and its influence on the spoken english language of secondary school students in Abaji Local Government.
1.2 Statement Of The Problem
There is a general belief among students that Pidgin English serves as a variety of English that facilitates communication though it is a deviation from the norm. The above assumption provided the basis for the use of Pidgin especially among students. The use of Pidgin goes beyond verbal communication and has become more of a verbal behavior as its expression has moved from the boundaries of informal conversation to formal situations. Scholars have called for the urgent consideration and pronouncement of Nigeria Pidgin as co-official language with English, (Balogun, 2012; Amao, 2012; Uguru, 2006; Elugbe and Omamor, 2011). According to Uguru (2006), ‘Nigerian Pidgin plays a very important role in communication in Nigeria. If it will be recognized as a co-official language with English, it will enhance the participation of all citizens in the economic, social and political development of the country.’ Party to this assertion are Elugbe and Omamur (2008) who observed the use of Pidgin in the classroom especially in Edo and Delta states where virtually everybody speaks the language with proficiency. Now, it is a known fact that what one reads regularly influences the way one speaks and writes. Students regularly expose themselves to songs with lyrics written in Pidgin, magazines and jokes written in Pidgin as well as movies with Pidgin as their predominant language of communication. All these influence students’ predominant language of communication especially among themselves within and outside the school. ‘The argument,’ according to Onuigbo and Eyisi(2015), ‘in favour of Pidgin as a compromise language and that which could foster unity among the diverse ethnic groups has some surface attraction but many have not paused to consider the possible negative effects on the standard usage of English among pupils and students in Nigerian schools’.
It is an established fact that Pidgin English exists in Nigeria which linguists call the Nigerian pidgin and that studies have been carried out on its effects on Standard English (Oko, 2013; Agbo, 2008) among others. The researcher observes that no special attention has been given to assess the level of the damage done on students’ use of the Standard English by constant use of Nigeria Pidgin English. The problem which this research therefore seeks to assess pidgin english and its influence on the spoken english language of secondary school students in Abaji Local Government.
1.3 Objectives Of The Study
The overall aim of this study is to critically examine pidgin English and its influence on the spoken English language of secondary school students in Abaji Local Government. Hence, the study will be channeled to the following specific objectives;
Find out the extent of Pidgin English usage among secondary schools students in Abaji Local Government.
Determine whether the use of Pidgin English affects students comprehension of English Language.
Determine whether the use of Pidgin English affects students’ speaking prowess of standard English Language.
Determine whether the Pidgin English affects students’ fluency during the use of standard English Language.
1.4 Research Question
The study will be guided by the following questions;
What is the extent of Pidgin English usage among secondary schools students in Abaji Local Government?
Does the use of Pidgin English affects students comprehension of English Language?
Does the use of Pidgin English affects students’ speaking prowess of standard English Language?
Does the Pidgin English affects students’ fluency during the use of standard English Language?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
Ho: Pidgin English usage does not have a negative impact on the spoken English language performance of secondary school students in Abaji Local Government.
Ho: Pidgin English usage does have a negative impact on the spoken English language performance of secondary school students in Abaji Local Government.
1.6 Significance Of The Study
Professionally, the findings from this study will serve as a useful guide to language planners and policy makers on the educational sector to trace the trend and come up with a policy framework to enrich the use of Standard English as against Nigerian Pidgin.
To the academia, the study will serve as a springboard upon which further research can be carried out, possibly to explore new ways where Nigerian Pidgin can be a useful learning tool. Also the findings in this study will further enrich the body of knowledge already tapped on the use of Nigerian pidgin and its effects. Students will use the findings and recommendation from this study to examine the extent of the danger which the use of Pidgin have meted on their usage of the Standard English and ways and approaches to avoid further harm.
The teacher on the other hand, will use the findings to evaluate their method of teaching and interaction with the students. This they will do when they read from the findings the dangers Pidgin English usage have done on their writing and speaking skills.
1.7 Scope Of The Study
This study is structured to generally examine the impacts of pidgin English on the spoken English language performance of secondary school students in Abaji Local Government. Specifically. The study will find out the extent of Pidgin English usage among secondary schools students in Abaji Local Government, determine whether the use of Pidgin English affects students comprehension of English Language, determine whether the use of Pidgin English affects students’ speaking prowess of standard English Language, and determine whether the Pidgin English affects students’ fluency during the use of standard English Language. Hence, the respondents for this study will be obtained from English Language teachers in Abaji Local Government.
1.8 Limitation Of The Study
Like in every human endeavour, the researcher encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. Insufficient funds tend to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection, which is why the researcher resorted to a limited choice of sample size. More so, the researcher simultaneously engaged in this study with other academic work. As a result, the amount of time spent on research will be reduced.
Moreover, the case study method utilized in the study posed some challenges to the investigator including the possibility of biases and poor judgment of issues. However, the investigator relied on respect for the general principles of procedures, justice, fairness, objectivity in observation and recording, and weighing of evidence to overcome the challenges.