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The Effect of Nigeria Pidgin English on Student of Tertiary Institution

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1.0         INTRODUCTION

        Language is a system that consist of the development acquisition, maintenance and the use of complex system of communication, particularly a human ability to do so; and a language is any specific example of such a system. The scientific study of language is called linguistics.

        One of the most important difference between man and animal, it is the ability to speak and make others benefit and understand him. Language is only possible because within each society, people agree to understand a particular pattern of sound in a particular way, for example, all English speaking countries understand the meaning of the word ‘ food’.

        Language does not come to life except when it is functioning in an environment. Furthermore language is a human phenomenon that has form which can be described in terms of units of sound (phonemes) word, morphemes, phrases, sentences and paragraphs.

        This definition shows that language has been identified as the most unique attribute of man. It is through language that human beings grasp and understand reality and transmit it from one generation to another.

        According to Noam Chomsky, he says; when we study human language, we are approaching what some might call the human essence. The distribution qualities of mind that are so far as we know are unique to man. Also according to Oyewo Yinka, he describes language as the medium of vehicle for conveying ideas, as system of arbitrary vocal symbol based on social co-operations, the totality of meaningful utterance in any given society, is by far the most important means of human communication  



        Language has a very complex structure. In this chapter we will be looking at various related works in this study of pidgin as regards its various definition by different scholars, its origin, the evolution of Nigerian pidgin, status of Nigerian pidgin, the language composition of Nigerian pidgin.

        Pidgin is said to exist among people who do not share a common language but want to communicate with each other for trading or other purposes. It is believed that pidgin, all over the world arises from contact situation. Usually, the absence of a common means of communication engenders such a contact.

        Hudson considers pidgin to be “varieties created for very practical and immediate purpose of communication between people who otherwise would have no common language whatsoever….. This view is in consonance with Lerato’s definition of pidgin as; A marginal language which arises to fulfill certain communication needs among people who have no common language.

        It is also no native to any of its speakers. Despite it’s fairly long existence and its communicative value, researchers have not reached a consensus on the most acceptable definition of pidgin. Although the definition given by researchers reveal the essence of pidgin, they have so far defined the term in the light of their individual perception of its origin, subsequent development, social status and the potential communication value. The origin of pidgin has remained a highly controversial issue for a long time in spite of its university as an aspect of popular speech.


        The history of Nigerian pidgin can be traced back to the contacts between Europeans and Nigerians. According to Elugbe and Omamor (quoted Elugbe) “ Nigerian pidgin arose from the contact between multilingual coastal communities of Nigeria and visiting European explorers/traders first the Portuguese, then briefly the Dutch and finally the English owing to this contact, there was an immediate need to communicate in a common language. A Portuguese pidgin was developed initially but it was developed initially but it was replaced by a pidgin which was English based and spoken till today, Jowitt has this to say about the origin of Nigerian pidgin: Nigerian pidgin undoubtedly originated and developed its standard forms during the period of 3000 years that elapsed between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. It vocabulary is drawn from English with Portuguese probably the source of such common words as dash palever and sabby or sabe.


It simply talks on the relative position of pidgin with particular reference to Nigeria. It is of interest to not that if there is any language to be suggested for adoption as a Lingua France or national language for Nigeria, the current popularity of Nigerian pidgin has made it the only one.

        According to an interview granted Nigerian journalist and published in vanguard newspapers (June 30th 2005) on time minister of education of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Prof. Babatunde Fafunwa, says that if another language was to be chosen as second language as mother tongue, then English goes. This argument came on the heels of case made for French which the former minister describe as being too foreign.

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