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A Sociolinguistic Study of the Patterns of Nonstandard English Words Usage in Formal Context

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A Sociolinguistic Study of the Patterns of Nonstandard English Words Usage in Formal Context.

ABSTRACT

This study dwells on the Sociolinguistic Patterns of Nonstandard English Words usage in Formal Contexts using students of institutions of higher learning in Kaduna State as its case study.

The study begins by examining the centrality of the English language in Nigerian society, particularly in the educational sector.

It then goes on to look at the variability of the English language and the role of social context in determining the most appropriate variety to be used hence the use of standard and nonstandard English in formal and informal contexts respectively.

On the contrary, the target group of this study uses nonstandard English words in their spoken and written communication informal contexts.

The study, which is limited to the lexical variants, thus identifies these variant lexical items from students’ scripts and recorded discourses and thereafter examines their patterns of occurrence and the factors motivating their usage.

The study adopts an eclectic approach comprising Fishman’s Domain and Topics, Labov’s Quantitative Paradigm and Giles’ Accommodation theory.

Using the Domain and Topics model, the study establishes the fact that the context/domain under consideration is formally based on the general subject areas under discussion, role relationships between the participants and setting of interaction.

The study thereafter examines the social factors responsible for the use of identified nonstandard/non-English lexical items using the Labovian framework and Accommodation theory. Based on the study’s findings, social factors of the language of the social media/Short Message Service’s shorthand, bilingualism used as a source of pity/obtaining undue favours, religion, familiarity/relaxed atmosphere and nature of students’ course/question asked motivated our subjects’ use of the identified nonstandard English lexical items.

The study then looks at the general patterns that the identified lexical items take as well as the differences or similarities of these identified nonstandard English lexical items across the selected institutions.

Finally, the study discusses its contributions to knowledge and makes suggestions for further research.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Title Page……………………….…….……………………………………….i
Declaration…………….…………………………………………………… ii
Certification…………………………………..……………………………..iii
Dedication…………………………………………….………………….….iv
Acknowledgement……………………………………….………………….v
Abstract…………………………………………………….………….……vii
Table of Contents ……………………………………………………..……viii

CHAPTER ONE: BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
1.0 Introduction…………………………………………………………..1
1.1 The Centrality of English to the Field of Education
In Nigeria………………………………………………………….…..2
1.2 The Variability of the English language………………………………3
1.3 Social Context as a Determinant of What Variety of
English to Use…………………………………………………………4
1.4 Statement of the Research Problem………………………………….. 6
1.5 Aim and Objectives……………………………………………………7
1.6 Research Questions……………………………………………………8
1.7 Justification for the Study………………………………………………9
1.8 Scope and Delimitation………………………………………………..10

CHAPTER TWO: REVIEW OF LITERATURE AND THEORETICAL
FRAMEWORK
2.0 Introduction.………………………………………………..……….12
2.1 The Field of Sociolinguistics………………………………………..12
2.2 The Study of Language Variation………………………………….14
2.2.0 Social Variables and Language Variation……………………….15
2.2.1 Age and Language Variation……………………………………15
2.2.2 Social Class and Language Variation……………………………17
2.2.3 Gender and Language Variation………………………………….18
2.2.4 Educational Status and Language Variation……………………..20
2.2.5 Culture and Language Variation………………………………….20
2.2.6 Ethnicity and Language Variation……………………………….21
2.2.7 Religion and Language Variation…………………………………23
2.3 Varieties of the English Language in Nigeria…………………….24
2.3.0. The Standard English (Process of Standardization)………………25
2.3.1 The Standard/Formal English as a Variety of English…………….27
2.3.1.1 Standard British English…………………………………………..36
2.3.2 Nonstandard English/Informal English…………………….……. .37
2.3.2.0 Varieties of Nonstandard English Commonly Used by
the Target Population along with SBE in Formal Contexts………………39
2.3.2.1 Standard Nigerian English(SNE)………………………………….39
2.3.2.2 The Written Language of the Global System for Mobile
Communication’s Short Message Service (GSM/SMS)……………………43
2.3.2.3 English Slang.……………………………………………………….44
2.3.2.4 Pidgin……………………………………………………………….47
2.3.2.4.1 General Pidgin……………………………………………………..47
2.3.2.4.2 English Pidgin/Nigerian Pidgin……………………………………52
2.4 Code Mixing…………………………………………………………55
2.5 Definition of Context………………………………………………..58
2.6. Theoretical Framework………………………………………………63
2.6.1 Domain and Topics………………………………………………….63
2.6.2 The Quantitative Paradigm or Labovian Framework…………………65
2.6.3 The Accommodation Theory…………………………………………67
2.6.4 The Justification for Eclecticism……………………………………..69

CHAPTER THREE: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
3.0 Introduction ……………………………….…….………………..….73
3.1 The Research Design………………………………………..….…….73
3.2 The Target Population ……………………………………….…..…..74
3.3. Sample and Sampling Procedure …………………………..…..…….74
3.4 Research Instruments …………………………………………………75
3.4.1 Observation……………………………………………………………75
3.4.2 Recording……………………………………………………………..76
3.4.3. Students’ scripts……………………………………………………….77
3.5 Problems Encountered and How they were Overcome……………….77

CHAPTER FOUR: DATA PRESENTATION, ANALYSIS AND
DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS
4.0 Introduction ………………………………………………..…………..79
4.1. Data Presentation and Analysis Based on Students’ Examination
Scripts…………………………………………………………………..79
4.2 Data Presentation and Analysis Based on Recorded Spoken
Discourses in Formal Contexts……………………………………….141
4.3 Discussion of Findings ………………………………….……….……159

CHAPTER FIVE: SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
5.0 Introduction……………………………………………………………175
5.1 General Summary …………………………….……………….………176
5.2 Conclusion ……………………………………………………..………178
5.3 Implications of the Study………………………………………………179
5.4 Contributions to Knowledge……………………………………………181
5.5 Suggestions for Further Research………………………………………182
REFERENCES………………………………………………………….…….183
APPENDICES…………………………………………………………………191

INTRODUCTION

One of the indispensable legacies of the British colonial administration in Nigeria that has continued to thrive several years after independence is the English language.

Even when some Nigerians criticize some of the heritages of the colonial administration such as the amalgamation, hardly do they complain about the English language and the place it has come to occupy in Nigeria today.

Corroborating these views, Bamgbose (1971:36), states that “of all the heritage left behind in Nigeria by the colonial administration, probably none is more important than the English language.”

This same view is re-echoed by, Schmied (1991:119) who believes that the English language has proved “far more durable than other parts of colonial inheritance.”

The centrality of the English language to the life of the average Nigerian cannot be overemphasized. The English language is the language of general interaction that facilitates communication among Nigerians regardless of their linguistic, cultural and social barriers or differences.

Ogu (1992:79) while re-echoing the views expressed above, states that “the status of English language in Nigeria is that of a stable and important second language.”

Another area where the impact of the English language is greatly felt in Nigeria is in the mass media. News and other programmes on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and on other independent television networks such as African Independent Television (AIT), Channels Television among others are broadcast in the English language.

Similarly, any newspaper or magazine which aims at national coverage must necessarily publish in English. Banjo (1996:69) confirming this says that ‘no African country is better served with English newspaper than Nigeria.’

The use of the English language is not restricted to the media alone but it is also the language of the legislature, judiciary, interview for employment, the government as well as business and commerce

REFERENCES

Adegbija, E. (1999) “Tit bits on Discourse Analysis”. In Adegbija,E.(ed) The English Language and Literature in English: An Introductory Handbook. Ilorin: The Department of Modern European Languages.
Adekunle, M.A.(1972) “Multilingualism of Language Use” in Lansing, E. (ed) African Studies Review. Vol. 15, No. 2
—————(1974) “ The Standard Nigerian English” Journal of Nigerian English Studies Association (JNESA) Vol. 6, No 1
—————(1985) The English Language in Nigeria as a Modern Nigerian Artifact Jos: University of Jos Press
Adetugbo, A. (1979) “Appropriateness in Nigerian English.” In Ubahakwe,E. (ed) Varieties and Functions of English in Nigeria. Ibadan: African universities press.
Agbedo, C.U. (2000) General Linguistics: An Introductory Reader. Nsukka: ACE Resources Konsult.
Ajani, T.T. (1994) “The Influence of Nigerian Languages on Nigerian English” Focus on Linguistics. University of Florida Working Papers on Linguistics. Vol 1V. No 1 pp 34-48
—————(2005) “Whatever Happened to “Queen’s English” Creativity and Innovation in Wole Soyinka’s Collected Plays” West African Review Issue 7 pp1-23
 ————–(2007) “Is there Indeed a Nigerian English?” Journal of Humanities and Social Science Vol 1. Issue 1
Akindele, F. and Adegbite, W (1999) The Sociology and Politics of English in Nigeria. Ile-Ife: O.A.U Press limited.
Akinluyi, T. O. (1971) “The Place of Pidgin in Nigeria and its Educational Implication” Unpublished M.A. Thesis. Institute of Education, University of London
Allenton, D.J.(1979) Essentials of Grammatical Theory. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul
Alo, M.A. (2004) “Context and Language Variations: The El2 Example”. In Oyeleye, L. (ed) Language and Discourse in society. Ibadan: Hope Publications
Appel, R. and Muyesken, P.(1993) Language contact and Bilingualism. London: Edward Arnold

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